Playing It Safe With Artificial Sweeteners
Millions of Americans rely on artificial sweeteners to help cut calories. However, there are conflicting reports on the efficacy and safety of these sugar substitutes. To help you make the best choices for you and your family, here are some things you should know.
Understanding the Facts About Artificial Sweeteners
- Consider using Stevia. This ingredient in natural herbal classified as a dietary supplement and not an artificial sweetener. Although the FDA has not approved Stevia as a sweetener, the plant itself has been used for centuries in South America and Japan.
2. Stay up to date on research. With so many of these substances widely used, they are constantly in the tests. There is always something new to learn about them, and the experimental results are sometimes surprising.
• A recent trial from the University of Texas found that users of diet sodas experienced a 70 percent greater increase in waist circumference compared with non-users.
• A related study also found that aspartame raised blood sugar in diabetes-prone mice.
3. Artificial sweeteners may alter the natural signals of your body. Some studies suggest that sugar substitutes can confuse our bodies. Throughout human history, we can usually count on sugary foods to be eating heavy. Our bodies let us know when we were eating too. Now, however, things are different.
• It seems that humans can now be less sensitive to sensory cues that indicate which are fattening foods or unhealthy. This means that we find difficult to say when we’ve had enough sugar. It can also be difficult to determine the amount of a sweetener too.
• Although there is no research definitively linking this trend to the use of artificial sweeteners, speculation is rampant in the medical community. Expect to see quite a few published studies in the next few years.
Using Artificial Sweeteners Safely
- Eat a balanced diet. What you eat sugar or substitutes, make sure to leave room for nutrient-rich foods. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats.
2. Be realistic about calorie savings. It takes just 3,500 calories to gain a pound of body weight. That’s about 5 large servings of French fries a year. So if you switch to a diet food or drink to allow indulging elsewhere, avoid going overboard.
• Read the labels carefully. Sugar-free foods can still be high in calories and fat. Check the label to know what you’re really eating.
3. Pay attention to side effects. If you experience side effects such as headaches and stomach upset when using an artificial sweetener, stop using the sweetener to see if your symptoms go away.
4. Use sweeteners mindfully. Another good thing about sugar substitutes is that they can often be used in tiny quantities. Taste your food first so you add only as much as you need.
5. Reduce gradually, Sweeteners. If you have trouble eating one potato chip, you have seen firsthand how to eat a lot of Sweeteners and fats tends to make you want more Sweeteners and fats. If you want to reduce, take a step at a time. For example, substitute berries for half of your regular bowl of ice cream.
6. Learn to love the other flavors. Train to enjoy the flavors other than Sweeteners. Put something back into your salad as okra tart or bitter radicchio.
7. Talk to your doctor. Discuss any questions you have on artificial sweeteners with your doctor. This is especially important if you are trying to lose weight for medical reasons or if you need to manage diabetes.
Knowing the facts about artificial sweeteners allows you to make informed decisions. Keeping up with current research and be smart about using these sugar substitutes will benefit you in many ways.