Dr. Mehmet Oz discussed the health dangers of artificial sweeteners on the March 10 episode of the Dr. Oz Show ("The New Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners").
Dr. Oz said many people use artificial sweeteners to avoid extra calories, but are actually setting themselves up for weight gain and even diabetes.
"They've tricked your mind, and they can actually trick your gut," he said. "They can make you overeat."
Dr. Oz said the dangers of artificial sweeteners include:
- Weight gain
- Type 2 diabetes
- Increased appetite
- Hormone imbalances
- Gas, bloating, loose stool.
- GMOs (genetically modified organisms).
Dr. Oz said the average person uses 500 packets of artificial sweeteners every year. The most popular artificial sweeteners are aspartame (found in blue packets of Equal), sucralose (yellow Splenda packets), and saccharin (pink Sweet'N Low packets).
Dr. Oz said when you consume an artificial sweetener, taste receptors in your esophagus and stomach get stimulated, and your pancreas release insulin in anticipation of receiving something sweet. Insulin signals your body to store fat.
Meanwhile, your brain's satiety center waits for cues to determine whether you've received calories. But since artificial sweeteners have no calories, your brain gets confused because it has been tricked. Dr. Oz said these confusing signals trigger sugar cravings, increase your appetite, destroy your metabolism, and cause weight gain.
What's more, because artificial sweeteners are 100 to 600 times sweeter than real sugar, your taste buds gradually become desensitized, making you crave even more sugar.
Dr. Oz said the food industry has started using alternative names to fool consumers after sales of artificial sweeteners plummeted following health warnings. He said to be on the lookout for these alternative names:
- acesulfame potassium.
Dr. Oz said another major reason to avoid artificial sweeteners is that some are made from genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Many artificial sweeteners are made from beets, soy and corn, which are grown with genetically modified seeds. Researchers have linked GMOs to cancer, birth defects, accelerated aging, infertility, and resistance to antibiotics.
Dr. Oz also said artificial sweeteners can cause painful bloating, gas and loose stool. For example, he said chewing just five sticks of sugarless gum lead to cramping and diarrhea.
So far, the only natural sweetener that Dr. Oz approves of comes from the stevia plant (marketed under the brand name Truvia Natural Sweetener). However, not all stevia products are created equal, so make sure your ingredient list says “stevia” or “stevia extract.”
Dr. Oz's Anti-Aging Health Book Recommendations
Dr. Oz has launched a new segment where he recommends three anti-aging health and fitness books each month. Here are his top picks for March 2014:
- The Disease Delusion
- Inheritance: How our Genes Change our Lives
- Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success
Dr. Oz's recommended books for February were: