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Artificial Sweeteners – Are They Good or Bad for Your Diet?
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the average person should get no more than 10 teaspoons a day of added sugar and the American Heart Association recommends even less. However, recent studies show that the Americans are getting 20 teaspoons or more of added sugar per day. This added sugar comes from sugary beverages, the sugar we add to coffee, tea, and cereals, and sugar found in processed foods, among other sources. Sugar adds a lot of empty calories to our diet and contributes to weight gain and many serious health issues.
In an effort to reduce the added sugar in their diet, many turn to artificial sweeteners to get that same sweet taste without the calories. Since artificial sweeteners sweeten food products without adding calories, food producers have flooded the market with low calorie diet products of all shapes and sizes which contain these types of sweeteners. Using artificial sweeteners may seem like the best way of lowering calorie intake, but are they really as good as they seem? There’s a raging debate on the subject, so let’s take a closer look at the possible effects of using artificial sweeteners.
Physiological disturbances due to artificial sweeteners
Many of you may have heard about Povlov’s experiment. In this experiment Povlov trained dogs to associate the ringing of a bell with receiving food. He proved that the mere association or thought of food can trigger many physiological and hormonal responses in the body in preparation for food intake. The thought or smell of food can actually initiate a physiological response in the body which sets the stage for proper digestion, absorption and metabolism. When you think about eating something sweet your body may also prepare itself for managing the calories that are coming, but if the food contains artificial sweeteners instead of the real thing, the body can become confused and this can disturb normal physiology.
Research on artificial sweeteners
The results of a study on the effects of artificial sweeteners were published in the Journal of Behavioral Neurosciences in February 2008. In this study, two groups of rats were fed yogurt regularly, one group was fed yogurt with real sugar and the other was fed yogurt containing artificial sweeteners. The results showed that food intake increased in rats on artificial sweeteners. This indicates that these sweeteners may actually stimulate appetite and cause you to eat more. Ultimately, results of this study showed that the rats who consumed artificial sweeteners exhibited metabolic changes that led to greater weight and fat gain.
We are bombarded with diet foods and diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners, but as long as the effects of these sweeteners are not conclusive, moderate consumption may be the best way to go. Certainly it is recommended that you reduce added sugar in your diet. Many foods such as fruits, whole grains, and milk products contain natural sugar; we don’t really need to add sugar to our food. At the very least you should choose blackstrap molasses, raw honey, and the herb stevia in place of white refined sugar.
For effective and healthy weight loss, your best solution is a balanced diet and regular exercise. You can find more comprehensive tips on diet management in The Healthy Way Diet Manual.