If you are into health and fitness or just trying to lose weight, you are most likely to be using products that are sugar-free.
I have spoken about the dangers of sugar in another article (you can read it here) however there is another elephant in the room that needs to be addressed first: artificial sweeteners.
Table of Contents
What are Artificial Sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners were initially introduced to minimize the dangers and side effects of high sugar consumption and help people control their weight. Unfortunately the damages they introduced are, in some cases, even more severe and dangerous than the ones from sugar.
At this time, they can be found pretty much everywhere. From foods and sodas (often labeled sugar free, low fat, light or fat free) to chewing gums, oral hygiene products and of course dietary supplements. Speaking of dietary supplements, protein powder is usually one of the products that contains heavy amounts of artificial sweeteners 99% of the time. It is also one of the most basic supplements used in nutritional programs by anyone who seeks better performance, optimized health or both.
Here I will list most of the artificial sweeteners out there and dangers associated with each one of them.
Sucralose (or Splenda)
Initially marketed as Splenda, it is a chlorinated version of sugar (sucrose). It is made by replacing 3 hydroxyl groups with 3 chlorine atoms. In common English, Splenda is a sweetener with chlorine, a very known carcinogenic for humans.
While extensive research has not been conducted for Sucralose, a lot of side effects have been associated with its consumption as reported by the Sucralose Toxicity Information Center:
- Skin rashes/flushing,
- Panic-like agitation,
- Dizziness and numbness,
- Muscle aches,
- Intestinal cramping,
- Bladder issues,
- Stomach pain.
What is even funnier (or scarier) is the fact that the chlorine used in sucralose has a chemical structure identical to the banned pesticide DDT and according to a study from Duke University, sucralose can reduce the amount of healthy bacteria in your gut which are needed for proper digestion and can even interfere with the effectiveness of prescribed drugs.
Also known as Nutrasweet or Equal, this sweetener was discovered by accident in a lab while scientists were trying to come up with a drug for ulcer.
Currently aspartame is associated with the following side effects:
- Change in vision,
- Nausea and vomiting,
- Insomnia / sleep problems,
- Abdominal and joint pains,
- Cardiac changes (Change in heart rate),
- Memory loss,
- Brain cancer.
You can also check out this page (http://www.sweetpoison.com/aspartame-side-effects.html) that lists an entire page of aspartame side effects.
As a chemical substance aspartame is made up of three components:
- Phenylalanine (50%) which breaks down to DPK (diketopiperazine) at high temperatures. DPK is a known carcinogen (study).
On top of that, phenylalanine is dangerous for people who suffer from phenylketonuria.
- Aspartic acid (40%) or aspartate which is a non-essential amino acid. In a 1994 study in “Neurology” journal, it was shown that too much aspartic acid can lead to headaches.Also aspartate can increase over-stimulation of nerve cells causing them to fire off. This is something that has been labeled as excitotoxicity by Dr. Russell Blaylock, giving aspartate the name excitotoxin. (See study)
- Methanol (10%) or wood alcohol. Wood alcohol is known to cause methanol poisoning. Complications of methanol poisoning include blindness, brain swelling, pancreatitis, numbness, cardiac changes and even death. Also when methanol is heated, it turns into formaldehyde.Formaldehyde has been shown to cause cancer as it is accumulated slowly in the body without being detected (study) .
Acesulfame Potassium (K)
Also known as acesulfame K, is actually a potassium salt that contains methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.
It is often found in food products (especially sugar free chewing gums) alongside other artificial sweeteners as it enhances the sweet taste of products. This ingredient cannot be metabolized or stored in the body and is excreted unchanged. Early studies have shown that there is a potential link with the development in multiple cancers in lab animals.
Side effects include:
- Mood problems,
- Liver and kidney problems,
Also known as saccharine, it is a sulfa-based sweetener with benzoic sulfimide as its main ingredient. It has also been marketed as Sweet n Low, Sweet Twin and Necta Sweet and is often found on labels as sodium saccharin, calcium saccharin or acid saccharin. Sometimes calcium silicate is included as an anti-caking agent.
In early studies, it was shown to cause bladder cancer in rats (See study) but currently no link to bladder cancer in humans has been proven.
Side effects include:
- Skin problems or other allergy-related symptoms.
I hope this article gave you a clear idea about the dangers of artificial sweeteners. If you are serious about your health, make sure you avoid any product that includes them. Instead, you could replace them with natural sugars such as those mentioned in my previous article “How to Identify sugar on Food labels“ and make sure you buy supplements in bulk without artificial sweeteners.
Have you experienced any of the side effects mentioned in this article after using products with artificial sweeteners? How did you deal with it? Leave a comment below to let me know.
I hope you enjoyed this article as much as I did writing it. Putting together this article took a bit of time but it will only take you a second to click on the Share buttons below and show your support to this blog.
by Nick Sigma
CWC, EH, E-YRT200