August 23, 2018

Artificial Sweeteners Good For You? Part 1

Articles by Dr. Erdman are for informational purposes, and are not to be taken as specific medical advice.

How many of you think you are doing yourself a favor by reducing calorie intake with artificial, no calorie sweeteners? You know the pink, blue, yellow, and now green packets. Advertisers entice people to use artificial sweeteners as a means to lose weight. Did you know it doesn’t really help at all? Would you believe it actually makes you fatter? Studies show that artificial sweeteners have adverse consequences, including tricking the body into desiring MORE calories. Plus, the long list of side effects connected to them just doesn’t make sense for your health. This week, we’ll look at the ones you should avoid, and in the next article we will cover what you can safely use as alternate sweeteners.

First, to prove my point above, a study by the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, presented this report at an American Diabetes Association meeting. Diet sodas are not a “guilt free” treat at all. After following 474 diet soda drinkers for 10 years, they found that their waists grew 70% more than those who drank non-diet sodas. For those who drank 2 or more diet sodas a day, their waists increased, on average, over 500%. Waist size indicates the amount of fat at your organs, which is strongly linked to type II diabetes.

Several recent studies have shown that you are not really fooling your brain with artificial sweeteners. Functional MRI’s taken after a person was given sugar and later given a blend of artificial sweeteners, shows the brain knows the difference, and artificial sweeteners do not activate the “reward centers” of your brain, the caudate nucleus. This means when you try to satiate your desire for sweetness artificially, it does not work, and you keep eating until you get satisfied. I’m not saying go indulge in lots of sugar, but it does show your body isn’t fooled.

Let’s start with the blue packet, aspartame, aka NutraSweet and Equal. This is a completely synthetic chemical concoction made from two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. These amino acids are normally found in meat, fish and eggs, in amounts totaling 4-5% of amino acid makeup. 

Aspartame is 50% phenylalanine, 40% aspartic acid and 10% wood alcohol, a known poison. In large amounts like this, they are neurotoxic, and literally attack your brain cells, creating a cellular over stimulation, called excitotoxicity. The most frequent reactions of neural excitotoxicity are migraine headaches, seizures and depression. Northeastern Ohio University studied the depressive effects, and had to scrap the study midway through because two-thirds of the people in the trial group dropped out due to… depression. Weight gain is also a side effect due to the fact that these amino acids stimulate the release of leptin and insulin hormones that instruct your body to store fat. They also drive down serotonin levels, which lead to food cravings, eating more and gaining weight.

Next up is the yellow packet, sucralose, aka Splenda. This is another completely synthetic chemical. Prior to FDA approval, it was found safe in 100 animal trials. Yet there were only two human trials, with 36 subjects, lasting a mere 4 days. Only 8 men were used to study how it was absorbed by the body. As of 2006, only 6 human trials have been reported, lasting a long of 3 months. These showed that 15% of Splenda is not excreted in a timely manner. Making this junk is a five step process where 3 chlorine molecules are added to one sugar molecule. There is chlorine in many foods we eat from nature, but they are all connected with ionic bonds, which easily dissociate (break apart.) In Splenda, these bonds are covalent bonds (back to organic chemistry anyone?) that do not dissociate. There are no covalent bonds of chlorine in nature. There are many covalently bonded chlorine compounds made by man. These include DDT, PCB’s and Agent Orange. How’s that for bad company? The list of side effects is long, including a short list of headaches, dizziness, seizures, joint pain, muscle spasm, anxiety, numbness, weight gain and memory loss. Do these sound like things I hear every day in my office? Look at all the musculoskeletal dysfunctions mimicked by this chemical. Chiropractic is great for these conditions, but I can’t do a thing for you if the cause is 8 diet sodas a day packed with Splenda.

In those 100 animal studies deeming it safe for humans, they didn’t tell you all the problems the animals had besides not dying. They include anemia, infertility in males, spontaneous abortions in half the rabbits and zero abortions in the control group, kidney problems and a 23% death rate of rabbits versus a 6% death rate of rabbits in the control group.  Not pretty things, to say the least.

On to the pink packet, saccharin, aka Sweet-N-Low. This was actually discovered over 100 years ago, in 1879. It was banned in 1911 after studies showed it caused bladder cancer. That ban was lifted during the sugar rationing of WW1. By 1970, the FDA again showed it caused bladder cancer, and that was confirmed in 1977 by Canadian researchers. Hence the FDA put the warning label on it, which partly reads “causes cancer in laboratory animals”. By the year 2000, after intense lobbying of congress (who’d have guessed?), congress removed the FDA’s warning. Pregnant mothers especially need to rid their diet of this chemical because even small amounts could overwhelm the developing fetus’ defenses and cause damage to the developing bladder. Other effects include inflammation, hormonal imbalances and associated chronic diseases.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is another sweetener commonly used. I’ve written a whole article on it previously. Email me for that one if you want it. Just consider it one to avoid as much as possible.

Agave is a common sweetener advocated by some as safer and naturally healthy. Blue Agave is an exotic plant from Mexico. Ferment it, and you have tequila. In reality it is a high fructose syrup, worse than even high fructose corn syrup. HFCS is usually about 55% fructose, Agave is anywhere from 70-97% fructose, far worse for you. I wouldn’t touch the stuff.

In the next article, we’ll look at sweeteners that can be used safely. Those include sugar (in small amounts), stevia, stevia based Truvia and PureVia, xylitol and pure dextrose (glucose).