If you use artificial sweeteners to avoid gaining weight, you’re not only wasting your time but also possibly causing future health problems, according to a new study.
The study found that not only do aspartame and sucralose not prevent weight gain, they also raise the risk of disease in people who use them regularly.
Some research even shows long term use of artificial sweeteners leads to weight gain.
Recent research shows about a quarter of children and more than 40 percent of adults in the United States consume artificial sweeteners daily.
Some people eat them purposefully in the mistaken belief that is better for their health. Many others, however, are unwittingly consuming them in everyday food products.
Artificial sweeteners hiding in many foods
Artificial sweeteners are hiding in many foods unbeknownst to most people. These products are not always clearly labeled and some are even labeled with misleading claims such as “natural ingredients.”
While we expect to find artificial sweeteners in foods labeled “light,” “reduced sugars,” “diet,” and “sugar-free,” they also show up in “smart” popcorn, granola bars, yogurt, and even a popular pediatric electrolyte drink.
Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity; disease
Studies also suggest long term use of artificial sweeteners leads to weight gain and chronic diseases such as diabetes, and heart disease.
Participants in a randomized trial who used artificial sweeteners as part of their weight loss program were shown to have a slight increase in their body mass index, a 14 percent higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes, and a 32 percent higher chance of developing heart disease.
Lobbyists for the artificial sweetener industry and researchers agree other variables need to be considered and more research needs to be done.
Why artificial sweeteners cause weight gain
One reason it’s believed these fake sweeteners lead to weight gain and obesity-related health risks is because they trigger sugar cravings that a person eventually gives into.
Another theory suggests that consuming foods with artificial sweeteners leads a person to feel “virtuous” and thus justified in overindulging later.
Animal studies show artificial sweeteners trick the brain into thinking you’ve eaten sugar, which can trigger inflammatory cascades and disease.
Artificial sweeteners also alter the gut microbiome in a way that promotes obesity and diabetes.
Functional medicine approach to sweeteners
In functional medicine, we see time and time again that people naturally lose their cravings for sugar and starchy carbs when they eat a whole foods diet that stabilizes blood sugar, lowers inflammation, and promotes brain health. You won’t feel drawn to regular use of artificial sweeteners when you have no cravings for sweets in the first place. Ask my office how we can help.