In my post last week, I talked about natural versus added sugars. This week it is time to discuss the unfortunate cousin of sugars, artificial sweeteners. While we find these chemical concoctions in everything marked “Light” or “Diet”, after decades of their existence we are beginning to understand that they are actually an anti-diet food—they are the last thing you want to consume if you want to lose weight, and/or have the healthiest body possible!
So we are all on the same page, let’s look at what we are considering “artificial” sweeteners:
- Aspartame (Equal and NutraSweet)
- Sucralose (Splenda)
- Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin, NectaSweet)
- Acesulfame K (Sunett and Sweet One)
- Stevia (Truvia, Pure Via, Sun Crystals)
Each of these sweeteners is highly chemically-processed, and much sweeter than sugar. While they are approved by the FDA, their safety has been in question since the beginning. However, even without the possibility of causing cancer, we should be avoiding these sweeteners because they do exactly what they are meant to do: taste sweet.
Well why is that so bad, you ask? Back in this article where I discussed food quality, I explained how there were two main problems when it came to artificial sweeteners, which are based in how our bodies work: we crave sweet because back in the early days of humanity, sweet foods delivered important nutrients. So, the first problem is that, since they “deliver a sweetness hit that is far beyond anything that you could ever find in nature” (according to the Hartwigs’ It Starts With Food), artificial sweeteners can actually make your taste buds less interested in natural sweetness. A piece of fruit becomes dull, and even something made with regular sugar may not seem sweet anymore.
The second issue with artificial sweeteners that scientists have been discovering recently, is that they send a signal to your brain that sugar is coming. Great! your brain thinks (again, your brain likes sugar). But when your body doesn’t end up receiving the promised sugar, your brain will tell you that you need to eat something else now. It wants its sugar! So, again you end up overeating.
Did you know many people in the wealthier parts of the world are actually clinically malnourished? We have more than we can possibly eat (a disgraceful percentage of food in America ends up getting thrown out!), but we are not properly nourished because we are not getting the vital nutrients our bodies need, as we replace real whole foods with cheap, processed food-products. As the Hartwigs point out in It Starts With Food, “Food scientists caught on to the fact that our brains respond strongly to specific flavors… and, armed with this knowledge, they began to modify our whole foods…. These foods light up the pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended—not because they provide vital nutrition, but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds” (Emphasis authors’).
We don’t need processed food, and we certainly don’t need artificial sweeteners in our diets—we need more whole fruits and vegetables, nuts, seed and beans, and QUALITY meat and dairy products. That is the only way we will be able to live our healthiest lives, and I truly believe that that is the only way to be able to properly lose weight, and maintain a healthy weight. Remember, your body is made to crave the foods that are jam-packed with nutrition. It’s time we ignored “science”, and followed our bodies’ lead!