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The Low-Down About Artificial Sweeteners



There are so many different artificial sweeteners we can find on the shelves of our favorite grocery stores. Usually, artificial sweeteners are used as a part of a low-calorie diet, as well as a safer option for those living with diabetes. What do we really know about these sugar substitutes, though? This blog will go into a bit more detail about three popular artificial sweeteners: aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet n Low), and sucralose (Splenda).


Aspartame

Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by an American chemist named James Schlatter. “Aspartame is a low calorie sweetener used to sweeten a variety of low and reduced calorie foods and beverages including low calorie tabletop sweetener as well as for use in gum, breakfast cereal and other dry products. Aspartame provides energy of 4 calories per gram.” [1] Since aspartame is used in many commonly consumed products, it’s important to know how the human body reacts to it. “Upon ingestion, aspartame breaks down into natural residual components, including aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol and further break down products including formaldehyde, formic acid and diketopiperazine, each of which [is] then metabolized just as it would be if derived from other dietary sources and are safe as consumed in normal diets.” [1] Although there is some controversy around the safety of consuming aspartame, it “has been found to be safe for human consumption by more than ninety countries worldwide,” including the United States. [1]


Saccharin

Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg discovered this artificial sweetener in 1878, and almost a century later, their discovery was causing quite the uproar. “The FDA tried to ban saccharin in 1977 because animal studies had shown that it caused cancer in rats.” [1] Obviously, saccharin is still being used as Sweet n Low is still sold in America. “No study has ever shown a clear causal relationship between saccharin consumption and health risks in humans at normal doses. Though some studies have shown a correlation between consumption and cancer incidence.” [1] If you are an individual that consumes Sweet n Low over other artificial sweeteners, it may be preferable to keep your consumption low, or to try a different sugar substitute and see how you like it.


Sucralose

This artificial sweetener was discovered in 1976. “Although sucralose is made from sugar, the human body does not recognize it as a sugar and does not metabolize it, therefore it provides no calories. The bulk of sucralose ingested does not leave the gastrointestinal tract and is directly excreted in the feces while 11–27% of it is absorbed. The amount that is absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract is largely removed from the bloodstream by the kidneys and eliminated in the urine.” [1] Sucralose may cause inflammation, according to studies done on animals, which can lead to obesity and diabetes. [2]


If you can help it, it may be better to keep your consumption of artificial sweeteners low, as studies have shown that they have the possibility to cause adverse health effects in humans.



References:

1. Chattopadhyay, S., Raychaudhuri, U., & Chakraborty, R. (2014, April). Artificial Sweeteners - A Review. Journal of food science and technology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3982014/?utm_source=yandex&utm_medium=dzen&utm_campaign=ZOJ_nov2020&utm_content=sugar&utm_term=5fbf658dd81aaf181b3bf31e.


2. Gilmerm. (2021, August 2). Is sucralose (splenda) bad for you? Is Sucralose Bad for You? The Truth About Splenda – Cleveland Clinic. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/is-sucralose-splenda-bad-for-you/amp/.


 

Contributors:

Author: Lauryn Agron

Editor: Kayjah Taylor

Health scientist: Keeana Bacchus



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