Artificial Sweeteners cause greater health damage than Sugar.
Non-sugar sweeteners more chronically harmful than Sugar.
Hoax or Fact:
Mixture of hoax and facts.
There is this common belief that the widely used Artificial Sweeteners can cause greater health damage than Sugar. Today, we are going to analyze the possibility of these health claims.
Sugar Substitute Artificial Sweeteners
A sugar substitute is a food additive that duplicates the taste effect of sugar and generally has less food energy. Note that artificial sweeteners are regulated as food additives by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). While some sugar substitutes are natural, some are synthetic. The synthetic sugar substitutes can be derived from sugar or other naturally occurring substances like plants & herbs. Those that are not natural are generally called Artificial Sweeteners. They are used to reduce the sugar (sucrose) intake, for cutting calories or eating healthier, and are used in a variety of food and beverages like baked goods, soft drinks, canned foods, candies, fruit juice, ice cream and yogurt. Such products are usually marketed as "sugar-free" or "diet". Common artificial sweeteners include Saccharin, Acesulfame potassium (Sunett), Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal), Sucralose (Splenda) and D-Tagatose among many others. But are all these artificial sweeteners safe?
Artificial sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar and not all are created equal; many are even cheaper than sugar. The health safety of artificial sweeteners has been under intense scrutiny for decades -- that they lead to variety of health problems, including Cancer. Laboratory studies dating back to the 1970s linked Saccharin to cancer of the skin, bladder, uterus, ovaries and other organs in rats. Later it was found that very high doses of Saccharin may cause bladder cancer in male rats; not in female rats or anyone else. Nonetheless, artificial sweeteners are thought to negatively affect our metabolism and brain. Also, some animal studies have proven that artificial sweeteners cause bladder cancer, brain tumors, weight gain and other health hazards.
Apart from the serious diseases, there are concerns about the side effects the artificial sweeteners can incur, because millions of people consume them as food additives in various products for years. Most countries widely use the sugar substitutes in various food and beverages. In 2009, the American Heart Association (AHA) concluded that the current intake of added sugars among Americans greatly exceeded the discretionary calorie allowances based on the 2005 US Dietary Guidelines. In a related report published in 2012, the American Heart Association (AHA) and American Diabetes Association (ADA) concluded that there is insufficient data to determine conclusively whether the use of Nonnutritive Sweeteners reduces added sugars/carbohydrate intakes, or benefits appetite, body weight, or cardio-metabolic risk factors. They also pointed the importance of limiting added sugars to support optimal nutrition and healthy weights. There are also some studies suggesting artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota (microbe population living in our intestine).
Diabetes and Weight Loss
Artificial sweeteners are usually considered a good alternative to sugar for people with diabetes. However, foods that contain artificial sweeteners (sugar-free) may not be carbohydrate-free and can affect blood sugar levels. As mentioned above, some studies suggest artificial sweeteners can induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota in otherwise healthy people, and this is a well-known precursor to type 2 diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners are not magic bullets for weight loss either. There are some studies suggesting artificial sweeteners can cause greater weight gain instead. A 2010 report published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine (YJBM) cited many studies which found positive correlation between artificial sweetener use and weight gain. The experiments found that sweet taste (in artificial sweeteners), regardless of its caloric content, enhances your appetite. On the other hand, the calorie content in natural sweeteners like sugars trigger biological responses that maintain your overall energy consumption. The report even concludes that unsweetening people's diet may be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic in world.
To conclude, well-designed large-scale studies in the general population are needed to understand the health effects of using artificial sweeteners, if they are really a good replacement for sugar. Meanwhile, natural sweeteners like fruit juices, honey, nectars, molasses and maple syrup are better substitutes for the refined, concentrated sugar. And remember that consuming too much artificial (added sugar), or even natural sweeteners can cause health issues like tooth decay, poor nutrition and weight gain. Moderation is the key to good health, it's also important to include whole foods such as fruits and vegetables to your diet.