You’d need to consume 75 packets of Splenda a DAY to suffer health problems- so why all the fear?
There is no conclusive evidence that artificial sweeteners are dangerous and that according to experts you should consume up to 75 packs a day before you develop health problems.
In recent years, a series of scary studies have linked the sugar alternative to a host of conditions, from heart attacks to strokes, diabetes and even cancer.
But experts warn that the evidence is often circumstantial and the way the studies have been conducted is flawed — often focusing on participants who are already at risk for health problems due to advanced age and pre-existing conditions.
The FDA states that all six approved artificial sweeteners are safe to consume – up to 75 packs per day. A standard 12-ounce Diet Coke contains about five packets of sweeteners, according to the American Cancer Societywhich means you have to drink five liters a day before you start having health problems.
Meanwhile, decades of research have shown that just a few sugar cubes a day lead to problems such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancer and teeth. Sugar, unlike sweeteners, also has calories, so it carries a higher risk of obesity if overconsumed.
In recent years, a series of scary studies have linked the sugar alternative to a host of conditions, from heart attacks to strokes, diabetes and even cancer. But experts warn that the evidence is often circumstantial and the way the studies have been conducted is flawed
Kara Burnstine, nutrition educator at the Pritikin Longevity Center in Miami, told DailyMail.com that she recommends that clients consume no more than 10 to 12 packets of sweetener per day.
‘In our fight against weight gain, artificial sweeteners seem to be an effective weapon.
They are calorie and sugar free. Using it to replace sugars in our diet should lead to fewer calories consumed, weight loss and a reduced risk of obesity-related diseases,” said Burnstine.
Also called non-nutritive sweeteners, artificial sweeteners are FDA-regulated food additives that can be 200 to 700 times sweeter than table sugar.
They activate both sweet and bitter taste receptors and stimulate the “reward center” of the brain.
They also trick the brain into believing the body has consumed real sugar, leading to the release of insulin, which burns glucose in the blood.
“Nutrition-wise, the artificial sweeteners don’t add calories, but are made from different chemicals or some (stevia) from plant extracts,” Anne Lee, an assistant professor of nutritional medicine at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, told DailyMail.com.
The FDA has found the following artificial sweeteners safe to consume: acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), advantame, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose.
This means they are considered non-toxic for human consumption. While these contain few or no calories, they lack valuable nutrients such as vitamins and fiber.
Recent research has fueled the fear surrounding artificial sweeteners. a February study found links between artificial sweetener erythritol and an increased risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack or stroke.
The researchers looked at the effect of adding erythritol to whole blood or isolated platelets, or small pieces of cells in blood to help clot and aid in wound healing.
The researchers noted that erythritol is poorly metabolized and largely excreted in the urine.
She also found that circulating levels of multiple polyols, commonly found in artificial sweeteners, were associated with an increased incidence of cardiovascular events. When present in blood, erythritol made it easier for clotting, which could contribute to this risk of cardiac events.
However, the majority of participants were over the age of 60, increasing their existing risk of heart attack or stroke.
Several studies focusing on the negatives of artificial sweeteners have evaluated very specific populations.
While for example a study Biological Psychiatry found a possible link between aspartame and an increased risk of depression, the findings were limited to those who already had mood disorders. It could not prove conclusively that sweeteners were the cause.
Another study found increased brain activity associated with aspartame, even though the participants were specifically children with absence seizures.
Other research has found more general benefits.
a judgement for example, the journal Nutrition and Cancer found no evidence that sucralose causes cancer in humans.
A 2019 study from BMJ examined the effect of consuming artificially sweetened beverage consumption on cancer risk in more than 100,000 participants.
While the researchers found that consuming sugary drinks could increase cancer risk, artificially sweetened drinks did not have the same risk.
“There is no convincing evidence that aspartame (Nutrasweet), sucralose (Splenda) or saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) cause disease or pose a direct threat to human health,” Burnstine said.
Artificial sweeteners added by Burnstine could aid weight loss in replacing sugar – which could actually reduce the risk of health problems.
This includes swapping a can of Diet Coke for a can or swapping honey for a pack of Splenda.
“They may be beneficial for blood sugar control and therefore of particular benefit to diabetics when used in place of refined sugars, including fruit juice concentrates,” said Burnstine.
Lee stressed that more research is still needed to fully understand the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, but for now, the risks seem exaggerated.
“It would be important to have more studies that would look at the groups of sweeteners as a whole and also compare the effects of the different sweeteners on metabolism, microbiome and long-term health risks to make a final decision,” he said. she.
“It’s important to consider individual health conditions, such as diabetes and metabolism, to determine the safe amount of natural sugar for our bodies to use,” Burnstine said.
“In some cases, artificial sweeteners may be a suitable option to reduce overall sugar intake and help manage blood glucose levels, while in other cases, natural sweeteners such as fruit or honey may be a better choice.”
“We always recommend naturally sweetened whole foods like fruit over artificially sweetened foods, but a little low-calorie sweetener in your bowl of oatmeal in the morning or the occasional diet soda are always much better choices than baked goods or regular soda,” Burnstine said.
“If you choose to use zero-calorie sweeteners, choose sucralose or stevia because they have the strongest evidence that they are safe,” Burnstine said.