The Danger of Artificial Sweeteners
My goal is to dispel myths that artificial sweeteners are safe and that they even help with weight loss. While the FDA has given its stamp of approval on these sweeteners, watchdog groups beg to differ, citing research on the subject is flawed and doesn’t account for long-term use of these substances on health.
If you get on the Internet, you could spend hours, if not days, looking at websites devoted to both sides of the issue. While the jury may still be out about the safety of artificial sweeteners, I’d like to share what I have seen in my practice and give you some things to think about.
Finding the Cause of Disease
A few years ago, I had a male client who presented with symptoms of MS. After doing a dietary intake, we found that he was drinking 15 to 20 glasses of diet sodas a day just to keep up with his hectic schedule. Within two months of working with me, weaning off of the artificially sweetened sodas, all of his MS symptoms mysteriously left!
Another client of mine was a student diagnosed with ADD. After working with his diet, his concentration improved 70% with the elimination of diet sodas.
And finally, I’ve had literally thousands of clients I have counseled for weight loss. Even in my early days working with clients, I found that it was extremely difficult for people to lose weight until they dropped the diet sodas. Much later, I found research that aspartame not only lowers chromium from the body (which is a mineral that helps you handle sugars), but it also triggers your appetite and addictions! Even an early study from the American Cancer Society showed that those who used artificial sweeteners were significantly more likely to gain weight than nonusers.
Top Four Artificial Sweeteners
Basically there are four major ones: Aspartame, Saccharin, Sucralose and Truvia. The differences is the chemical composition of each one. The similarities is that each touts being metabolized as low sugar and promotes weight loss. The problems with each one range from being downright dangerous, to allergic reactions, weight gain, or being simply toxic to the human body and brain.
All Sugars Are Not Created Equal
Aspartame is found in about 5,000 products and it accounts for more than 80% of FDA food related complaints. It’s a combination of phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. Aspartame is 200 times sweeter than sugar and has been used to take the place of saccharin in foods and drinks. Its major brand names are NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Equal Measure.
Methanol is converted info formalhyde when metabolized. Makers of aspartame say its by products are excreted quickly, but research found measurable amounts of formaldehyde in the livers, kidneys and brains of test subjects.
Dr. Russell L. Blaylock’s research from the Medical University of Mississippi, recently published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free “excitatory” amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate or MSG is glutamic acid) in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.
So it’s not surprising that Aspartame has been linked to PKU seizures, high blood pressure, headaches, insomnia, and mood swings. Several studies have shown immediate serious reactions to aspartame: Severe headaches, extreme dizziness, throat swelling, and other allergic effects, including retina deterioration. And the worse thing is that this sweetener doesn’t even satisfy our sweet tooth. (Remember, having a sweet tooth is a sign of a chromium or zinc deficiency, or other blood-sugar imbalance.)
Saccharin is a sulfa-based sweetener and its primary ingredient is benzoic sulfimide. It is one of the common forms of sugar substitutes known as Sweet-N-Low, Sprinkle Sweet, Sugar Twin, and Sweet 10. Reported side effects are especially for those with sulfa allergies which include nausea, diarrhea, and skin problems. Although the FDA proposed a ban on saccharin after studies suggested a link between it and tumors in rats, it was saved by public demand for it and was left on the market. Its safety has been under review.
Notice the warning on the back of the saccharin packet which was removed in 2000: “Use of this product may be hazardous to your health. This product contains saccharin which has been determined to cause cancer in laboratory animals.” Many other countries have banned artificial sweeteners because of their link to cancer risk. My question is when will the review be over and an appropriate warning put back on the label. In the meantime, I would suggest you stay away from this product.
Sucralose is sold as Splenda. Also touted as being safe, Sucralose is a synthetic additive created by chlorinating sugar. Reported side effects of using Splenda include: skin irritation, dizziness, head and muscle aches, stomach cramps and diarrhea, allergic reactions, blood sugar problems, and surprisingly, weight gain! Much of the controversy is not so much on its safety as much as its false advertising. But there have never been any long term studies showing that it is safe
Truvia Thanks to a large marketing program many health conscious consumers have been deceived into believing that Truvia is the same thing as Stevia. The truth is that, even though Truvia is marketed as a stevia-based sugar substitute, it is not even close to the natural sweetener, Stevia. First, like other synthetic sweeteners, there is a myriad of side effects ranging from fatigue, abdominal cramps, sugar cravings, gas and constipation, mouth sores, headache, migraines, back, neck and shoulder pain, and insomnia.
Truvia contains Erythritol, Rebiana and Natural Flavors. Let’s look closer at these ingredients.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol which is made by processing genetically modified corn; this is the primary ingredient in Truvia. So Truvia is 99% genetically modified sugar alcohols, which are notoriously known for their unpleasant side effects such as diarrhea, cramping, gas and bloating. And if you are familiar with genetically-modified products, no one knows the possible long-range side effects.
Rebiana is a molecule of the stevia plant. However, if a container of Truvia was divided into 200 parts, 199 of them would be Erythritol and only one would be Rebiana (which, again, isn’t even Stevia, but a mere molecule of the Stevia plant). In conclusion, Truvia is mostly Erythritol with a less than a half of a percent of a molecule of Stevia.
Natural Flavors. If you read my series on whole food supplements, the term “natural” can mean anything. Regarding supplements, to be natural only have to be 10% natural to make this claim. The only legal requirement is that they are chemically equivalent to a natural flavor.
The problem is of course that the pictures of the stevia leaves on the box make it look natural. But unfortunately, stevia and Truvia are two entirely different products! Be wary and read labels.
In the meantime, I suggest eliminating these artificial sweeteners and using safe ones such as stevia. I carry a great tasting, natural stevia in my office. Click here to find it in my nutritional products.
Check back next week when I’ll be writing about safe alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners.