Monday, May 21, 2012

Information on Artificial Sweeteners

**** With our new wt loss class just starting and the multiple wt loss challenges I am involved in at local companies, I figured it would be a good idea to drag this one up from is still one of the most common questions / concerns / arguments I get in my weight loss classes.  The only thing that has changed since this was published is that, conservatively, now 70+% of the US population is overweight or obese and 30+% of the US will have Type II Diabetes by 2030 unless something drastic is done soon!

Information on Artificial Sweeteners

- by permission from

With the recent (2005) lawsuits regarding Splenda, I thought ya'all might enjoy this response from a friend of mine who specializes in this type of thing (it's long, so you might want to print and save for another time):

The lawsuits are really driven by rivals NutraSweet and Equal, because in four years it has captured more than 50% of the $1 billion artificial-sweetener market in the US. The point of contention is whether Splenda can really claim that it's made from sugar, since the final product is several steps removed from its natural form. Don't let the press hype scare you. By the way, I get asked this type of question so much that I have a synopsis on my website. I've included it below for your viewing pleasure:

* Q: I can't believe that you recommend so many products that contain artificial sweeteners. Don't you know anything??? They cause brain damage and cancer, and natural Turbinado sugar or honey is much better for you!

* A: Hum.....As much as I want to make fun of your accusing tone, I won't. For some reason, this is a huge emotional issue with people. Instead of making decisions based upon good old common sense, they chose a side - and stick to it. So lets start with the facts. Honey is bee vomit (it really is), but it does have some nutrients, so it's OK unless you are trying to drop body fat. Sugar (including your beloved Tubinado), is made from sugar cane or sugar beets. These are the two most selectively bred and genetically engineered organisms on earth. Then it is refined and processed using a host of chemicals, many of which are lethal. The end product has had all of the nutrients removed. What's left is then processed, packaged and shipped. We evolved the attraction to sweets because in nature, sweet usually means nutritious (think fruits). What sugar manufactures produce is not natural, and is added to foods to "trick" our bodies into consuming. This is the same approach that cigarette manufactures got in trouble for with their use of nicotine! When you eat something that contains sugar, your body releases insulin in preparation to store all of the nutrients that it thinks are coming. And guess what? There is nothing there but empty calories, so your body stores this as fat. This constant fooling of your bodies hormones eventually might get to the point where your body quits responding to its own insulin. Sorta like the boy who cried wolf. We call this condition Type 2 Diabetes, and it's becoming a huge health problem along with the obesity caused by storing all those empty calories. 100 years ago before the widespread use of sugar, it was unheard of. Artificial sweeteners have raised concerns. But I have actually read the abstracts on the research (most people haven't) and will give you a quick synopsis: Aspartame (Nutrasweet) will break down in your body to aspartic acid, phenylalanine and methanol. Aspartic acid and Phenylalanine are essential amino acids - so you have to have them. Methanol is found naturally in some vegetables and fruits, but is toxic at high doses. 12 oz. of tomato juice has six times more methanol than 12 oz of diet soda sweetened with aspartame. The real problem is when you heat aspartame, it breaks down to diketopiperazine which is also toxic at high doses. You would die long before your body could reach that temperature (142�F), but don't use aspartame to cook with or add to hot beverages. Also Aspartame cannot be metabolized in a minor portion of the population with a generic disorder called phenylketonuria (PKU). The sweetener has therefore had to live with a PKU information statement. Many legitimate controlled studies have been done that showed individuals claiming to have negative effects from aspartame experienced NO negative effects from aspartame when they didn't know they were taking it. Talk about power of suggestion. The only place I can find negative information on aspartame is in the various "fanatical" health publications that are floating around. [200 studies over 20 years] Saccharin (Sweet 'n Low) does increase the incidence of bladder cancer in male rats by a factor of 1.6. This is at the human equivalent dose of 298 cans of diet soft drink a day for 57 years. This is one of the longest studied artificial sweeteners, and there has never been one confirmed case of it causing cancer in humans. Saccharin was marked with a carcinogenicity warning label for years until Congress passed the Saccharin Warning Elimination via Environmental Testing Employing Science and Technology Act in late 2000, removing the label and affirming the product's safety. [4000 studies over 80 years] Sucralose (Splenda) is the only non-caloric sweetener made from sugar. It is simply a carb that cannot be digested by humans, so you receive no calories from it. Remember that fiber (which is vital to your health, and most people do not get enough of it) is also simply a carb that cannot be digested by humans. [100 studies over 15 years] Acesulfame Potassium or Acesulfame K (Sunett) same as sucralose but not made from sugar. [90 studies over 15 years] Polyols (sugar alcohols) are found naturally in foods, but are not a sugar and not an alcohol. They still have calories, but less than table sugar. The digestion process in humans causes the production of Methane in your GI tract, so gas can be a problem. [300 studies over 40 years] Stevia is a plant found in South America which has been used for centuries as a sweetener. But the use was of whole leaves, not a refined extract of the stevioside (molecule that makes it sweet). In the US Stevia cannot be sold or labeled as a sweetener because it has not been granted a clean bill of health by the FDA, so it's sold as a dietary supplement in health food stores. It has no calories for the same reasons as Sucralose and Acesulfame Potassium the human body cannot digest it. But long term legitimate studies of the stevioside extracts effect on human health do not exist, no matter what the people who stand to profit from it say. [studies in progress] As always, go back to common sense. How many people do you know that are either obese or suffering from Type 2 diabetes (hint-35% of the US Population is obese, which is 18 million people). Now compare them to all the people you know who have had brain damage or cancer from artificial sweeteners (hint-none; but more than 163 million people in the US regularly consume artificial sweeteners). Get the facts, do the math and decide what is a bigger threat to your health.