Do you have diet pop in your fridge? Sugar-free gum in your purse?
A new widely reported study suggests that you might want to toss them in the garbage.
The study by a Manitoba researcher published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal once again raises doubts about whether or not these sweeteners are safe to consume.
The report analyzed over 30 studies and trials conducted among the general population and obese patients who were trying to lose weight.
The study seemed to raise more questions than it answered so the debate continues regarding whether or not artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, Sorbitol and several others should be in everyday foods
The analysis did conclude, however, that obese people who consumed artificial sweeteners to manage their weight did not lose weight and in fact tended to gain weight. Now new studies have begun to understand why. One theory now being studied is that artificial sweeteners change gut flora in a way that predisposes us to obesity. Another is that zero calorie sweeteners aren’t satiating so people tend to eat more. There are other studies that raise questions about whether or not artificial sweeteners lead to insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome.
An article published late last year in Harvard Health, suggested that artificial sweeteners may make us crave more sweets and may be addictive. And while the article stated that studies resulting in FDA approval have not shown a link between artificial sweeteners and cancer, it did point out that those studies were done using much lower amounts of artificial sweeteners than many people consume today.
Artificial sweeteners are in much more than diet pop and chewing gum. Everything from yogurt and salad dressings to jams and fruit spreads, breakfast cereals, syrups, toothpaste and liquid medicine, is sweetened artificially so your daily consumption could pile up if you’re not a label reader.
Artificial sweeteners have also become an environmental pollutant.
The root of the environmental concern is that artificial sweeteners are making their way in to our water systems. From the Gulf of Mexico to the Grand River in Ontario (supplies drinking water for a population of half a million), measureable amounts of the sweeteners are turning up in water test samples.
Since our bodies can’t break down sweeteners such as sucralose for example, 90 percent of it is eliminated by our bodies and ends up in sewerage treatment plants, but sewerage treatment plants aren’t set up to break down sucralose either so it makes its way to our waterways.
Scientists have no idea what impact this might have on aquatic life in the marine systems affected. (In the Grand River study, scientists discovered that the equivalent of 80,000 to 180,000 cans of diet pop pass through the river every day on their way to Lake Erie.)
In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency considers sucralose a “contaminant of emerging concern,”
The bottom line is that artificial sweeteners have not been conclusively proven safe or unsafe. But each new study seems to raise new concerns. Avoiding artificial sweeteners is not easy. They go by many different names and are in a surprising array of products. But if medical conditions don’t prevent you from eating real sweeteners, steering clear of artificial sweeteners is worth the effort.