When it comes to diet, some things are easier to avoid than others. When people see a drink or food offering low calories, low fat or a “healthy” option, they immediately spring on it, devouring it like figure-conscious wolves. How can it be a bad thing when it has so few calories? How can this can of fizzy drink be worse for me than one with all the sugar in? Well, they can and here is why: artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners are artificially created chemical substances that trick the brain and body into believing they are something they are not, the trans fats for the sweet toothed amongst us if you will. Your body is stimulated in a variety of ways into believing that these nutritionally barren, toxic chemicals are sweet, so sweet that some of them are many thousands of times sweeter than refined sugar, another common addiction for many us. Obviously being fooled isn’t nice but the food industry is often not playing fair when it comes to putting our health over sales. So, what can we look for that goes into low calorie products, sweets and many other foods? Check out my list below and keep yourself safe!
Aspartame – Probably the most famous of the sweeteners, this nasty little ratbag was originally discovered as an anti-ulcer drug. Just remember when you drink a soft drink with some of this stuff in, you are pouring powerful chemically altering medication into yourself unnecessarily. Aspartame has been linked with various neuropsychiatric disorders such as panic attacks, headaches, mood swings, hallucinations, nausea, depression and many more super fun debilitating conditions! It is found in virtually everything that has been processed in some way, from cereal to gelatin, frozen desserts to canned drinks. Try and avoid this badboy if you can! Its also a major product of the Monsanto food corporation, that loveable tyke that has come up with so many artificial products to mess around with nature and the human body! It has a long history of dodgy research and scientists rapidly changing their minds over the products safety, often due to research money being withheld.
It has also been associated with excessive weight gain! Phenylalanine and aspartic acid, important elements of aspartame, trigger the secretion of insulin and leptins. Insulin encourages the body to utilise and store blood sugars, whilst leptin encourages a greater storage of body fat. So you are more likely to get fatter by consuming “low-calorie” aspartame than you are eating high calorie products! When you next see a fat person ordering a high calorie meal and a diet soda, maybe you should think about which one is really contributing to their size more….
Acesulfame K – Another sneaky one, this can be found in everything from marinated fish, processed fruit and vegetables, condiments, vitamin supplements, alcohol and ice cream (the swine!). Acesulfame K has been shown to over stimulate insulin secretion, thereby creating low blood sugar attacks, a problem if you have trouble maintaining blood sugar levels as many people in the Western world now do. It has also been linked with lung and breast tumours, as well as rarer forms such as thymus gland tumors. It is connected with increasing the likelihood of leukaemia and chronic respiratory disease even with less than maximal doses in test subjects.
Sucralose – Widely sold as Splenda, the low calorie artificial sweetener, hailed as a miracle by the food industry upon its introduction. It has been shown that sucralose causes shrunken thymus glands (up to 40%), a problem if you are looking for a functioning immune system, especially for children and teenagers who tend to be the consumers of the greatest amount of sucralose. This leads to more allergies, intolerances and infections, a pattern that is often established for the rest of the subject’s sucralose-munching life. It has not been subject to any long term human research to prove its safety, the same situation for almost all of the sweeteners on this list. Also, in spite of manufacturers claims, it does break down and remain in the body, building up in deposits in the body over time, leading to a snowball effect of ailments. Whilst it may not be as toxic as aspartame, it is something that can cause serious immunological and neurological disorders and therefore should be avoided.
Tagatose – A sly little devil, this one is relatively recent having become popular in the past decade. Consumption of this has been shown to lead to excessively high uric acid in the blood, known as hyperuricemia, which can lead to damage to the bladder, pancreas and other organs, as well as potential urinary tract problems. I don’t know about you but I like my urinary tract just the way it is so I think I will give this one a miss! Tagatose is made from dairy products, so can be a problem unwittingly for vegans. It is often found in pre-biotic soft drinks and heat treated dairy products.
Saccharin – Associated with bladder cancer, saccharin used to carry a label in America warning consumers of the potential hazards of it as a food additive. It has been linked to irritability, insomnia and many other conditions in infants fed with saccharin-adulterated formula milk. The American Medical Association, a body hardly famous for its forward thinking approach to food safety, actually recommended limiting the intake of saccharin in young children and pregnant women (they didn’t go so far as to ban it though, they just couldn’t bring themselves to be that effective!). It has a bitter aftertaste and so, ironically, has to be used in products that disguise this! Interestingly, this is the oldest product on the list and has the fewest links to harmful effects on humans, making it the safest on this list (admittedly, its competition isn’t that stiff!). It can be found in sweets, soft drinks, baked goods and ice cream.
So, our list of nasties ends! Keep an eye out for these bad boys in processed foods but also in products you wouldn’t expect; they crop up a little more regularly than we all like to believe. Remember, just because a product is “low calorie”, “low sodium” or “no sugar!” doesn’t mean that it is healthy, in fact usually the total opposite!
@2014 Hillary Sapulveda