Artificial sweeteners are often the subject of heated debate.
On one hand, they’re claimed to increase your risk of cancer and harm your blood sugar and gut health.
On the other hand, most health authorities consider them safe, and many people use them to reduce their sugar intake and lose weight.
This article reviews the evidence on artificial sweeteners and their health effects.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners, or sugar substitutes, are chemicals added to some foods and beverages to form them taste sweet.
People often ask them as “intense sweeteners” because they supply a taste almost like that of table sugar but up to many thousand-fold sweeter.
Although some sweeteners contain calories, the quantity needed to sweeten products is so small that you simply find yourself consuming almost no calories.
How do artificial sweeteners work?
The surface of your tongue is covered by many taste buds, each containing several taste receptors that detect different flavors (2Trusted Source).
When you eat, your taste receptors encounter food molecules.
A perfect fit between a receptor and molecule sends a signal to your brain, allowing you to identify the taste.
For example, the sugar molecule fits perfectly into your taste receptor for sweetness, allowing your brain to spot the sweet taste.
Artificial sweetener molecules are similar enough to sugar molecules to fit on the sweetness receptor.
However, they're generally too different from sugar for your body to interrupt them down into calories. This is how they supply a sweet taste without the added calories.
Only a minority of artificial sweeteners have a structure that your body can break down into calories. Given that only very small amounts of artificial sweeteners are needed to form foods taste sweet, you consume virtually no calories.
Common artificial sweeteners
Ø Aspartame. Sold under the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, or Sugar Twin, aspartame is 200 times sweeter than table sugar.
Ø Acesulfame potassium. Also known as acesulfame K, it’s 200 times sweeter than table sugar. It’s fitted to cooking and baking and sold under the brand names Sunnet or Sweet One.
Ø Advantame. This sweetener is 20,000 times sweeter than table sugar and fitted to cooking and baking.
Ø Aspartame-acesulfame salt. Sold under the name Twinsweet, it’s 350 times sweeter than table sugar.
Ø Cyclamate. Cyclamate, which is 50 times sweeter than table sugar, was used for cooking and baking. However, it has been banned in the United States since 1970.
Ø Neotame. Sold under the name Newtame, this sweetener is 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar and fitted to cooking and baking.
Ø Sacchari. Sold under the brand names Sweet’N Low, Sweet Twin, or Necta Sweet, saccharin is 700 times sweeter than table sugar.
Ø Sucralose. Sucralose, which is 600 times sweeter table sugar, is suited for cooking, baking, and mixing with acidic foods. It’s sold under the brand name Splenda.
Effects on appetite
Some people believe that artificial sweeteners might increase appetite and promote weight gain. The idea is that artificial sweeteners may be unable to activate the food reward pathway needed to make you feel satisfied after you eat (6Trusted Source).Given that they taste sweet but lack the calories found in other sweet-tasting foods, they’re thought to confuse the brain into still feeling hungry.Additionally, some scientists think you’d got to eat more of an artificially sweetened food, compared with the sugar-sweetened version, to feel full.It’s even been suggested that sweeteners may cause cravings for sugary foods .That said, many recent studies do not support the idea that artificial sweeteners increase hunger or calorie intake.
In fact, several studies have found that participants report less hunger and consume fewer calories when they replace sugary foods and beverages with artificially sweetened alternatives.
Effects on weight
Regarding weight control, some observational studies report a link between consuming artificially sweetened beverages and obesity
However, randomized controlled studies — the gold standard in scientific research — report that artificial sweeteners may reduce body weight, fat mass, and waist circumference.These studies also show that replacing regular soft drinks with sugar-free versions can decrease body mass index
What’s more, choosing artificially sweetened foods instead of those with added sugar may reduce the number of daily calories you consume.
Various studies ranging from 4 weeks to 40 months show that this may lead to weight loss of up to 2.9. Artificially sweetened drinks are often a simple alternative for those that regularly consume soft drinks and need to decrease their sugar consumption.
However, choosing diet soda won't cause any weight loss if you compensate by eating larger portions or extra sweets. If diet soda increases your cravings for sweets, sticking to water might be best.
Safety and side effects
Artificial sweeteners are generally considered safe for human consumption.
They are carefully tested and regulated by U.S. and international authorities to make sure they are safe to eat and drink.That said, some people should avoid consuming them.For example, individuals with the rare metabolic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine, which is found in aspartame. Thus, those with PKU should avoid aspartame.
What’s more, some people are allergic to sulfonamides — the class of compounds to which saccharin belongs. For them, saccharin may cause breathing difficulties, rashes, or diarrhea.
Notice: Please consult your doctor before following any instruction of www.myonlinedoctor.co.in