Reasons to Quit Artifical Sweeteners

I’m often asked if it’s ok to drink and/or eat foods make with artificial sweeteners.

My answer is always no. It’s not ok. Artificial sweeteners are not a healthy substitute for sugar.

Artificial sweeteners can’t trick and satisfy your brain, leaving you hungry for more. The authors of a new study argue that for the brain to get pleasure from eating sweets, they have to be accompanied by energy (calories). They use the term ‘sugar-to-energy pathway.’ Without the taste of sugar translating to energy, dopamine–the brain hormone that controls pleasure and reward–is not released properly. Without dopamine, you don’t feel the pleasure, and that’s when you’re left hungry for more.

Artificial sweeteners miss the point

 

Switching from energy sweeteners or no-energy artificial sweeteners doesn’t prompt you to make a lifestyle change. One of the statements the authors make that I agree with:

“Humans frequently ingesting low-calorie sweet products [products made with artificial sweeteners] in a state of hunger or exhaustion may be more likely to ‘relapse’ and choose high calorie alternatives in the future.

They continue to say:

“The results suggest that a ‘happy medium’ could be a solution; combining sweeteners with minimal amounts of sugar so that energy metabolism doesn’t drop, while caloric intake is kept to a minimum.”

That’s where I disagree with them. My suggestion for a ‘happy medium’ is a small amount of natural sweetness accompanied by protein or fat. I keep saying this over and over again, you want to lower the amount of sweetness you need to satisfy your taste buds. Artificial sweeteners just keep you addicted to the taste of sugar. Instead of combining sugar with artificial sugar (both bad for you), incorporating protein or fat will slow down the sugar and insulin response, provide energy, and trigger the satiety hormones to kick in.

Artificial Sweeteners Lead to Weight Gain

One study followed 474 people for 10 years and found that people who drank diet soda packed on more belly fat and had 70% greater increase in their waist circumference than those who didn’t drink soda. People who averaged two or more diet sodas a day had 500 percent larger increases in waist circumference! Belly fat increases your risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems.

Safety of Artificial Sweeteners

While approved by the FDA, safety of artificial sweeteners is questionable. Many reports link Aspartame use to brain tumors, neurological conditions, diabetes, birth defects, food sensitivities, and other side effects. You’ll find reports on both sides: some warning against it and others assuring its safety. There’s too much Aspartame in our food and we don’t know the long-term effects. Avoid for a cleaner body and better health.

The other sweeteners that’s often considered safe is sucralose. However, consuming it can reduce the number of healthy bacteria in your gut and increase the pH of your gut (so bad bugs can easily grow). I see many people with bacterial overgrowth, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and food sensitivities, which all result from gut dysbiosis (imbalance in gut bacteria levels). The side effects of these conditions are pain, discomfort, and low quality of life. There’s no way I can tell someone that sucralose-containing products are safe.

So What’s for Dessert?

Honey in small amounts is my go-to for a small dessert. When I’m craving something sweet I mix 1-2 tablespoons of almond or peanut butter, 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, 1/2 tsp honey, and cinnamon. I use it as a dip for fruits, like strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and apples. Adding nut butter balances the sugar and helps improve satiety.

Have you ever tasted the natural sweetness of almond peanut butter? A cinnamon stick?  If you quit sugar, you can!

 

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    About Nour Zibdeh

    6 Responses to “Reasons to Quit Artifical Sweeteners”

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    1. Lovetoblog says:

      I love this! I do agree with you! I understand why people add artificial sweeteners. Why don’t they just add honey to their tea?

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Thanks for the comment! Some people don’t like the taste of honey (which I think is delicious) Many artificial sweeteners have a bitter aftertaste, so I’m not sure why they’re more sensitive to the flavor of honey. You have to keep in mind that you still need to keep the portion of honey small and keep the sugar (honey or other sweeteners) content of your diet low. It will add up if you swap your teaspoon of cane sugar to teaspoon of honey.

    2. this is one of the difficult question I face with my clients too..Esp for weight loss and diabetics, I do recommend switching to splenda or sugar free products and have seen a huge improvement..but for general health and well- being, I agree with your points. How do you tackle someone who drinks 5-6 cans of coke daily?

      • Nour Zibdeh says:

        Hi Dixyal,
        I rarely recommend any artificial sweeteners. I always tell people you have to train yourself to enjoy foods that aren’t too sweet. Plus, eating too many sweet-flavored foods makes broccoli, kale, and other vegetable seem too bitter. People still lose weight and improve their health and wellness, and it’s sort of a transformation that it’s amazing to watch over time. As for the diet soda questions… depends on the personality. Some people like to flip their diets and kick the habit overnight. Other people like to decrease slowly. I don’t switch them from regular soda to diet. If they drink 5-6 cans, I make an agreement to drink 2 cans a day in the beginning and ask them “can you do this?” I always remind them, “what would you rather have, soda or health?” it usually works with food sensitivity patients: “would you rather drink soda or get rid of your headaches?” Everyone ALWAYS prefers no headache over soda… you’ve got to find what matters to them. And they have to be motivated to do it for themselves. Wow… that was long :)

    3. I so agree with you here. I work with cancer patients, and many of them really want to cut down on added sugar (especially those who have gained weight with treatment). I always discourage artificial sweeteners, as well as stevia (still under-studied I think, and usually ‘cut’ with alcohol solvent or other). We work on losing the sweet tooth and making really tasty (occasional) treats with foods that are naturally sweet, like dates and prunes, even carrots and beetroot, with the fibre mitigating steep rises in blood sugar. I also think combining a little sweet with protein is brilliant and certainly increase satisfaction and satiety. For honey, I recommend best quality acacia for its lower GL.

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