Have you been eating sugar for a long time, but have recently decided to go on a diet that restricts it? Switching to artificial sweeteners does help, but are they all bad for you? Well, some are and some aren’t, depending on how much you can believe of what companies and our own government tell us.
The best thing to do is to use natural sweeteners like raw honey or pure maple syrup, but if you’re on a low carb diet, you really may not have a choice. Honey, for instance, is very high in carbs, so in order to make things sweet-ish, you’ll have to rely on sweeteners. Below we will go through the worst sweeteners first, and then the best (until further research tells us otherwise).
Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, generic pink packets)
Saccharin used to contain a label that warned people of its consumption possibly causing cancer, but that label was taken off by the FDA. I personally don’t trust any government organizations with your food, as most of them are corrupt, paid off by companies. This sweetener is made from coal tar, accidentally discovered by a chemist who worked with coal tar.
It’s made with anthranilic acid (used to corrode metal), ammonia, chlorine, nitrous acid, and sulfur dioxide. As early as 1907, it was deemed dangerous for people’s health by a director in the USDA. Five years later, the public was told it was safe, but by 1972, the FDA tried to have it banned without success. It was known to cause cancer in lab rats, but saccharin stayed on the shelves with a warning label, instead of fully protecting the public from it.
Aside from those studies on rats, saccharin has been linked to breathing problems, rashes, diarrhea, headaches and allergies. Nevertheless, people still consume it and now that there’s no warning label, they may never know of the dangers if they don’t read about it. It can be in our foods already as well, so always look at ingredients, especially with baby foods.
Aspartame (Equal, generic blue packets)
Found in most diet sodas and sugar free foods, Aspartame is made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine, which are both amino acids. It is broken down by the body, unlike saccharin, and can be withheld in different areas throughout the body, causing side effects immediately or more slowly over time. However, it’s still a debate as to whether it’s truly bad for you, even though many people are complaining about their symptoms after ingesting aspartame.
There have been reactions of side effects including the eyes, ears, nerves, dizziness, headaches, depression, heart palpitations, and many more, including very serious ailments and life threatening diseases. This is definitely one to stay away from, and it’s in many more products than you might realize.
Splenda (Sucralose, yellow packets)
Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar, so many people use it when they are reducing their sugar consumption, thinking that it’s a great alternative. It does have one good thing going for it, and that is the fact that it’s not fully absorbed by the body. So maybe there’s a chance all those harmful chemicals will not affect us as much. However…
Many people think Splenda is like sugar, because that’s what they’ve been told, but that’s not true. It was accidentally discovered in the middle of a new insecticide experiment. Although it’s true that Splenda was originally sugar, so many chemicals were added that it ended up being very different from sugar. The addition of chlorine is what is most concerning, as it is a known carcinogen, but not enough studies have been conducted on what it’s actually doing to our bodies.
Side effects of consuming Splenda include skin irritation, breathing conditions like wheezing and coughing, heart palpitations, bloating and much more. One of the ingredients in Splenda is maltodextrin, which is in many foods and causes a spike in insulin. It is a carbohydrate that adds bulk to the packets, and not only is it not good for you, but it’s completely unnecessary. The other ingredient, dextrose, is not much better.
This sweetener has been around since the late 80’s, yet many people have never heard of it or knew it was being used in their food and drinks. It is 200 times sweeter than sugar and is also known as acesulfame potassium or Ace-K. It’s made with methylene chloride, a chemical used as a paint remover (yeah, think about THAT!) that can cause airway irritation and skin problems.
It also has been known to cause cancer, nausea, headaches, liver and kidney problems, and much more. The frightening thing is that the FDA is not requiring that this chemical be tested for its effects on humans when they consume it. Stay away from this one at all costs, if you possibly can. Do your due diligence and read ingredients on food and drinks so you can avoid products containing these chemicals, and your body will thank you for it.
This sweetener was approved in 2002 by the FDA, supposedly to become the new aspartame, only without the phenylalanine (the chemical in aspartame that causes a problem for people). It is up to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar and the FDA has said it’s safe, but can we really trust them at this point? They said others were safe as well, but none of these are safe.
Many companies claim to have done testing on their products, but they are allowed to get away with so much because of laws that make it easier for them to sneak by. The findings they came up with are not available to the public, which is a concern in itself. No one knows what long-term effects this will have on our bodies. It isn’t even a requirement to be listed in the ingredients of foods/drinks, which is pretty scary, and only proves that the FDA does not have our health in mind.
These five sweeteners are a big no-no, and you would be wise to avoid them if you can. If you must use a sweetener, then you might as well just use a little bit of natural sugar, raw honey, or real maple syrup. However, all hope is not lost when it comes to sweeteners, and we will examine those in our next article.