Are artificial sweeteners safe for the body? Are they the right substitutes for sugar? Does regular consumption show any side effects? The following article answers all these questions.
Sugar is the most common sweetener used in a number of sweet dishes, chocolates, pastries, pies, brownies, and a lot more. Overconsumption of these enticing grubs is indeed not safe. Foods laden with sugar cause excessive weight gain, obesity, diabetes, dental decay, hypertension, heart diseases, etc. So sweet to taste, and yet so harmful to the body. These drawbacks led to the invention of artificial sweeteners. Are these sugar substitutes completely safe? You’ll get the answers in the text to follow.
What are Artificial Sweeteners?
These are either natural or chemical compounds, used as food additives. These high intensity sweeteners taste sweeter than sucrose, and are known to contain low calories. Thus, less amount is required, and energy content is also low. The six artificial sweeteners approved by FDA are, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, sucralose, neotame, and stevia. Sorbitol and xylitol also belong to the artificial category. The controversy still remains. Researchers have found out that excessive use of such sweeteners can cause potential threat to health, with side effects.
Side Effects of Artificial Sweeteners
Overconsumption of artificial sweeteners leads to considerable side effects in human beings.
- The dangers were first observed in rats. They showed susceptibility to bladder cancer, due to consumption of a mixture of cyclamate and saccharin. Cyclamate was banned by USFDA since then.
- Saccharin was the first artificial sweetener used, passed after subsequent animal testing. It caused urothelial cytotoxicity, and was associated with urinary bladder cancer. Containing sulfonamide, it can cause sulfa allergies. Skin diseases, nausea, headache, diarrhea, and symptoms associated with sulfa allergies, are among the other side effects.
- The most dangerous side effects are related with aspartame. There are numerous negative consequences related to its consumption. The symptoms include headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Change of mood, abdominal pain, change in vision, seizures, convulsions, and fatigue, were caused due to aspartame ingestion. Fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, cancer, and systemic lupus, were some of its serious side effects. Breast cancer, prostate cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and ovarian cancer were diagnosed in those having high amount of aspartame in diet. Being a low calorie sweetener, aspartame causes severe hunger and rapid weight loss.
- Sugar alcohols are low in carbohydrates, and have 25% less calories than sugar. The side effects are diarrhea, vomiting, gas, bloating, etc.
- Acesulfame-K contains methylene chloride, a potent carcinogen. Continued use of this product may result in depression, nausea, and kidney troubles.
- Sucralose is a chlorinated sugar that is mostly used in baked foods, desserts, chewing gums, beverages, etc. Approved by FDA as safe, it is stable when heated, and is absorbed by the body. If consumed in excess, it can lead to enlargement of kidney, liver, and shrinkage of the thymus gland.
- Stevia is not yet approved by FDA. It affects fertility, heart rate, and blood pressure.
If you are thinking of opting for artificial sweeteners, make sure you do not become dependent on them. People who are strongly advised not to consume sugar, must not make a habit of consuming artificial sugar regularly. It affects the body slowly, and the adversities are not observed overnight. It’s always suggested to fix a correct dose for consumption.
Disclaimer: This article is solely for informative purpose and not intended to replace the advice of an expert.