Artificial sweeteners were designed to be sugar substitutes as a less fattening alternative. You can find these sugar substitutes in various food supplements including protein powders. These artificial sweetener additives mimic the flavor of sugar but with virtually no useful energy. Common artificial sweeteners are acesulfame potassium, aspartame and sucralose (sold as Splenda®). Despite FDA approval, these artificial sweeteners pose serious health risks to the consumer including the risk of brain tumors, mental retardation, birth defects, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, fibromyalgia, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.
Many people use artificial sweeteners to cut their caloric intake, but the very opposite effect can occur. New research shows that artificial sweeteners stimulate taste receptors that sense sweetness in both the esophagus and stomach. Anticipating energy, the pancreas releases insulin, an important hormone for accumulating body fat. At the same time, chemicals are sent to the brain’s satiety center, which becomes confused as to whether or not the body is actually receiving calories. The result? You feel even hungrier and less full, which can lead to weight gain.
This additive is sold under the names Equal® or NutraSweet®. It is one of the first generation of artificial sweeteners and is 180 times as sweet as sugar. Products containing aspartame are sold in over 100 countries and are consumed by over 250 million people worldwide. There are thousands of everyday products that contain aspartame including protein powders and other food supplements. Aspartame has been implicated in a number of diseases, and there is special concern among doctors and scientists regarding the role aspartame plays in migraine headaches, epilepsy and neuropsychiatric disorders. Despite indications that this “sweetener” is toxic, the FDA has made no move to regulate this toxic substance.
The two main ingredients of aspartame, phenylalanine and aspartic acid, stimulate the release of insulin and leptin — hormones which instruct your body to store fat. In addition, a large intake of phenylalanine can drive down your serotonin levels. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that tells you when you’re full. A low level of serotonin can bring on food cravings which can lead to weight gain. Research has shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate your appetite, increase carbohydrate cravings, and stimulate fat storage and weight gain.
This relatively new additive is marketed under the name Splenda®. Sucralose is basically denatured sucrose. Its preparation involves chlorinating sucrose, chemically changing the structure of the sugar molecules by substituting three chlorine atoms for three hydroxyl groups.
Yes, you did read “chlorinating” and adding “chlorine atoms.” But isn’t chlorine a known carcinogen, you ask? Yes, chlorine is a proven carcinogen. If that isn’t enough, there are reports of the following after consuming sucralose: gastrointestinal problems, seizures, dizziness and migraines, blurred vision, allergic reactions, blood sugar increases and weight gain. Splenda® has been found to be particularly damaging to intestines as well by reducing the amount of good bacteria in your intestines by 50 percent and increasing the pH level in your intestines. Continually destroying up to half of your gut flora by regularly consuming Splenda® is a guaranteed recipe for poor health.
Splenda® has become the nation’s number one selling artificial sweetener in a very short period of time most likely due to its marketing ploy of “made from sugar so it tastes like sugar.” In reality, sucralose is a synthetic chemical that was cooked up in a laboratory. The chemical process to make sucralose alters the chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is somehow converted to a fructo-galactose molecule. This type of sugar molecule does not occur in nature and therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly metabolize it. If you look at the research (which is primarily extrapolated from animal studies) you will see that in fact 15% of sucralose is absorbed into your digestive system and ultimately is stored in your body. Considering that Splenda® bears more chemical similarity to DDT than it does to sugar, do you really want that stored in your body?
If you’re consuming a food or beverage created in a lab instead of by nature, you can be assured your body doesn’t recognize it. This opens the door to short-term and long-lasting health problems for you and your family.
Stevia is an all-natural non-caloric sweetener derived from a plant. Stevia, an all-natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners, is gaining increasing popularity worldwide. Stevia rebaudiana, its botanical name, is derived from a plant in the chrysanthemum family grown primarily in South America and Asia. The plant’s intense sweetening qualities are complex molecules called steviosides that are glycosides made of glucose, sophorose and steviol. These are what make stevia up to 300 times sweeter than sugar and non-caloric. These glycosides do not get absorbed into the body; rather, they simply pass through leaving no calories.
In its pure form, it’s non-caloric and doesn’t affect glucose levels, an advantage for diabetics and hypoglycemics. Also, it has no carbohydrates or fat, so it’s great for dieters, especially those watching carb intake. Unlike artificial sweeteners, high quality stevia has little aftertaste when measured properly. It has no known side effects like some chemical sweeteners and has been safely consumed around the world for decades.
Bottom line is be very cautious of products marketed as “reduced calorie” or “sugar-free” as artificial sweeteners can actually sabotage your weight loss efforts. Most protein supplements on the market today still contain some form of harmful artificial sweetener. If you’re serious about your health and fitness goals, please steer clear of these dangerous substances.