Tuesday, May 15, 2018 by Vicki Batts
Artificial sweeteners have been heralded by weight-conscious folks looking to cut calories for the last few decades. It’s hard to ignore the fact that dieters and health-conscious people alike have been led to believe that choosing a sugar substitute over the real thing is actually their best option — but is that really true? Research continues to demonstrate that artificial sweeteners can be just as damaging as too much sugar (and perhaps, even more so).
Aspartame, sucralose and the like have been kings of the weight-loss industry for far too long, and it is beginning to look like science may finally dethrone them. But, only if the masses rise up and replace the food industry’s phony synthetics with real food.
“Artificial sweeteners are not risk-free,” Brian Hoffmann, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University, declared.
“They are a very controversial topic when it comes to health and nutrition … but they’re so prevalent in society that I think we owe it to ourselves to try and figure out what’s actually going on,” he contended. Hoffman and his team recently presented their research on artificial sweeteners at the annual Experimental Biology meeting in San Diego.
Hoffman, one of the study’s lead authors, says that their findings indicate that sugar substitutes contribute to metabolic disorder and disease through an entirely different pathway compared to regular sugar. Their research shows that artificial sugars alter the activity of select genes charged with processing and breaking down proteins and fats.
To conduct their research, the team utilized rats and human cell cultures. What they found was that there are a number of metabolic changes that can occur at a genetic level which can result in disease. As WPTV reports, the scientists found that just three weeks of exposure to two common sweeteners, aspartame and acesulfame potassium, altered the expression of select genes charged with lipid metabolism in both rat and human cells.
Aspartame and acesulfame potassium are both used to make a popular sugar substitute, Equal.
As Hoffman explained further, “Aspartame had some significant changes, and one of those was an increase in lipids in the bloodstream and a decrease in a biomolecule that is involved in clearing (lipids) from the bloodstream. And we saw the exact same thing with the acesulfame potassium.”
Past research has suggested that artificial sweetener consumption can increase the risk of diabetes by up to 500 percent — and Hoffman’s research provides insight as to why this happens. He also noted that when these sweeteners were added to endothelial cells (cells that line our blood vessels), “marked dysfunction” was observed. Hoffman posits that perhaps this is why artificial sugars are linked to an increase in cardiovascular issues, as well.
Hoffman and his team have shown that artificial sweeteners cause metabolic changes at a genetic level — changes that do not take place when regular sugar is consumed. This, they hypothesize, shows how sugar substitutes may cause diseases like obesity and diabetes through a completely different pathway than sugar.
But obesity and diabetes are not the only health problems that artificial sugars have been accused of causing. Multiple studies have shown that while they may be low in calories, they are not good for your body. Last year, a 10-year study concluded that women who were regularly consuming aspartame-sweetened beverages were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease — and die from it.
And the saga of artificial sugar doesn’t end there: Research has also shown that these calorie-free substitutes may contribute to intestinal inflammation and worsen the symptoms of conditions like Crohn’s disease and IBS. Learn more about what you’re eating at Food.news.
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