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Just say no to artificial sweeteners

Just like sugar?
Just like sugar?
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In the effort to reduce the amount of sugar in our daily diets we often turn to sugar substitutes. But are these substitutes really acceptable alternatives? Some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners are more dangerous to both our health and our waistline than actual sugar. One proposed reason for this is that our bodies recognize sugar and know what to do in order to process it. Anything artificial is more difficult for our bodies to process and therefore is often stored in our fatty tissues. While an excess of sugar in the diet is certainly not optimal, the available sugar alternatives don't seem to be the solution.

Below are some reasons to avoid sugar substitutes (including Nutra Sweet, Sweet N' Low, Splenda, or anything containing aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame K, or saccharin) altogether.

  • headaches
  • increased appetite
  • brain fog
  • decreased seratonin (the hormone that makes us feel good)
  • linked to the formation of tumors
  • weight gain

I'll bet that last reason grabbed your attention. A large majority of people trying to lose weight utilize artificial sweeteners to retain the sweetness they crave without the calories. Unfortunately, this approach tends to backfire. Artificial sweeteners stimulate our taste receptors, which signals the pancreas to release insulin. Simultaneously, chemicals are sent to the brain's satisfaction center, which becomes confused as to whether or not the body is actually receiving calories. The result of this is feeling hungrier and less full, which stimulates the urge to eat.

A better solution to the sugar dilemma is to reduce your sugar intake gradually. This keeps the symptoms of sugar withdrawal to a minimum. When possible, replace sugar with whole fruits and replace manufactured white sugar for pure organic raw sugar. The more you decrease your dependency on sugar, the more you will notice the natural sweetness in foods and the better you will feel.