Listen up Diet Coke drinkers.
Artificial sweeteners have given artificial hope to those looking for weight loss.
For years, brands like Sweet ‘N Low and Splenda have claimed to be better for consumers than their real sugar crystal counterpart. It was said, the synthetic substitutes would give you the sweet-tasting foods and beverages you crave, without the extra calories, weight gain, or other negative health issues.
But over time, research has reveled that it’s not so simple.
While we’ve been questioning the validity of sugar substitutes for some time now, a new scientific review published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) on Monday, shows that not only is there no solid evidence supporting the weight-managing health claims of sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, but those who regularly consume these alternatives are more likely to develop health problems in the future.
For the 25 percent of children and 41 percent of adults who consume these sweeteners at least once per day in attempt to create a healthier lifestyle, this finding is significant.
“We were really interested in the everyday person who is consuming these products not to lose weight, but because they think it’s the healthier choice, for many years on end,” says Meghan Azad, lead author of the review and research scientist told NPR.
While more research needs to be done, from what we know now, “there is no clear benefit for weight loss, and there’s a potential association with increased weight gain, diabetes and other negative cardiovascular outcomes,” says Azad.
The reasons as to why artificial sweeteners may not promote the promised weight-loss still need further study.
One hypotheses says they may sharpen a sweet tooth, prompting the person to eat more sugary foods overall. Another recognizes that people may feel virtuous later in the day and splurge on other items they wouldn’t have otherwise. Sweeteners may also alter the microbiome in the gut and change the metabolism for the worse, says NPR.
Azar suggest the best alternative for sugar is to take steps to reduce your taste for sugar all together. Fruit-infused water and black coffee can reduce your overall intake of artificially sugary beverages, while plain yogurt with fruit can help reset your system to appreciate a natural level of sweetness already found in many foods.
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