Are Artificial sweeteners and other sugar substitutes really useful? Know deets
Staying away from sugary snacks is not entirely possible. But, consuming a lot of it will result in weight gain and other health problems
Staying away from sugary snacks is not entirely possible. However, consuming a lot of sugar will only result in weight gain, further raising the risk of serious health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease.
In order to stay away from table sugar, some people use less processed sweeteners such as honey and molasses. But these also are forms of added sugar, they add calories to your diet.
Some also use products called sugar substitutes, also known as artificial sweeteners. They are supposed to taste like sugar but have fewer calories. Some even have zero calories.
Some of the brands produce sweeteners that are even sweeter than sugar which is why only a little of it is enough to replace the calories-filled sucrose.
Various foods and drinks are also available with artificial sweeteners claiming to be a healthier alternative to their original version with added sugar in it. These products are labeled sugar-free or diet. It includes soft drinks, candy, and baked goods.
Some sugar substitutes also are sold on their own in packets or other containers. These can be added to foods or drinks at home.
Some of the sugar substitutes used in packaged food include acesulfame potassium, advantame, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose, luo han guo, Purified stevia leaf extracts, etc.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States allows the following sugar substitutes to be used in food sold in the markets. They also allow product-makers to use sugar alcohol, such as sorbitol and xylitol. The agency doesn’t consider sugar alcohols to be food additives.
FDA and food safety agencies in other countries also suggest how much of a sugar substitute you can safely have each day. This amount is called the acceptable daily intake (ADI).
In short, artificial sweeteners are safe if consumed in limited amounts for healthy people, including pregnant women.
However, if you are someone living with a rare genetic disease called phenylketonuria, avoid foods and drinks with sugar substitutes (aspartame especially) as it can lead to serious health problems.
Other than them, people with bowel disease must also cut out on sugar substitutes as it might make their symptoms flare up.
According to studies, children under 2 years old should not be given sugar substitutes. Although more studies on this are still required, as of now it is known that sugar substitutes might have long-term health effects on children.
Health benefits of sugar substitutes
Replacing sugar with sugar substitutes could lower your risk of getting tooth decay and cavities. It also doesn’t raise the level of sugar in the blood.
Adults and children suffering from obesity may also be benefited from sugar substitutes as it helps manage weight in the short term. It is because these regulators often are low in calories or have no calories. But it’s not clear whether sugar substitutes can help people manage their weight over the long term.
Health concerns linked to sugar substitutes
So far, health agencies have not found any clear sign of serious health problems due to sugar substitutes. It is also not linked to a higher risk of cancer in people. A study in 1970 did find artificial sweetener saccharin to bladder cancer in rats, but these findings have not yet been proven effective on humans.
Some researchers have claimed that long-term, daily use of artificial sweeteners, can lead to a higher risk of stroke, heart disease, and death overall. But, a debate on it stands that it could also be the result of other things people do that don’t help sustain a healthy lifestyle.
Other research focused on the effect of sugar substitutes on gut health and brain communication. Studies are still being conducted on this matter to find out if sugar substitutes affect cravings for sweets.
Meanwhile, sugar alcohol can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhea. It depends from person to person what amount of sugar alcohol triggers such symptoms.
In general, it is safest to take in small amounts of sugar substitutes. And it’s best to use sugar substitutes for a short time, or just every once in a while. So try to cut back if you use them a few times a day.