Why We Shouldn’t Turn to Artificial Sweeteners
The growing awareness of sugar’s negative impacts is good. What’s not good is that we’re turning to artificially sweetened options, which may be more harmful in the long term.
The answer to cutting down on sugar isn’t to instead find it artificially. We must start retraining our palettes, instead of shifting our addiction to sweet but sinister alternatives.
Many governments around the world are either introducing a tax on sugar or, at least, seriously considering it. This stand makes a very big point of how detrimental sugar can be to our health.
However, just because something is ‘sugar-free’ doesn’t mean it’s healthy. It’s alarming how many products sell themselves as healthy alternatives, when really they’re just swapping out sugar in exchange for something more artificial but just as bad, if not worse, for your health.
Synthetic sweeteners do deliver a sweet hit minus the calories, and the assumption has been that excess calories make you fat, irrespective of source. Artificial sweeteners are particularly worrying because they’re sweeter than sugar by 200 to an unimaginable 37,000 times – so how can they be a better alternative to sugar?
Studies link artificial sweetener to a variety of negative health outcomes but the European Food Safety Authority has ruled that all those for sale in the European Union, despite them being potentially toxic in larger quantities, are ‘safe for human consumption at current levels of exposure’. This doesn’t sound good.
Many studies highlight negative health effects. One Boston University study concluded that artificially sweetened drinks significantly raised the risk of stroke and dementia. No such association was found with sugar. But even more incredible is the body of evidence now showing that synthetic sweeteners don’t actually help to control weight. One study using rats found that those rats who ate artificial sweeteners gained weight faster than those eating sugar.
If sugar warps our palates, then hyper-sweet synthetic substitutes certainly can’t do anything much better. With that in mind, along with the numerous health risks linked with artificial sweeteners, we must re-educate our tastebuds to expect lower levels of sweetness, not replace them with more intense new ones.