Low-Calorie Sweeteners May Contribute to Weight Gain

Low-Calorie Sweeteners May Contribute to Weight Gain

Low-Calorie Sweeteners May Contribute to Weight Gain

You may want to think twice about consuming artificial sweeteners again, according to a new study that connects them to long-term weight gain, increased obesity risk, and potential health dangers beyond one's waistline.

And, she says, one option is to reduce your taste for sweet altogether rather than choosing between a sugar-sweetened or artificially-sweetened drink or food. Diabetics and those who strictly watched calories for the goal of weight management/loss have been the targeted lot.

In a study conducted by researchers in Israel, the sweeteners were found to alter the gut bacteria involved in processes such as metabolism and food's conversion into energy or stored fuel.

"There's no clear evidence for benefit from the artificial sweeteners, and there is a potential that they have a negative impact, but we need more research to figure it out for sure", said Meghan Azad, an epidemiologist at the University of Manitoba and lead author on the paper.

Artificial additives contain hazardous substances, which few people realize. Palm sugar, raw organic honey, jaggery, brown sugar, demerara sugar and organic sugar varieties are some of the best alternatives to regular refined sugar.

"Given the widespread and increasing use of artificial sweeteners, and the current epidemic of obesity and related diseases, more research is needed to determine the long-term risks and benefits of these products", she concluded.

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"The results showed a statistically significant association between consumption of artificial sweeteners and higher risks of diabetes and heart disease, as well as increased weight gain", she said.

The findings were detailed in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Another study published earlier this year found that a quarter of USA children and 41 percent of adults reported consuming them, majority once per day. Seven of the studies were randomized controlled trials, a type considered to be the gold standard in scientific research. Some researchers speculate that the sweeteners interfere with a person's microbiome, a collection of gut bacteria crucial for the absorption of nutrients.

They also may not reflect how people behave in the real world.

The sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, are used in thousands of diet products including drinks, desserts, ready meals, cakes, chewing gum and even toothpaste. They may sharpen a sweet tooth, for example, prompting you to eat more sugary foods, or they may make you feel virtuous but then overcompensate later. Some researchers also believe that sweeteners may interfere with the body's mechanisms for metabolizing sugar.

Azad's research suggests that "long term consumption of sweeteners may have adverse effects". "People need to be reducing their overall intake of sweeteners whether they have calories or not", says Swithers.

Azad suggests that consumers who turn to artificial sweeteners on the assumption that they're a healthier choice should to be cautious.

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