Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain

Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain by disturbing the usual neuro-hormonal mechanisms; worse, they raise the risk of metabolic syndrome by 44%.

41% of Americans consume non-sugar sweeteners[6].

Initially there was universally a sigh of relief. We did not have to pull the sweet tooth after all; we could have our cake and eat it, so to speak. Steadily the pile of evidence of the detrimental effect of sugar grew, adding to what we already knew; it's toxic stuff. But there is luckily a healthy alternative; or is it?

With the advent of artificial sweeteners we thought we could continue to enjoy our cakes, cookies and soft drinks. Alas, this has categorically been shown not to be so. They cause weight gain and increase the risk of diabetes by around 20 percent just like sugar does.

There simply is no alternative. If we want to live long in the land we do have to pull the sweet tooth. The ghastly alternative is constant dieting, medication and frequent consultations with doctors. We should neither have our cake, nor eat it regularly with any sort of NSS. Keep treats, puddings and soft drinks for high and holy days.

High Fructose corn syrup

There is a strong correlation between the increased use of High Fructose Corn Syrup and the prevalence of obesity. To date there is no definitive evidence of causation.

In particular HFCS use in Sugary Sweetened Beverages since 1970 (it is cheaper to produce) has paralled the rise in metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity in children and young adults in particular.

Whole foods contain large amounts of fibre which sends satiety signals to the hunger centre in the hypothalamus. SSBs contain copious energy in liquid form, bypassing this normal physiology which causes us to reduce consumption of other foods to compensate for all the calories.

This has still to be conclusively proved; but the writing is on the wall for HFCS.

Of great concern is that it is estimated that around 50% of commercial honey is now adulterated with HFCS.

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome[1] is a cluster of symptoms that increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

  • High blood pressure
  • Raised blood glucose
  • Body fat especially around the waist
  • Abnormal blood fats

It's long been known that copious amounts of dietary sugar contribute to metabolic syndrome, pain and suffering. Alas, artificial sweeteners do exactly the same though the mechanisms are different. They interfere with our neuro-hormonal processes; they still cause increased food cravings. We are left constantly hungry; they do not give the satiety that the good fats, protein and fibre in whole foods provide.

Now the average person enjoying typical grocery store food is having around 80 grams of sugar each and every day; plus 41% of Americans are using artificial sweeteners. Even worse is the large amount of glucose that refined flour contributes to our carbs.


"Americans are having dessert several times a day and don't know it."

- Dr. Alan Greene, pediatrician.


Research

Researchers contributing to Current Opinion in Cardiology describe artificial sweeteners as one of the "ultra-processed foods." They investigated the impact these chemicals are having on vascular disease[2].

They found that artificial sweeteners do not encourage weight loss. Quite the contrary there is evidence showing added pounds from the negative effect they have on satiety.

In addition they increase the risk of type-2 diabetes by around 20%.

Why does this happen?

Dr Gómez-Delgado, internal medicine specialist says their research found there were three reasons why artificial sweeteners cause an increase in weight and a raised spectre of metabolic syndrome.

  1. Satiety, the feeling of fullness is delayed.
  2. They induce excessive insulin secretion by the pancreas, increasing blood pressure.
  3. They impact negatively on the friendly bugs in the intestine that have so many important functions.

Dr. Pérez-Martínez, MD, PhD says they are now considering whether artificial sweeteners should be considered as a new cardiovascular risk factor; along with smoking, obesity and hypertension.

They are now looking at legislation to regulate the consumption of artificial sweeteners; currently they are not labelled with clear and simple information about how they impact on our wellness.

They stress the importance of natural whole foods and more exercise; they do not cause weight gain.

In short there is currently simply no alternative to pulling the sweet tooth. Whether it's sugar or a NSS they increase the likelihood of blood pressure and diabetes medication.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar per day; 30 grams. These Spanish medical specialists would add to that zero consumption of artificial sweeteners.



"Nations grow lazy. They love the bondage of grocery store food, choosing ease over the strenuous liberty of locating or growing whole, natural fruits and vegetables; and grains."

- with apologies to John Milton.



Is honey an alternative?

Honey runny vs crytallisedNatural unprocessed honeys have a low GI

There is nothing simple about nutrition. Our bodies view all foods differently depending on how they have been processed.

  • The sugars in an apple have a completely different effect to that in the juice or high-fructose corn syrup.
  • Chewing on a stick of sugar cane is actually beneficial to the teeth.
  • 100% whole grains like corn on the cob are quite different to highly-refined grits.

And the same applies to honey. Researchers in Germany after testing the products from 8 different nectars[3] concluded that once processed by commercial bottlers they have an extremely high glycemic index; worse than sugar.

However honey from small beekeepers that is neither heated in any way, nor filtered of the pollen actually, with one exception has a low GI; in fact it helps to reduce the fasting blood glucose of diabetics[4].

Combined effect of sweeteners

It has long been established that negative factors are additive and cumulative. The smoker who is also obese has a very poor outlook when it comes to the chronic degenerative diseases like diabetes and stroke.

In addition the many ultra-processed foods found in the grocery store today are loaded with sweeteners of one sort or another, refined flour and various unhealthy fats. Hot cross buns enjoyed once a year at Easter are probably fine; eaten regularly they are a disaster.

The linoleic acid in soybean and sunflower oil is highly inflammatory. Added to pastries along with artificial sweeteners one has a certain cause of weight gain. The scientists are still arguing about saturated fats but they too should only be enjoyed in moderation.

There is general agreement about the trans-fats in margarine; avoid them along with artificial sweeteners that cause inflammation and weight gain.

Stone-ground-cheesy-gritsStone ground cheesy grits

Erythritol is a sugar substitute linked to heart disease

Erythritol is a "natural" sugar substitute; so it does not need to be labelled as an "artificial" sweetener. The problem is that above certain concentrations it causes clumping of the red blood cells. It doesn't raise serum glucose or increase insulin resistance; but it does significantly affect the tendency to form clots.

Those with higher levels of erythritol have a 80% greater chance of having a major adverse cardiovascular event[5]. According to the researchers it "fosters enhanced thrombosis."

Our standpoint is straightforward; pull the sweet tooth. It takes only two weeks to break the habit with tea and coffee. Having done that, face the chocolate cake; high and holy days only.

Vegans

Vegans are between a rock and hard place if they have a sweet tooth. Neither able to use erythritol nor honey they may be tempted to go back to sugar.

Other pathogens

Stool samples contain higher relative abundance of Klebsiella, Escherichia-Shigella and Salmonella bacteria in those using non-sugar sweeteners; they are pathogens associated with pneumonia and diarrhoea[6].

Cancer

The World Health Organisation now states categorically that non-sugar sweeteners increase the risk of bladder cancer; and specifically aspartame of causing malignant liver tumours[6].

Inflammation

Inflammation in the first instance plays an important role in our immune response to pathogens; part of the "host defense mechanism." This is a very complex subject, not to be discussed here. Simply put these non-sugar sweeteners interfere in this process in the small intestine but in different ways.

Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain

Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain due to loss of satiety. They interfere with the production of a peptide in the small intestine that regulates that sense of fullness whilst still enjoying an uncompleted too-large meal.

Commonly asked questions

Do artificial sweeteners make you gain weight?

The research is now unequivocal; artificial sweeteners make you gain weight. They do this by interfering with the microbiome, that massive body of friendly bugs that inhabits the intestines.

Which sweetener does not cause weight gain?

Stevia apparently does not cause weight gain. Nevertheless WebMD reports that there is no convincing evidence that it helps prevent obesity; and it may cause bloating, nausea and dizziness.


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  • Pull the sweet tooth
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