Bad News for Artificial Sweeteners

For years, I have warned patients and readers about the health problems connected to artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, sucralose, aspartame, advantame, acesulfame-potassium, and neotame. These non-natural sweeteners have long been promoted to help with weight control by lowering calories from natural sweeteners and simple carbohydrates that increase blood sugar, insulin, and thus weight.

Artificial sweeteners are known to be 200 to 20,000 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose)! The FDA has endorsed these sweeteners despite lacking high-quality studies. However, the FDA may need to rethink its endorsement in light of negative recent studies.

 

A Recipe For Weight Gain and Diabetes

Interestingly, artificial sweeteners do not help with weight loss but can actually increase it by causing chemical changes that make people feel less full. Moreover, researchers have found that artificial sweeteners cause insulin increases and elevate the risk for type 2 diabetes by up to 24%.

Mood Destabilizer?

Researchers published an article in Nutritional Neuroscience that demonstrated aspartame and its linkage to behavioral and cognitive problems. The paper states that aspartame increases the levels of phenylalanine and aspartic acid in the brain, which imbalance other neurotransmitters. In addition, aspartame can increase the stress hormone cortisol, which can contribute to anxiety and depression.

Microbiome Menace

Several studies in the past ten years have demonstrated that artificial sweeteners can negatively affect the microbiome (microbes of the gut) and cause gut inflammation and leaky gut syndrome. In addition, artificial sweeteners may cause gut motility changes, which could be an issue for people with common conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Inflammation

A recent paper in Frontiers in Nutrition states that there is evidence that artificial sweeteners can promote inflammatory pathways, especially in the gut. The gut is the main warehouse of the immune system and the inflammation response. It is well established that chronic inflammation is a known risk factor for most major chronic diseases.

 

Recommendation

Avoid the use of artificial sweeteners that your body was not designed to interact with. Natural options such as fruit, raw honey, maple syrup, lo han (monk fruit) are better options. If a recipe requires sweetening, then even table sugar is better than artificial sweeteners in my opinion. Obviously, the amount and frequency of sugar consumption are the most important items to consider. Occasional use of sugar in a healthy diet is not something to get stressed about.

 

 

Dr. Mark Stengler NMD, MS, is a bestselling author in private practice in Encinitas, California, at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine. His newsletter, Dr. Stengler’s Health Breakthroughs, is available at www.americasnaturaldoctor.com His clinic website is www.markstengler.com

 

References

Basson AR, Rodriguez-Palacios A, Cominelli F. Artificial Sweeteners: History and New Concepts on Inflammation. Front Nutr. 2021 Sep 24;8:746247. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2021.746247. PMID: 34631773; PMCID: PMC8497813.

Choudhary AK, Lee YY. Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection? Nutr Neurosci. 2018 Jun;21(5):306-316. doi: 10.1080/1028415X.2017.1288340. Epub 2017 Feb 15. PMID: 28198207.

Conz A, Salmona M, Diomede L. Effect of Non-Nutritive Sweeteners on the Gut Microbiota. Nutrients. 2023 Apr 13;15(8):1869. doi: 10.3390/nu15081869. PMID: 37111090; PMCID: PMC10144565.

Cotelo J. Artificial sweeteners increase cardiovascular risk. Artificial Sweeteners Increase Cardiovascular Risk. August 22, 2023. Accessed September 29, 2023. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/artificial-sweeteners-increase-cardiovascular-risk-2023a1000jjg.

Samuthpongtorn CNguyen LHOkereke OI, et al. Consumption of Ultraprocessed Food and Risk of Depression. JAMA Netw Open. 2023;6(9):e2334770. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2023.34770

Spencer M, Gupta A, Dam LV, Shannon C, Menees S, Chey WD. Artificial Sweeteners: A Systematic Review and Primer for Gastroenterologists. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016 Apr 30;22(2):168-80. doi: 10.5056/jnm15206. PMID: 26932837; PMCID: PMC4819855.