It’s difficult to satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming sugar, isn’t it? But artificial sweeteners claim to give you every benefit sugar does, minus the extra calories. It seems like the perfect win-win situation? Except, it really isn’t.
Ever since sugar substitutes like saccharin were introduced, public health advocates have been constantly questioning the safety of these artificial sweeteners. Furthermore, researchers are finding more and more reasons as to why sugar substitutes must be excluded from our diets. Wondering what these reasons are? Here are a few…
- They alter your taste buds
Sugar substitutes are way sweeter than sugar. In fact, sucralose— an artificial sweetener— is about 600 times sweeter than table sugar. By exposing your taste buds to such a high level of sweetness, you end up making them less receptive to natural, healthier sources of sweetness such as fruits. This dulls your taste buds and increases your propensity to consume sweet foods.
- Your hormones react differently
When you consume sweet foods, your body releases insulin— even if these sweet foods have zero calories. An increase in the release of insulin leads to blood sugar spikes, which in turn, increases your cravings, and makes you consume more food. Research has also suggested that sugar substitutes prevent the production of GLP-1, which is a hormone that keeps your sugar levels and hunger pangs under control.
- You tend to overeat
In the aforementioned points, we’ve covered the biochemical reasons behind why sugar substitutes can result in the higher consumption of food. There’s one more reason behind why artificial sweeteners could trick you into overeating— it’s because of the way they feel in your mouth. Foods that are sweet and dense tell your brain that they’re high-calorie foods. Sugar substitutes on the other hand, have a thinner consistency, and so, aren’t the most satisfying. This feeling of dissatisfaction hence causes us to overeat, which in turn could result in weight gain.
- They disrupt your metabolism
Food and beverages that are artificially sweetened hinder with the learned responses of the body that keep glucose homeostasis— which regulates fat metabolism— in control. This can therefore cause a disruption of the metabolism of your body.
Now that you know why sugar substitutes are not very healthy, here are a few conditions caused by various artificial sweeteners:
Saccharin could cause skin problems, nausea, diarrhea, and has also been linked to cancer.
This sugar substitute is known to cause mood disorders, memory problems, as well as other neurological illnesses.
It has been found that sucralose could cause muscle aches, stomach cramps, skin irritation and inflammation, as well as dizziness.
If you still want to enjoy sweet food but want to avoid the extra calories and the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners, you could try some of these natural sweeteners:
- Raw honey
This is a wonderful natural sugar substitute, as it’s rich in vitamin B—which is great if you need a natural energy boost.
- Black strap molasses
What’s great about this natural sweetener is that It’s high in vitamin B6, magnesium, calcium, as well as antioxidants, which makes it perfect for a cleanse.
- Coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is packed with iron, zinc, potassium, and antioxidants; and also has a low glycemic load.