What you need to know about artificial sweeteners


February 7, 2013

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By Betty Murray

They may contain fewer calories, but artificial sweeteners are not a harmless substitute for sugar. Over the years, there has been plenty of research on low-calorie and zero calorie artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, which is found in Equal and Nutrasweet, but there is little clarity on the actual effect artificial sweeteners have on your health.

Relationship between artificial sweeteners and cancer

It has long been suspected that artificial sweeteners increase risk of cancer, but there has been little evidence to prove this as fact. The body breaks aspartame down into methanol, which is converted into formaldehyde, a known carcinogen.

A two decade-long study recently published found that men who drink more than one diet soda a day have an increased chance of developing blood-borne cancers. However, there was no link between artificial sweeteners and cancer in women.

Relationship between artificial sweeteners and weight gain

Diet soda drinkers are more likely to be overweight. In fact, the risk of being overweight rises 41 percent with each daily can of diet soda. (See: WebMD.com)

Why? Some research suggests artificial sweeteners increase appetite. Other research suggests artificial sweeteners affect cravings, energy levels and will power to say no to junk food. Cutting calories by using artificial sweeteners will only help you lose weight if you cut calories across the board.

Relationship between artificial sweeteners and fat storage

If you’ve been drinking diet sodas and substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners but aren’t losing weight or inches, it could be because artificial sweeteners may be tricking your body into storing excess fat. A recent study on mice found those who were given aspartame gained more weight than those who were fed sugar.

If you want to lose weight and burn fat, avoid substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners. Instead, make an effort to cut all forms of sugar and sweeteners from your diet.

Betty Murray, CN, HHC, RYT is a Certified Nutritionist & Holistic Health Counselor, founder of the Dallas-based integrative medical center, Wellness and founder of the Metabolic Blueprint wellness program. Betty’s nutrition counseling practice specializes in metabolic and digestive disorders and weight loss resistance. A master of the biochemistry of the body, Betty teaches her clients how to utilize nutritional interventions to improve their health. Betty is a member of the Institute of Functional Medicine and the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.

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