Is Your Artificial Sweetener Killing You?

Is Your Artificial Sweetener Killing You?

Is sugar really bad for you? You might have heard that it is. But like many things in life, the truth isn’t nearly as clear-cut as a simple “yes” or “no.”

Sugar, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. We need sugar for our bodies to function properly. Sugar is the powerhouse of energy that keeps every cell in the body going.

But the type of sugar you eat matters. For instance, natural sugars – such as those found in raw fruits – are what our body is designed to break down into the necessary nutrients for energy.

Refined sugars are a different story. These are the added sugars, such as white table sugar that we add to that tall glass of sweet iced tea. Too much refined sugar can lead to serious health problems.

As a supposed remedy to this issue, artificial sweeteners were created. Though some of these are derived from natural sources, such as plants, others are created in a laboratory and designed to be even sweeter than refined sugars but with zero calories. It’s the perfect solution to the sugar problem, right?

Well… not so fast.

These artificial sweeteners have been subjected to ongoing research for decades. Are they really safe? How much is too much? Do they really help you lose weight or do they backfire and make you gain weight? Do they alter your taste buds in a way that natural foods no longer have the delicious flavor you remember?

The latest research into sucralose, also known as Splenda, has raised some alarm bells.

Can Splenda Damage Your DNA?

For decades, people across the world have reached for Splenda to sweeten everything from their morning coffee to an evening dessert. But new research published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health suggests that over time, using sucralose can actually damage your DNA.1

Researchers from North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill collaborated on a study on sucralose – specifically, on a particular chemical in the sweetener, called sucralose-6-acetate. They exposed human blood cells to the chemical and observed what happened.

The chemical damaged the DNA of the cells. That makes the chemical “genotoxic,” meaning that it harms genetic information.

The research also found that the chemical damaged the lining of the gut. This issue could lead to “leaky gut syndrome,” which makes your gut lining more permeable and paves the way for infection and other troubles. As the Cleveland Clinic explains, “If your intestinal barrier is impaired, it may be letting toxins into your bloodstream. These toxins may trigger an inflammatory response that may manifest as various diseases.”

During the study, the genetic activity in the cells changed and increased. The particular gene activity the researchers observed has been closely linked to inflammation, oxidative stress, and the development of cancer. This suggests that sucralose could play a factor in an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, and other conditions that result from genetic material going awry in the cells.

While it is important to remember that this was a small in vitro test – meaning that it was conducted in test tubes in a very controlled environment – and that the particular chemical in sucralose accounts for only a small amount of the sweetener, these findings do support a growing body of evidence that artificial sweeteners might be doing harmful things to the body over time.

While you might not feel the effects of things like artificial sweeteners as they build up over time, your body is slowly changing every day – and that means that as you become older, you could face sudden and unexpected problems. For instance, heart attack and stroke can happen in the blink of an eye with no warning. An emergency button alert for elderly can provide you with the peace of mind that if a medical emergency does happen, all you have to do is press the button alarm and help will be on the way fast.

Other Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

Countless studies over the last several decades have focused on potential problems with sweeteners. Though many of these studies have found the same issues as this latest research, including an increased risk of cancer and other physical ailments, determining just how “bad” these sweeteners are for you has been difficult with a lack of large-scale human trials.

However, there are some health issues that many agree on, both from a scientific perspective and anecdotal evidence. Artificial sweeteners can lead to:2

·        Headaches, from mild to severe and debilitating

·        Diarrhea and other gastrointestinal upset, such as bloating and gas

·        A higher risk of depression

·        Other potential problems, such as a more intense craving for sugary foods or a propensity for weight gain

Some small studies have associated artificial sweeteners with the risk of stroke, heart attack, high blood pressure, and even seizures. Though there isn’t enough evidence to scientifically support a direct link between these health problems and the sweeteners, there is growing concern that they are doing things to our bodies that are serious and harmful.

It’s a good idea to be proactive about your health. Having a button alert at your fingertips prepares you for the possibility of any medical emergency, such as a hard fall or an accident in the kitchen.  

One of the other problems with artificial sweeteners is the way they change your taste buds. Artificial sweeteners are actually much sweeter than refined sugars, so as you consume more of the artificial flavor, the less satisfying refined sugars might taste.

For instance, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than regular sugar. Other popular sweeteners, including aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame K, are between 160 and 700 times sweeter. And neotame, which was approved by the FDA in 2002, is between 7,000 and 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar.3

Once your taste buds get accustomed to that kind of over-the-top sweetness, is it any wonder that you might not want to go back to a more natural alternative?

How Much Real Sugar is Acceptable?

If you choose to go with refined sugars instead of artificial ones, keep in mind that you should keep close tabs on how much you consume.

The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends adding no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar per day to your diet, or no more than 10% of your daily calories.4 The American Heart Association, however, recommends an even lower amount of no more than six teaspoons per day for women and no more than nine teaspoons each day for men.5

And it’s surprisingly easy to sail right past that recommended amount. To put it in perspective, one can of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar, a glass of lemonade has about five teaspoons, and even ketchup can easily have almost 6 teaspoons of sugar per serving.6

How to Navigate the World of Sweeteners

If you suffer from any sort of bothersome side effects from artificial sweeteners, it’s a good idea to try to avoid them as much as possible. But you should also take care not to have too much refined sugar, as table sugar has been linked to other health problems, such as metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, and dental problems.

Ask your doctor if a good solution may be to look for the most natural sugar substitutes possible. Right now, stevia and monk fruit are the two most “natural” artificial sweeteners on the market, as they are not created from chemicals cobbled together in laboratories. They come from natural sources – stevia is a plant, and monk fruit is a small gourd.

When you do choose to go with natural sugar, do so in moderation. It’s also a good idea to use the least refined options, as these are better metabolized by the body and might not lead to the blood sugar spike that comes from refined sugars. Good options might include agave syrup, molasses, maple syrup, or honey.

No matter your decisions concerning sugar and sweeteners, you can never go wrong with staying safe along the way. If health and safety are important to you, consider having a medical alarm as your helpful companion. Medical alert technology at your fingertips can provide peace of mind for you and those who love you.