The results of artificial sweeteners– which are supposed to cut calorie intake and help health-conscious people lose weight– may not be so sweet after all.
How can popular sweeteners like Splenda, which meets the FDA’s standards as a “no-calorie” food, actually end up harming your chances of dropping some pounds? Research suggests that because the sugars are artificial, our bodies are ill-equipped to naturally gauge how much we’ve eaten. So we end up unintentionally overeating.
The trouble with artificial sweeteners can also be a matter of the mind. If you feel too confident about the calories you’re saving by cutting real sugar from your diet, you may end up eating too much because you think you’ve got a lot more nutritional wiggle room than you really do. When you reward yourself with too many high-cal treats, a packet or two of sweetener won’t make a difference.
Unfortunately, a lot of sweeteners also carry other risks. A study by Duke University showed the difference between rats who were fed normal food and rats who were fed food made with sucralose (Splenda). The results showed more harm to the latter because of a bacterium issue. The sucralose diminished the amount of microbiota, or “gut flora,” in the rat’s intestines. You’ve likely heard of “bad” and “good” bacteria, and gut flora falls squarely in the “good” category. It helps regulate your metabolism (meaning your stomach fat, or lack thereof, can be affected) and is vital for your overall health. Cases like these, along with some reports of digestive issues caused by artificial sweeteners, should make us all take pause before stocking up on packets.
That doesn’t mean you’re stuck with a sugary diet, though. There are plenty of healthy artificial alternatives that are naturally fermented from fruits, vegetables, or leaves. Try out Truvia™ or Sun Crystals™ if you want to make the switch to a sweetener, or if you want to head toward a full-on lifestyle change, start limiting your amount of sweets, period. It’ll lead to a healthier life and a healthier, happier you.