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If you are a diet soda lover, this could be a bad news for you. Low-calorie drinks and snacks that are made with artificial sweeteners are likely to cause diabetes and obesity, confirms a study . It leads to other health complications including heart disease as well. In this article, we will be discussing the dangers of artificial sweeteners.
The dangers of artificial sweeteners have been well-documented. Researchers wanted a better understanding of why the rates of obesity and diabetes continue to rise, despite the availability of artificial sweeteners. They concluded from a test that artificial sweeteners did pose negative effects  .
Sweets are hazardous to your health, but it's not very simple to stop using sugar, says lead researcher Brian Hoffmann, an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University.
He suggests cutting back on sugar altogether if you are concerned about obesity or diabetes. But consuming in moderation would help, he says.
Types Of Artificial Sweeteners
Aspartame is a sugar substitute that is odourless and looks like a white powder. It is measured to be 200 times sweeter than regular sugar. Aspartame is often used as a sweetener in beverages, gums, gelatins, and frozen desserts. It is considered not a good baking sweetener, since it breaks down the amino acids when cooked .
It is another artificial sweetener, which is measured to be around 30 to 50 times sweeter than common sugar. This artificial sweetener is the least effective among the list of artificial sweeteners  . Currently, cyclamate is banned in the United States; however, it is used in more than 130 countries.
Saccharin is measured to be 300 to 500 times sweeter than common sugar. This artificial sweetener is used to enhance the tastes and flavours of toothpaste, dietary beverages, cookies, candies, dietary foods and medicines. Though saccharin has been approved safe for use in many countries, the level of usage is completely restricted  .
Stevia is commonly used because it is low in calories and low in glycaemic index. This most commonly used sugar substitute is found in reduced calorie beverages and table sugar products. This artificial sweetener is found to be 100 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. According to the FDA (Federal Food And Drug Administration), stevia leaf and crude stevia extracts aren't safe and don't have the approval to use in food.
It was originally known as a natural sugar substitute but, in fact, it's a chlorinated sucrose derivative and its 600 times sweeter than sugar. A study published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health found that cooking with sucralose at high temperatures creates harmful chloropropanols - a toxic class of compounds ,  .
Side Effects Of Artificial Sweeteners
1. Can cause cancer
Regular usage of artificial sweeteners can result in blood cancer or brain cancer. Also, some studies have confirmed the strong links of artificial sweeteners to various diseases like chronic kidney disease, type 2 diabetes, neurological effects and metabolic disorders  . So, consumption of artificial sweeteners should be limited as much as possible.
2. Can lead to depression, bipolar disorder & panic attacks
According to Harvard Health Publishing, the use of artificial sweeteners can create severe conditions of depression, bipolar disorder and panic attacks. A person suffering from bipolar disorder who consumes artificial sweeteners can have extreme mood swings. Consuming artificial sweeteners in large amounts can also lead to depression, which then has to be controlled by medications. To avoid such conditions, you should completely stop taking these artificial sweeteners or decrease their intake.
3. Chemical ingestion
Artificial sweeteners are developed artificially to mimic the sweetness that naturally made sugar can produce. They are not packed with calories; however, they are made using synthetic or man-made substances  . This can cause issues like chemical ingestion, which the body isn't designed to deal with.
4. Leads to weight gain
Artificial sweeteners do not appear to help people in losing weight. People who regularly consume them by drinking one or more artificial-sweetened beverages a day have a higher risk of health issues like being overweight or obese. Artificial sweeteners directly affect the composition of your gut bacteria which is linked to weight gain. In addition, they increase your sugar cravings which don't completely satisfy the brain's desire for natural caloric sweet ingestion  .
5. Disrupts metabolism
Sweetness does play a role in how the body reacts to food by regulating the metabolic signal. If you consume diet soda with carbohydrates it may disrupt your metabolism and cause metabolic dysfunction  . It happens due to the blending of sweeteners and carbohydrates that could be damaging the body's metabolic response. But, if you only drink diet soda it is less harmful than one consumed with carbohydrates.
6. Increases diabetes risk
The intake of excess sweeteners may lead to a spike in blood sugar levels after meal consumption  . If an individual consumes high amounts of artificial sweeteners, it will affect the body's response to glucose. This is linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes. So, avoid having artificial sweeteners in large amounts.
7. Leads to cardiovascular disease
Women who consume more than two artificial sweetened beverages a day have an increased risk for coronary heart disease and it also elevates the risk for hypertension . In addition, daily consumption of diet sodas increased the risk for stroke and a decline in kidney function.
8. Causes inflammation
As artificial sweeteners are chemically altered, they can react in an opposite way in the body which may lead to inflammation. When the chemical structure is altered in sugar, it also affects how the body responds to it. The body can't recognize the artificial ingredients well so, sweeteners like aspartame triggers an immune response. And as aspartame is a neurotoxin, it causes inflammation and other possible health complications.
9. Bad for dental health
Most common foods with artificial sweeteners are soda, diet drinks, low-fat and low-calorie foods. All these foods have other add-on ingredients like citric acid or phosphoric acids which can damage your teeth. If your tooth is exposed to sweeteners regularly it will erode your tooth enamel .
In addition sugar from the drinks stick to the tooth surface forming plaque and the bacteria in your mouth uses the sugar from the plaque and forms acid. This turns out to be harmful to your teeth.
10. Risky for pregnant women
Sugary juices and sodas have been linked to an increased risk of premature births in pregnant women. In addition, sugar-sweetened drinks also increase the risk of childhood asthma and allergy during pregnancy according to a study  . So, instead of going for sweetened drinks have natural home-made fruit and vegetable juices.
Now you know the reasons to stay away from artificial sweeteners. Go for natural types of sugar like honey, coconut sugar, banana purée, blackstrap molasses, real fruit jam, etc.
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-  Why zero-calorie sweeteners can still lead to diabetes, obesity. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2018-04/eb2-wzs041218.php
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-  Yang Q. (2010). Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010.The Yale journal of biology and medicine,83(2), 101-8.
-  Swithers S. E. (2013). Artificial sweeteners produce the counterintuitive effect of inducing metabolic derangements.Trends in endocrinology and metabolism: TEM,24(9), 431-41.
-  Malik, V. S., & Hu, F. B. (2012). Sweeteners and risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes: the role of sugar-sweetened beverages.Current diabetes reports,12(2), 195-203.
-  Azad, M. B., Abou-Setta, A. M., Chauhan, B. F., Rabbani, R., Lys, J., Copstein, L., … Zarychanski, R. (2017). Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 189(28), E929–E939.
-  Cheng, R., Yang, H., Shao, M. Y., Hu, T., & Zhou, X. D. (2009). Dental erosion and severe tooth decay related to soft drinks: a case report and literature review.Journal of Zhejiang University. Science. B,10(5), 395-9.
-  Maslova, E., Strøm, M., Olsen, S. F., & Halldorsson, T. I. (2013). Consumption of artificially-sweetened soft drinks in pregnancy and risk of child asthma and allergic rhinitis.PloS one,8(2), e57261.
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