Artificial Sweeteners…This Might Make You Queasy

If you’re like me or one of the millions of people around the globe that use artificial sweeteners in order to avoid consuming excess calories (and perhaps shed a few pounds), the latest research might make you queasy.

Here’s the low-down that came out in September 2014:

The science journal, Nature, recently published a comprehensive study completed by a team of scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. They studied mice and humans, and were initially surprised by their results. So they repeated their studies multiple times.

Their studies showed each time that artificial sweeteners could very likely raise your blood sugar levels MORE than if you simply ate sugar-sweetened desserts and sodas.

They found that saccharin (a.k.a. Sweet‘N Low), sucralose (a.k.a. Splenda) and aspartame (a.k.a. NutraSweet and Equal) raised blood sugar levels by dramatically changing the makeup of the gut microorganisms, mainly bacteria, that are in the intestines and help with nutrition and the immune system.

Segal and Elinav, two scientists from the group, added saccharin, sucralose, or aspartame to the drinking water of mice and found that their blood sugar levels were higher than those of mice who drank sugar water — no matter whether the animals were on a normal diet or a high-fat diet.

When the sweetener-fed mice were given antibiotics to clear their gut of bacteria, their blood sugar levels dropped back down to normal.

The scientists also studied nearly 400 people and found the bacteria in the guts of those who ate and drank artificial sweeteners were different from those who did not. People who used artificial sweeteners also tended to have higher fasting blood sugar levels and impaired blood-sugar tolerance.

Finally, the researchers recruited seven volunteers, five men and two women, who normally didn’t eat or drink products with artificial sweeteners and followed them for a week, tracking their blood sugar levels. The volunteers were given the FDA’s maximum acceptable daily intake of saccharin from day two through day seven. By the end of the week, blood sugar levels had risen in four of the seven people.

What does this mean for you?

In laymen’s terms, this means that the diet stuff might be what’s causing your weight to increase…and your cravings for sweet stuff to get stronger.

If you notice that you’ve been using sweeteners or drinking diet soda but it doesn’t seem to be helping you lose weight or curb your urges to binge on sweet stuff, then you’re likely someone who’s blood sugar is affected by sweeteners—and not in the way you want it to be.

I obsessively used sweeteners for 14 years, refusing to believe any of the negative hype about them. No matter how much my family or friends suggested that the fake sugars were doing more harm than good, I was certain that they were helping me to maintain or lose weight.

They were the way I tried to make up for binge eating…if I used no-calorie sweeteners and drank diet soda to fast for a day after a binge, surely it would balance out.

After 3 years of gaining weight from this, I could no longer deny that this was not working. Even a year after breaking my habit with binging, I still would find myself pining for sweets every night before bed. It didn’t matter if I was full from dinner—I still wanted something sweet. And my weight wasn’t shifting though I was no longer binging.

The huge insight came while traveling in Italy. I decided to eat gelato and desserts while I was there, since I would return to “normal” after a few weeks. Eating sugar was something I’d avoided for so long, I expected I would go nuts and be unstoppable.

To my surprise, I discovered how satisfied I was after eating desserts…and normal portions of them. For all the years of avoiding eating sugar, I’d over-eaten sugar free foods. How ironic that eating sugar would help me achieve what I’d wanted all along: to feel satisfied and at peace with food.

Eating tons of sugar is not the key, but switching to sugar from sugar-free was the turning point. Our bodies know how to metabolize minimal amounts of sugar; it’s gobs of chemically-concocted pseudo-sugar that it doesn’t know what to do with.

Thanks to references from WebMD for this article, originally posted here: http://www.webmd.com/diet/news/20140917/artificial-sweeteners-blood-sugar?page=2

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