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Think that sprinkling that packet of artificial sweetener into your coffee is a healthier substitute for sugar? Think again.

 

I was one of those “hyperactive” kids. You know, the ones who us grownups refer to as the “Energizer Bunny”. They never stop talking, singing, dancing, climbing, moving; and sometimes we wish that they would. 

Because of that, my mom was forever altering my diet with powders and potions. At Grandma’s house, if a soda was offered, it had to be the diet kind. And not because I needed to lose weight, because I was seriously the scrawniest thing you ever saw. Truly. It was because way back in the late 1970s, parents knew that sugar had a negative impact on kids’ behavior. 

What they didn’t know, was the negative impact that artificial sweeteners have on our health, nor that they can have an even more problematic impact on blood sugar than processed white sugar. Or the damage they cause to the gut microbiome.

But my body sure did know. It didn’t need all the scientific data from lab studies. The impact of those chemicals (yes, chemicals) on my body was immediate and spectacular. A few sips off of one of those diet sodas would have me leaned over emptying the contents of my stomach into the nearest possible vessel. Eewwwww.

The body always knows. It is very intelligent. Sometimes, as grownups, we’ve just forgotten how to listen to its subtle whispers (or screaming shouts). 

So…think artificial sweeteners are a good substitute for regular sugar if you’re trying to lose weight, avoid carbs and improve your health? Think they’re a good idea if you’ve decided to jump on the Keto bandwagon as a method of getting your sweet fix while avoiding the added carbs and calories from sugar and natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup? Think again.

Sugar substitutes do not add calories to your diet, but the long-term health risks are just not worth it if you ask me, and are just as, if not more so dangerous than processed sugar. 

Here are 6 Reasons to Think Twice about Reaching for that Packet of Artificial Sweetener:

  1. One of the reasons that many people choose to use artificial sweeteners is because they think they will help them avoid weight gain or lose weight. The artificial sweeteners found in NutraSweet, Equal, Sweet’N Low, and Splenda have all been shown to raise blood sugar levels significantly higher than regular white sugar. You know what this leads to? Diabetes. And more weight gain.
  2. Artificial sweeteners negatively influence the gut microbiome by promoting the growth of bad bacteria that hoard calories…leading to fat gain, not loss. Oops.
  3. Artificial sweeteners actually kill off the beneficial bacteria in your gut, encouraging the overgrowth of harmful bacteria…leading to inflammation, suppressed immune function, decreased absorption of nutrients, and leaky gut.
  4. Artificial sweeteners stimulate the same opioid receptors in the brain as regular sugar, leading to more cravings, and often higher intake of non-nutrient dense food…leading to weight gain and nutrient deficiencies. Studies have shown that people who consume diet beverages are more likely to gain weight than those who consume non-diet beverages (ie Diet Coke vs regular Coke).
  5. Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners are addictive…refer to the opioid receptors above. Yup, addictive. Like cigarettes, heroine, cocaine and other yucky stuff.
  6. This study showed that folks who consume diet beverages containing artificial sweeteners on a daily basis have a 36% increased risk of metabolic syndrome (obesity) and a 67% increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes. You read that right, a 67% increased risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes! Count me out.

In last week’s blog, I discussed the harmful effects of sugar, beyond the obvious weight gain, that most people are unaware of. This week I wanted to highlight the importance of not replacing one unhealthy option with an even unhealthier option. We live in a culture of over-abundance of “sugary stuff” that is wreaking havoc on our blood sugar, our gut health and overall health. 

Retraining ourselves to eat a diet composed of mainly whole food sources of meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy fats, while not the most convenient or fun, is the BEST way to break the sugar habit and begin rebuilding your health. Not sure where to start? Be sure to sign up for my email newsletter to claim your free download of my FREE color-coded food planning guide that will help you get back on the road to optimal health.