Truth behind artificial sweeteners

Updated at: Feb 01, 2013
Truth behind artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are low-calorie substances that are used instead of table sugar to sweeten food and beverages. Many scientists have verified its safety, however there are still concerns regarding their safety.

Vidya Subramanian
Exercise & FitnessWritten by: Vidya SubramanianPublished at: Feb 01, 2013

Truth behind artificial sweetenersIn a quick, random, and completely unscientific survey of twelve friends, eight chose sugar as the first thing which should be stripped off from their serious diet plan (the others said carbohydrates). And for all twelve of them, their basic aim was to lose weight. Well, we figure that it is safe to say that sugar is prominent on the list of Public Enemies to fight during a diet plan. But what does one do about the slavery of the taste buds? Beverages taste lousy without sugar, and mithais? Don’t even start! So, what to do then? The top answer is here!


So, exactly how does an artificial sweetener work?

The feeling of ‘sweetness’ is not derived from sugar. ‘Sweetness’ is a chemical response that is generated in the taste buds. The stronger the interaction of a material in a particular way with a particular taste bud, the more sweet the substance seems to us. Many substances that contain chemicals called glycosides feel ‘sweet’. What artificial sweeteners do is artificially recreate the reaction of the taste buds with substances other than sugar. “There are several natural sweeteners that can be used as sugar substitutes as well,” says Jyoti arora, Head Dietician at Artemis. “Indian homes are usually well stocked with honey and jaggery or gur that must be preferred over artificial sweeteners,” she added.

As in most cases, the thumb rule is that natural is better than artifical stuff created in a lab, but the sweet temptation of these readily available artificial sweeteners that promise to ‘taste just like sugar’ is far too great for many of us to resist. Saccharin and aspartame were two of the first artificial sweeteners to hit the market. The health hazards of both have been highly debated and while the industry refutes the infallibility of the findings of scientists, the findings seem pretty scary. Articial sweeteners are a big no-no for kidney patients, explains Jyoti Arora. This is because its bi product can harm our kidney, further aggravating kidney problems.

No wonder Max Health care’s chief dietician Dr. Ritika Samaddar would bluntly like to call artificial sweeteners as a “bane”. According to her, “people are misusing these sweeteners in order to reduce weight, only to discover later on that they have gained it.”


Aspartame is a very dangerous chemical


Scientists have claimed that Aspartame is a very dangerous chemical that can generate health problems ranging from mild headaches to complete blindness, and from drowsiness to epileptic seizures. In USA, six sugar substitutes have been given the approval of the FDA (Food and Drug Authority): saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium, and stevia. All of these are sold in India as well. The health risks of all of these are still debated with some scientists claiming massive health adversities resulting from the use of artificial sweeteners and others challenging these findings. Aspartame has been one of the most used artificial sweeteners in the world because it does not leave a bitter aftertaste as saccharin does.

The case of artificial sweeteners may be wide open, but there is that argument of it being better to be safe than sorry to contend with.





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