Last week I attended a webinar focusing on calorie free sweeteners such as those found in diet drinks and other low calorie foods. The information was very informative, so I would like to pass along a brief overview of what I learned.
There has been some hype in the media over the past few years about these artificial sweeteners causing a host of problems. The good news is that you can safely enjoy products containing these sweeteners. I will go over the myths, but first, I just want to remind everyone of the damage that excess sugar can cause to a body. Sure, it would be great if everyone in the world only drank water and milk. However, let’s face it, that is never going to happen. We like sweets and honestly, we were born with an affinity toward sweet tasting foods. By rationalizing this situation, given that we have never found any evidence that these artificial sweeteners are harmful, yet we know that an excess of sugar is, I think its safe to say that we are all better off choosing Crystal Light over regular lemonade.
1. Sugar substitutes make you hungrier. Research has shown this to be false. In fact, it was found that drinking one of the many beverages that contain sugar substitutes would actually provide the same satiety as eating or drinking a sugary drink. However, this is only due to filling the stomach, so the effect will subside when the stomach empties.
2. They trick the body into overeating. Again, research has disproved this! The only factor that may cause overeating is the feeling that one can eat other “treats” due to saving calories with a sugar substitute.
3. They increase sweet cravings. Again, humans are born with an affinity toward sweet foods; and having sweets, real sugar or substitutes, does not increase cravings.
4. Sugar substitutes add to the obesity epidemic. This is impossible because they have no caloric value.
5. They cause an insulin response leading to storage of fat. This has been studied and disproved.
6. They cause cancer. Over 200 studies have been done that refute this idea and no substantial evidence has been found to show otherwise.
The moral of the story is that sugar substitutes are safe in moderation. The upper safety limits of these products are so high that it would be almost impossible for a human to consume that much. Pregnant women and children can also safely enjoy products with sugar substitutes. This was definitely a very brief overview. Do you have questions? Please leave them in the comment section and I will answer to the best of my ability!
Information taken from the presentation by Adam Drewnowski, Ph.D.: Understanding Americans’ Approach to Weight Management: The Role of Low-Calorie Sweeteners