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artificial sweeteners

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Artificial Sweeteners Not So Sweet

Sucralose may cause inflammation and fat formation.

Sucralose is a popular non-caloric artificial sweetener thought to be safe. In a small, early study, researchers have shown its use may predispose people to metabolic syndrome. Dr. S. Sen, a senior study author, said, "The only part that's not there is the calories--it's not adding the calories, but it's doing everything else that glucose does." A larger study is now underway to assess other types of artificial sweeteners.

PositiveTip: Choose to enjoy less intensely sweet foods by lowering your intake of sweetened and artificially-sweetened foods.

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Sugar Substitues: May Not be Sweet for Your Health

Non-caloric sweeteners may interfere with normal glucose absorption.

A small study (published as an abstract) of healthy individuals received the equivalent non-caloric sweetener contained in 1.5 liters of "diet" soda for 14 days along with a with a control group receiving a placebo. The results suggest that glucose absorption is negatively affected in healthy people by artificial sweeteners. This early research may help explain why a population shift in the consumption of artificial sweeteners has not lowered type 2 diabetes risk.

PositiveTip: Limit both sugar-sweetened beverages and the "diet" drinks-- choose water instead!

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Artificial Sweeteners and Health Risks

An urgent need for definitive data on the health impact of artificial sweeteners exists.

A meta-analysis of 37 studies examining the impact of artificial sweeteners found they are not associated with reduced body mass index (BMI). More than 400,000 people over 12 years of age were studied. The long-term studies saw a modest increase in BMI, especially with increased artificial sweetener use. Higher risks for secondary outcomes were also observed for metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes with increased intake.

PositiveTip: Train your taste buds to enjoy less intensely sweet foods for the best outcomes.

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Use of Fake Sugar Growing

Use of artificial sweeteners skyrocketing in the U.S.

A cross-sectional study using U.S. NHANES data from 2009-2012 found kids consumption of artificial sweeteners--aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and others--has skyrocketed. In 1999 less than 9% of children consumed low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs). By 2012 that number had grown to 25%, an almost 200% increase. These LCSs are increasing in use among adults as well. Evidence is accumulating that these sweeteners may pose some health risks, but more research is needed.

PositiveTip: Drink water instead of soda, and use a little fresh fruit to sweeten your yogurt.

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Is Diabetes Related to Artificial Sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners in mice changed the gut microbiome altering glucose absorption.

Mice given non-caloric sweeteners developed glucose intolerance more quickly than those given sucrose or glucose. In these animals the artificial sweeteners quickly altered the mouse microbiome in favor of pathways that enhance absorption of calorie rich glucose and short-chain fatty acids. Authors suggest this may help explain the diabetes epidemic, although this needs to be reproduced in humans.

PositiveTip: Emphasizing healthy food choices, cutting back on "junk" food, and physical activity is better than depending on non-caloric sweeteners to control weight.