Health Science

Are Artificial Sweeteners Better For You Than Sugar?

Artificial sweeteners, like Equal, Splenda, Nutra, and Sweet and Low, have received a bad rap. It is better for you to add artificial sweeteners to your diet in moderation than it is to exceed the recommended daily allowance of sugar in your food intake. YOU, though, have to be the one to determine what you eat, and take responsibility for your own health.

Using sugar in moderation seems not to be much of an issue. Unfortunately sugar is present in many, many things we eat, often without us even being aware of it, and it is easily created by our body from carbohydrate laden foods we eat. We seem to be a population of excesses, often eating carbohydrate rich foods, such as bread, rice, potatoes, pasta, Artificial Sweetenersand other grain products and drinking soft drinks in quantities as we might drink water. Beverages sweetened with sugar such as sodas or energy drinks are a huge source of sugar in the American diet. The majority of us receive roughly 10% of our calorie intake from sugars – an acceptable level. About 10% of the population receives as much as 25% of their calorie intake from sugar – NOT acceptable – contributing to their obesity and all of the resulting health issues.

In spite of a substantial negative publicity campaign and on-going misinformation and a lot of public myth, the National Cancer Institute states that there is no sound scientific evidence that ANY artificial sweeteners approved for use in the United States cause cancer or any other serious health issues. The 1970’s era health warning that used to be printed on saccharin has been removed from packaging because of these newer findings.

Public misconception and irrational behavior is often triggered by sensationalist over reporting of studies on national television and the net which may prove to be untrue, such as the example quote below which comes from the American Cancer Society website:

“A recent study of more than 125,000 people found a link between consumption of aspartame sweetened soda and the risk of leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma in men, but not in women. Since it also found a link between sugar sweetened soda and lymphoma in men, the researchers concluded that the links they found could be explained by chance” (emphasis added). The last sentence means that there IS NO LINK. The conclusions were unsupported. If there is such a link, this study did not find one.

This report to me is alarming because it begins by asserting a false statement of fact – it isn’t fact at all, but that point isn’t acknowledged until the final sentence and will be lost on many readers. They will remember the first sentence.

One might just as well state that there is a link between people who catch colds and those who ride bicycles. They might; they might not; they likely have nothing to do with each other and happen because of other factors.

I am not an artificial sweetener aficionado, though I do drink diet drinks from time to time. But let’s call it straight! If we know something, let’s tell it like it is; if we don’t, let’s not make up something to create drama.

There are a lot of artificial sweeteners available: Equal – Splenda – Sweet’N Low – NutraSweet just to name some of the popular ones and some work better than others. Further confusion comes from the use of the term “natural”. Stevia is an example. It is made from a leaf and it uses the term natural even though it is still processed.

To try to keep us safe, the FDA has established an Acceptable Daily Intake of artificial sweeteners. ADI’s are designed to be about 1% of levels that may cause health concerns according to their web site. Here are some of the ADI’s for the more popular artificial sweeteners.

Equal or NutraSweet: 75 packets

Sweet’N Low: 45 packets

Splenda: 23 packets

The equivalent daily intake would be equal to about 20 cans of Diet Coke.

Artificial sweeteners may be created from naturally occurring herbs or from actual sugar. They are usually much more intensely sweet than real sugar. An advantage of artificial sweeteners is that they have no or almost no calories, and because of the intensity of their sweetness, it requires substantially less product than in the use of real sugar. The operative word is moderation.

Sugar comes in many forms – sucrose – fructose – glucose – lactose. They are all sugar, though they may involve different body pathways for use. Our bodies need sugar (glucose) to function. Once ingested all carbohydrates are converted into glucose for use. The issue in our food supply comes from the added sugar in products. If we are not vigilant and if we don’t look to see what is in the things we eat, we risk eating a lot of added sugar. The suggested cap on added sugar is put at 10% of our daily intake of food. The operative word here is also moderation.

So what do you think about artificial sweeteners? Do you believe they are better for you than sugar?

Leave a Reply