Cutting down our intake of sugar is one of the first things that we do when we wish to lose weight. Those suffering from diabetes also look for sugar substitutes and often turn to artificial sweeteners. They are marketed as products that help to lose weight and are deemed safe for consumption by diabetics. However, they are not the safest option for you! There are also side effects of artificial sweeteners, including worsening blood sugar.
What are artificial sweeteners?
The artificial sweeteners, also known as non nutritive sweeteners, are used in drugs, beverages, dietary products and mouthwash. They are seen as an alternative to sugar as they provide more intense sweetness or a few calories per gram, according to Indian Journal of Pharmacology.
They might be more or less calorie-free, but are loaded with a lot of side effects, said integrative health coach and nutritionist Neha Ranglani via Instagram.
Artificial sweeteners cause inflammation
The inflammation is caused as they are chemicals and weaken the liver. Aspartame is one of the common artificial sweeteners. If you are sensitive to it, your immune system might react to the “foreign substance” by attacking the chemical, which will ultimately trigger an inflammatory response, according to Arthritis Foundation.
Artificial sweeteners worsen insulin resistance
The artificial sweeteners trick your brain into thinking that something sweet is coming. This in turn signals to release insulin thereby, affecting your blood sugar levels. Ingestion of artificial sweeteners results in the release of insulin from pancreas which is mistaken for glucose as they taste sweet. This shoots up the levels of insulin in blood which then leads to decreased receptor activity due to insulin resistance, as per the Journal of Family Medicine and Primary Care.
Artificial sweeteners worsen gut microbiome
Gut microbiome refers to all of the microbes in your intestines, and it gets affected by artificial sweeteners as they increase the pop of bad bacteria in the gut.
Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain
They don’t lead to weight loss, but cause weight gain as they weaken the tastebuds, and natural sweet foods taste unappetizing so you end up eating more.
It’s not just Ranglani who connected artificial sweeteners with weight gain, but there’s also a study to support this.
A research published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed that studies that looked at consumption over time suggested that people who regularly consumed the artificial sweeteners had a higher risk for health issues like weight gain and obesity.
But the association of artificial sweetener and weight gain as well as elevated risk of cardiometabolic disease have not been confirmed in experimental studies. New studies are still required to compare different types and formulations of artificial sweeteners. The net effect of substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar needs to be evaluated.
In the mean time, as there is an increase in use of artificial sweeteners, caution is warranted until benefits and the long-term risks of these products are fully characterized. So if you regularly consume them, especially by drinking one or more artificially sweetened drinks a day, then it’s time to be less dependent on them.