Is Artificial Sweetener Bad For You?

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Let’s face it, America is hooked on sugar, and with the rise of diabetes, and other diseases, we have found a new way to consume sweets without the empty calories sugar contains. Nowadays, artificial sweeteners are so abundant, found in everything from diet soda and energy drinks to processed foods like candy, yogurt, and bread, and even hygiene products like toothpaste and mouthwash. The use of artificial sweeteners has reduced the sugar consumption in American diets, but how good of a replacement are they when it comes to our overall health?

Currently, there are six FDA-approved artificial sweeteners on the market: Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K), Sucralose, Neotame, and Advantame. Originally intended for diabetics, artificial sweeteners experienced a sharp increase in popularity as obesity rates began to soar in the US. They quickly became an attractive sugar-free, calorie-free option that was perfect for those looking to be healthy while eating sweetened foods. 

However, in recent years, artificial sweeteners have come under fire after some studies suggest they cause cancer, diabetes, or even cause weight gain. Due to this, many consumers have developed concern over the potential health risks they pose.

A commonly repeated warning is that artificial sweeteners can cause cancer. This warning stems from a 1970’s study that linked artificial sweeteners to an increased risk of bladder cancer in mice when consumed in extremely high amounts. Thankfully, humans metabolize sweeteners differently than humans, and since then, more than 30 human studies have failed to find a link between artificial sugars and the risk of developing cancer. 

Another common proposed risk is that artificial sweeteners can result in a greater risk of developing diabetes. Some studies have suggested that drinking diet sodas containing artificial sweeteners can exacerbate diabetes, but much of the data seems to be contradictory, without any solid link found between the two. 

One potential health risk of consuming artificial sweeteners is its effect on gut health. The bacteria in your gut play a vital role in your overall health, and its composition and function are determined by what you eat. Certain artificial sweeteners have been shown to affect gut bacteria, pushing it out of balance. This can result in weight gain, poor blood sugar control, metabolic syndrome, and a weakened immune system. 

Overall, artificial sweeteners are generally considered to be safe for human consumption in reasonable quantities. Much of the information out there has perpetuated a handful of misinformed claims that have led many to believe they are inherently dangerous. On the contrary, they make for a viable and safe substitute for sugar, which carries with it many risks of its own. So next time you decide to indulge in a diet soda, you can sip easy knowing you’re not inadvertently destroying your body. 

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