Artificial Sweeteners: Is It Lurking in Your Diet?

Switched to diet soda in the hopes of living a healthier life? Be warned: a study has suggested that artificial sweeteners found in many sugar-free food and drinks like Diet Coke, diet toast, yogurt and chocolates may play a role in weight gain.

The premise of artificial sweeteners is to offer an apparent benefit to those hoping to reduce their sugar and calorie intake, yet many are now questioning their use due to recent research conducted on their effects on the body. Commonly used artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, acesulfame-potassium, saccharin and sucralose, have been found as additives in many processed foods and beverages, yet their safety and effectiveness as both a diet supplement and weight-loss aid are now being questioned.

One recent study conducted by the American Heart Association found that when artificial sweeteners were tested against natural sweeteners throughout a 15-month period, the volunteers who relied on artificial sweeteners demonstrated a higher risk of metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure and an increased risk of obesity. This same study also linked artificial sweeteners to weight gain and an increased risk of obesity due to their ability to change the body’s response to certain sweeteners and its ability to regulate metabolism.

Studies have also suggested that artificial sweeteners may be linked to increased risk of certain diseases. A research team at Harvard University correlated the use of artificial sweeteners to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and stroke. Although evidence is inconclusive, there does appear to be a correlation between the two, and suggests that artificial sweeteners may be doing more harm than good.

Despite all of the negative evidence against artificial sweeteners, it is important to note that more research is still needed. With the current level of evidence being inconclusive, the final verdict on artificial sweeteners may still be up in the air. What is known, however, is that many artificial sweeteners contain toxins found in food, chemicals or industrial materials. Therefore, if one chooses to switch to diet sodas and sugar-free food and drinks, it’s important to read labels and become aware of what ingredients are being used.

Overall, artificial sweeteners can have some benefit, particularly when paired with a healthy balanced diet and regular exercise. Yet, many of the available studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be doing more harm than good. The decision to consume or avoid artificial sweeteners should be based on one’s own personal research and beliefs.

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