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What are the types of artificial sweeteners? Are they completely safe?

by Shatakshi Gupta

Here you’ll read about the types of artificial sweeteners and the health risks associated with overconsumption of them.

We all know, sugar is now held responsible for a number of our diseases, including as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

The desire to satiate our sweet tastebuds without having negative health effects has accelerated with the increased awareness of the negative effects of sugar, especially for individuals with diabetes. In the false notion that they are safer, people frequently use brown sugar, honey, and jaggery in place of sugar even though they have the same number of calories. Similar to how many people believe fruit juice is a good alternative to colas, their calorie counts are actually very similar.

As a result, natural sources don’t provide us many wholesome options to sate our cravings for sweets. Without a doubt, since many of artificial sweetners have almost no calories, sugar replacements aid in lowering calorie intake. Therefore, sugar replacements are a very appealing idea in theory. Today, in this article, we will understand deeply about artificial sweeteners.

What are various kinds of sugar replacements?

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Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols are the two most popular varieties of sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners, which come in the forms of saccharin, cyclamate, aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame, and neotame, are synthetic alternatives. Stevia is classified as a different type of sweetener and is referred to as natural, since it comes from plant sources.

The other category of sugar substitutes consists of plant-derived sugar alcohols including erythritol, mannitol, and sorbitol. They impart some texture to the meal in addition to sweetness. In comparison to sugar, sugar alcohols range from 25% to 100% sweeter. Bloating, loose stools, and diarrhoea can result from consuming large amounts of sugar alcohols. Tolerance to these effects typically develops over time.

Many processed items, such as soft beverages, jams, and dairy goods, contain artificial sweeteners. Sucralose is one among those that can be used in baking and cooking. It’s critical to confirm the type of sweetener that a product includes.

A product’s “sugar free” label can be deceptive since we often consume too much of it because we believe it to be completely safe, not realising that it could also be high in fat or contain sugar alcohols. About 60% of the calories in a normal bar of sugar-free chocolate are from fat.

Risks of consuming more artificial sweeteners:

Despite their widespread commercial use, artificial sweeteners have long been the subject of debate. The health effects of excessive sugar consumption (including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease) may not be reversed, but oral health may improve when dietary sugar is replaced with artificially sweetened goods. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes in certain studies, but not in others. The consumption of beverages containing artificial sweeteners was shown to be modestly associated with high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol levels, according to the WHO 2022 assessment on the health consequences of artificial sweeteners.

By using artificial sweeteners, we might become complacent and eat other high-calorie foods more frequently. People frequently devour their brownies and pizzas while being really careful to only purchase diet colas. According to some theories, these extremely sweet compounds could modify how our brains process sensory information, rendering less sweet foods like fruits unpleasant to our senses. According to some research, using these products might increase our need for sweets.

Without much proof, aspartame and saccharine have been linked to brain tumours and rat cancer, respectively. Additionally, it has been hypothesised that using artificial sweeteners may change the flora in our stomach, raising our risk of weight gain and diabetes. Drinking alcohol while also consuming artificially sweetened beverages raises blood alcohol levels and increases the likelihood of becoming drunk.

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The consumption of artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, acesulfame, and sucralose, has been linked to a possible increased risk of cardiac disease, stroke, and cancer, according to a population-based study from France published in September of this year. The study involved more than 100,000 participants and was followed up for more than 10 years. Although it can’t be taken as absolute because it was only an association research, it does highlight the need for prudence when utilising the goods.

Children shouldn’t use sweeteners for extended periods of time because the hazards could be higher. Adults who regularly consume sweetened beverages can progressively decrease their intake by switching to water in place of the artificially sweetened beverages. Use of artificial sweeteners can only be beneficial if total calorie intake is decreased. They should also be absolutely avoided by people who have had bariatric surgeries and gastrointestinal issues.

In a nutshell:

What then should those of us wanting to control our diabetes or reduce weight do? Try to totally cut out sugar. It is safe to use sweets in moderation if your sweet tooth is persistent. It is acceptable to occasionally enjoy a low-fat dessert with a sweetener added to your morning tea or evening coffee.

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