Natural or Artifical sugar…
It is becoming more and more common for people to consume high amounts of low-calorie sweeteners. Some types can be 600x sweeter than natural sugar even with zero calories. Should you be consuming this?
are ARTIFICAL SWEETENERS your best option?
What should you be putting in your body?
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that is found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk products. Sugar is also added to many foods and drinks during processing. There are plenty of sugar varieties like agave nectar, honey, and coconut sugar. All of these varieties will affect your blood glucose in similar ways. A 12-ounce can of Coke has 2.6 tablespoons of sugar so, 130 calories of the total 140 calories are of sugar. For reference, one 100-calorie banana contains .8 tablespoons or 40 calories of sugar.
Artificial sugar is a high-intensity sweeter or sugar alternative that few, if any, calories. Most artificial sweeteners are either incompletely metabolized or aren’t metabolized at all. Our bodies do not have the enzymes to digest all of these sweeteners. That is why they are zero calories. Sweeteners trigger the same sensory cells that tell us when we eating something sweet. The FDA has recognized saccharin, aspartame, sucralose, and stevia extract as “generally recognized as safe” in moderation.
Common Artificial Sweeteners
- Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
- High-purity steviol glycosides
- (Stevia rebaudiana)
So which type of sweetener should you be using?
Both of these sugars have different reasons for their use. If you are someone who is looking to lose weight, you should use zero-calorie sweeteners. If you know you have a huge sweet-tooth, consuming a couple of treats with artificial sweeteners will certainly help you to lower the amount of calories you are consuming from sugar. With that being said, keep moderation in mind.
How may this affect your gut?
Recently, there has been concern regarding the recent societal craze for artificial sweeteners. Long-term prospective studies have raised the concern that the consumption of these sweeteners might be contributing to metabolic derangements that lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Here is what we know now…
- The ingestion of saccharin has shown alterations in metabolic pathways linked to glucose tolerance and dysbiosis (microbial balance)
- Only stevia affects gut microbiota composition; neither stevioside or rebaudioside A are absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract
- Polyols (a sugar alcohol found in sugar-free gum and candy) can induce dose dependent flatulence when they reach the colon. This is especially in patients with inflammatory bowel disease
Further studies need to be conducted to draw firm conclusions about the effect sweeteners have on gut health. A lot of the facts mentioned above were discovered through animal testing. In order to truly confirm that artificial sugars act in humans like they do in animals, more studies need to be conducted.
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Source: Johnson RK, Lichtenstein AH, Anderson CAM, et al. Low-Calorie Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic Health: A science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018; 138(9):e126-e140.