Our brains evolved to like the taste of sugar, courtesy of our hunter-gatherer ancestors who were more likely to survive if they had sugar, a rare food at the time. Cut to the present age, and we have never-ending options to experience this heavenly taste that activates the pleasure centers in our brain and increases dopamine. While naturally occurring sugars in fruits, grains, and dairy products are relatively safe, highly processed sugars can put us at risk of obesity and, consequently, various diseases. (Also Read: WHO Says ‘No’ To Non-Sugar Sweeteners In Latest Guidelines; 4 Important Things To Know)
This is why people with diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, or those trying to lose weight, are turning to non-sugary sweets that are low in calories and appear to be beneficial for weight loss and disease prevention. From aerated drinks, biscuits, sweets to breakfast foods, we have products with artificial sweeteners. So instead of controlling our sweet cravings, we’re only feeding them foods with artificial sweeteners that we think are safe to eat. However, according to the latest WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines, NSS (Non-sugar sweeteners) do not provide long-term benefits in reducing body fat in adults or children and the use of such sugar substitutes has undesirable side effects. Adults have an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and mortality.
What do health experts say about the use of artificial sweeteners?
Health experts agree that the use of artificial sweeteners can increase the risk of various physical and mental health disorders in humans. Instead of helping you lose weight, they can contribute to weight gain because they interfere with the body’s ability to control calorie intake and can result in overeating and increased cravings. Non-sugar sweeteners can also affect neurotransmitter levels in the brain that can alter mood and behavior. It has been shown by studies that they reduce levels of serotonin in the brain, an important neurotransmitter involved in mood and anxiety control. Apart from that, excessive use of artificial sweeteners has been shown to damage the liver and weaken the health of the kidneys, leading to the risk of non-communicable diseases.
Artificial sweeteners can increase sugar cravings, leading to weight gain
“There are many products on the market that contain artificial sweeteners, such as soda, diet coke, desserts, breakfast cereals and mints. Artificial sweeteners, when consumed in small amounts, are relatively safe, but when consumed in large amounts. or regularly, they are very harmful to people’s health. 6. They cause sugar cravings which directly lead to weight gain and increased appetite for the same flavors. They lower the body’s metabolic capacity and make people feel sluggish and tired. Strong warning labels on drinks and foods about the effects of excessive artificial sugar intake on the body. Also, children easily get addicted to such artificial foods and develop strong cravings for them. Be careful to limit the intake of artificial sugar. If possible, remove it from your diet and switch to adequate amounts of natural sugar that will keep one’s health under control,” Bhavna Sharma said. , Dietitian, Manipal Hospital, Patiala, told HT Digital.
“Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia and erythritol are consumed by people in hopes of losing weight because they enable them to reduce calorie intake. However, it has been shown that regular use or consumption of these can lead to weight loss. Weight loss. In fact, it can cause type 2 diabetes. Can increase the risk of diabetes, heart disease (heart disease and stroke), and mortality in adults. The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated this fact. Despite the intention to improve people’s health, they cause harm. These sweets can also disturb the balance of gut microbiota. , which can lead to increased insulin resistance and its consequences. To lose weight, a proper diet plan is essential. This includes avoiding high-calorie drinks and snacks, regularly engaging in physical activity or exercise, considering drug options, Or, if necessary, surgery for weight loss,” explains Dr Sachin Kumar Jain, head of the Department of Endocrinology, Amrita Hospital, Faridabad.
Eat fruits, dates and carrots
“Artificial sweeteners can act as a double-edged sword. It is not advised if taken from aspartame (banned). But if taken from stevia (plant source) it is all safe. Since artificial sweeteners have minimal calories, they are useful in weight loss. But only after being taken under the supervision of a doctor. It is advised to use natural sweeteners from fruits, dates, carrots etc. instead of artificial sweeteners,” said Shweta Gupta, Head of Dietetics Unit, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh.
“The WHO has issued a position statement and advice on the use of non-sugar sweeteners and that it does not promote long-term weight loss. On the contrary, it increases the risk of many non-communicable disorders such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. NSS (Non-Sugar Sweeteners) has no nutritional value and there is a misconception among common people that consuming it for a period of time will help them lose weight. This statement comes after a review of many evidences. NSS use does not reduce the risk of obesity or have a long-term effect on weight, suggesting that instead it increases the risk of many serious problems. Perhaps avoiding sugar-free sweets can reduce your sugar cravings. The WHO says we should reduce our overall diet of sweets and possibly more sugar-free fruits. Instead of using sweets, try to eat naturally occurring sugars,” said Dr. Rajeev Kovil, Diabetologist, Chairman of Jandra Healthcare, Co-Founder of Rang De Neela Initiative, Secretary of United Diabetes Forum in a telephonic conversation with HT Digital.
“People are using non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) extensively to reduce their daily calorie intake and lose weight. Non-nutritive sweeteners have no nutritional value and their use does not provide long-term benefits in reducing body fat. The relative safety of NNS consumption remains a controversial issue. 6. There are some studies that show that long-term consumption can change the composition of the gut microbiota and thus cause health risks. We have some previous studies that show that artificial sweeteners do not provide any health benefits but also no harm. However, with a review of the available evidence in this area, The World Health Organization has warned that the long-term use of artificial sweeteners may cause health risks. Although the replacement of natural sugars by NNSs may be beneficial for glycemic control, consumers should be aware that the long-term use of these NNSs also poses health risks. Continued research in this area It will expose and clarify various doubts in the controversial field,” says Dr Piyush Lodha Diabetologist and General. Physician at Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.
Harmful effects of artificial sweeteners on body and mind
Nutritionist Sakshi Lalwani says artificial sweeteners can interfere with insulin levels and blood sugar control. He also shares with us other harmful effects of artificial sweeteners:
“Artificial sweeteners are designed to be sweeter than sugar, but without the calories. This can lead to overconsumption of sweet foods, which in turn can lead to weight gain and other negative health consequences. Furthermore, some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be linked to type 2 diabetes. at an increased risk of diabetes, as it can interfere with insulin levels and blood sugar control,” says Lalwani.
In addition to the potential negative effects on weight and blood sugar regulation, there are many other harmful effects suggested by studies and research, Lalwani says:
1. Risk of heart disease: Some studies have suggested that consumption of artificial sweeteners may be linked to an increased risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.
2. Digestive problems: Artificial sweeteners can interfere with the proper functioning of the digestive system, leading to problems like bloating, gas and diarrhea.
3. Increased risk of depression: Some studies have shown a link between consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of depression, which is thought to be due to effects on brain chemistry and serotonin levels.
“It is important to note that some studies have suggested these harmful effects, but not all studies agree and none of these potential concerns have been definitively proven,” Lalwani concludes.