Are the Lower Calories of Artificial Sweeteners Worth the Risk? « Health Now, Wealth Forever

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By Tom, on September 27th, 2012

I blame sugar for the obesity epidemic. My personal proof is that my cutting sugary soda out of my diet lost me about 20 pounds of fat, and cutting all simple carbohydrates out lost me another 30. That 50 plus pounds of fat is all the proof I need. But, every once in awhile I have a unrepressable craving for something sweet.

Is it safer for me to just eat sugar in one of its forms (sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, honey, agave syrup, molasses, or brown sugar) or to eat a artificial sweetener? While there are several “natural” artificial sweeteners available, I will still eat real sugar rather than fake sweetener due to some unknowns that arise when the FDA allows artificial sweeteners on to the market, often with little or no research.

Here are some of the side effects that may or may not exist with artificial sweeteners:

Sucralose (Splenda): This is one of the few fake sugars that acts like sugar when you bake. A potential side-effect: Cancer. Sucralose is made by chlorinating sucrose. They replace the hydroxls in sucrose with chlorine, a known carcinogen.

Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low): One of the oldest artificial sweeteners, first produced way back in 1878. It was originally a coal tar by-product, now it’s made in factories by combining a bunch of chemicals you would probably steer clear of: anthranilic acid, nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia. It is currently considered safe by the FDA, but through the 1980′s and 90′s saccharin products had to carry a label saying that it may cause cancer. As of the year 2000, this warning is no longer required.

Aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet): This is usually found in diet sodas. Here’s why the Air Force doesn’t allow pilots to consume aspartame: “Aspartame has been investigated as a possible cause of brain tumors, mental retardation, birth defects, epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease, Fibromyalgia, and Diabetes.” But- the FDA says it’s OK.

Stevia (truvia): This is the newest commercially produced sweetener. It is from the stevia plant, which is said to be 300 times sweeter than sugar, yet nil calories. As usual, the FDA has approved it with little testing. Here are some reported side effects:

            • Lowers metabolism, disrupting food conversion to energy.
            • Cancer, some observations show cell mutation with stevia consumption.
            • Reproductive disruption. It may cause low sperm count and lower ability to carry offspring.

The biggest issue with stevia is a lack of research. The scientific community has barely scratched the surface with stevia, and yet the FDA went ahead and approved its use as food.

There are other artificial sweeteners on the market, generally they fall into the same boat. They’re available on the market, but have never received the testing they should have gotten.

So, when I need something sweet, I’ll stick to real sugar, honey, agave syrup, or brown sugar. At least I know what their side effects really are.