Artificial sweeteners are calorie-free or low-calorie chemical compounds that mimic the taste of sugar but have lower energy content. They’re in everything from drinks, sweets, and ready-to-eat meals to cakes, chewing gum, and toothpaste. Some sugar alternatives are natural, while others are artificial. Artificial sweeteners are those that aren’t made from natural ingredients. Some of the well-known artificial sweeteners are- aspartame, sacchari, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame, etc.
Sweeteners aren’t essential ingredients in our diet; therefore their purpose is to satisfy our sweet craving rather than our bodies’ nutritional needs. Artificial sweeteners have 200 times the sweetness of sugar. Therefore, while sweeteners may be safe to consume, are they healthy?
The Different Uses of Sugar Substitutes
Sugar substitutes are used in place of sugar in various foods since different varieties of it have the ability to extend and intensify fruit flavors, for instance in foods like beverages and chewing gum. Besides this, most of the available sugar substitutes are way cheaper than sugar in the final food formulation.. Additionally, sugar substitutes come in handy for diabetes patients and dieters who have trouble controlling their sugar cravings. They can enjoy a more diverse diet by limiting their sugar intake by replacing it with artificial sweeteners. Some sugar substitutes do release energy, but they are processed more slowly, allowing blood sugar levels to remain more stable over time.
Sugar Coated Controversies
Sugar-free, But at What Cost?
The effect of artificial sweeteners on humans is quite complex owing to their tricky nature. While artificial sweeteners may prove to be beneficial with weight loss and maintenance, controlling blood sugar levels and helping with dental health, its effect on humans and our dietary tendencies is quite conflicting. In contrast to its temporary benefits, it can have some devastating long term drawbacks such as- it may result in an imbalance of the gut flora with poor gut health symptoms such as gastritis, bloating and cramping; it can cause unpleasant digestive symptoms and distress; it may confuse our bodies and disrupt appetite regulation thereby increasing our craving for sweet food; the metabolic changes brought about by its consumption may actually result in long term weight gain. To put it another way, artificial sweeteners can cause you to avoid eating healthy, filling, and nutritious foods in favour of artificially flavoured foods with lower nutritional value.
Therefore, whether artificial sweeteners are safe are not, depends on your definition of safe. While they may have their own set of pros as opposed to using sugar, they are at the end of the day, just temporary hacks with short-lived benefits.