Dr Oz: Artificial Sweetener Dangers
Dr Oz said that artificial sweeteners began in the 1950’s with Saccharin, which made soda taste sweet with no calories, which was perfect for dieters. By 1977, Saccharin was at its peak and even though scientists thought it might cause cancer, the demand was so high that it kept it from being banned. Today we have Aspartame, Neotame and Sucralose. Soda is the most common place to find Artificial Sweeteners, but it can be found in 6000 products including baby food, frozen dinners and yogurts. In fact, 15% of Americans use Artificial Sweeteners regularly.
FDA Approved Artificial Sweeteners
Dr Oz said that there are three main groups of Artificial Sweeteners approved by the FDA. Aspartame products like Equal, Sucralose products like Splenda and Saccharin products like Sweet and Low.
Dr Oz was joined by Christine Gerbstadt and Alan Greene to discuss the potential dangers of Artificial Sweeteners. Gerbstadt said that Artificial Sweeteners are 10x to even 1000x sweeter than natural sweeteners, so we have trained our taste-buds to only like super sweet.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Weight Gain?
Zero calories is not a free pass to eat whatever you want. By eating something that tastes sweet, you are telling your body that energy is coming, and when you don’t actually get the energy, your body goes looking for it which can make you even more hungry and can cause you to eat more. Dr Oz showed what happens when you drink a can of diet soda. The soda goes into your stomach and esophagus, where you have receptors to taste and then the pancreas sends messages to your brain to let you know if you have really had calories or not. If your esophagus senses something sweet, but your brain gets the message that there were no calories obtained, then you begin to crave food even more.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Addictive?
Christine Gerbstadt said that Artificial Sweeteners have all of the features of an addiction. Some people cannot live without Artificial Sweeteners. Your tastebuds get reset and become immune to sweetness levels, so your tolerance builds up, which is another sign for addiction.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Diabetes?
Alan Greene said there are two ways that Artificial Sweeteners may be linked to Diabetes. One is through weight gain that Artificial Sweeteners can cause. The second is through insulin resistance that causes Diabetes. Artificial Sweeteners are like the ultimate “crying wolf” to your body that causes big spikes in insulin. When Gerbstadt counsels a Diabetes patient, she tells them that they can have 0-2 servings of Artificial Sweeteners a day and that they need to reset their tastebuds to appreciate the natural sweetness found in milk, vegetables and fruit. Dr Oz pointed out that a serving size of Artificial Sweetener is one packet.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Cause Cancer?
Alan Greene told Dr Oz that studies were done to show that animals fed Artificial Sweeteners over an extended period of time had an increase in getting cancer. However, nothing has been shown with respect to humans yet. Greene said that the only product that has not show an increase in cancer is Sucralose products like.
Dr Oz: Artificial Sweeteners Alternatives
Dr Oz gave three natural alternatives to Artificial Sweeteners: Honey, Agave, and Truvia or Stevia. Dr Oz also said that since they are sweeter, we can use less of them. Alan Greene said that honey is great because it is a complex food that is found in nature and there are as many as 25 compounds found in honey. The glycemic index for honey can vary a lot, so look for ones with less sugar. Greene told Dr Oz that Truvia or Stevia are low calorie, but there really is not enough research on them yet. Agave is a distilled sweetener, but it is not that different than sugar or corn syrup, it is just that agave has a low glycemic index.
Dr Oz said that the bottom line is that Artificial Sweeteners are not a get out of jail free card, so it is best to get eat something else!