Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Artificial Sweeteners

If Satan has a favorite food additive it’s probably an artificial sweetener. It comes disguised as something that’s good for you at zero calories. These little packets of chemical concoctions have a rather dubious reputation. If you check the Internet, like I have, you’ll also find some scary information that’ll make you think twice the next time you reach for the sugar caddy to grab one of those little pink, blue and yellow packages for your coffee and/or tea. As a matter of fact, you’ll also see dextrose mentioned on the labels as well. Artificial sweeteners, and the huge list of products sweetened with them, are marketed relentlessly as "health food" or "healthier" than sugar or corn syrup sweetened products because they contain zero or very few calories. Perhaps you may already be familiar with the following:

·      Sucralose
·      Aspartame
·      Saccharine
·      Acesulfame Potassium (aka - acesulfame K)

   These artificial sweeteners are used in abundance in almost every diet drink, lite yogurt, pudding, ice cream, most low-carb products, and almost all reduced-sugar products. Heck, even most healthy protein powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners! I challenge you to take a break from reading right now and look at the ingredients of a healthy product that’s either in your pantry, refrigerator or work desk drawer and see what it says. Just the other day when my naturopathic doctor asked me to bring my vitamins and whey protein powder to his office so he could see what I was taking, he completely burst my bubble when he brought my attention to the acesulfame K in my multivitamin and the sucralose in my whey protein powder. Who knew?

   Sucralose is probably one of the worst offenders of claiming to be "healthy" as they say that it's made from real sugar; ummm, not really. It's still an artificial substance. The truth is that artificial sweeteners are not even close to being healthy, and as we'll discover in a minute, they are easily just as badif not worsethan sugar or corn syrup. Many of us think that we are doing the right thing by opting for the zero calorie diet drinks or lite yogurts compared to the sugar-laden versions, but the problem is that we're still exposing ourselves to a whole new set of problems with the artificially sweetened drinks and foods.

   Artificial sweeteners vs. sugar vs. corn syrup is really just a battle among the lesser evils. Which evil is worse? As we discussed earlier, the primary problems with sugar and high fructose corn syrup sweetened products are the excessive empty calories, blood sugar spike, and resulting insulin surge they create in our body. This not only promotes fat gain, but also stimulates our appetite further in a never-ending cycle that only makes things worse in the end.

   On the other hand, artificial sweeteners can save us calories, but there's growing evidence that they can increase our appetite for sweets and other carbohydrates, causing us to eat more. Therefore, we don't really save any calories at all. Also, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate high insulin levels in our body, which again can promote fat storage.

   Please know that all of the artificial sweeteners we’ve discussed are chemicals, not natural products. The human body was not meant to ingest them, and the jury is still out on the long-term damage we face by consuming them. Unfortunately, most of us are ingesting a whole lot of these chemicals on a daily basis and they have been linked to the following:

Ø  Negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs
Ø  Some have been linked to potential cancer risks
Ø  Stimulating cravings
Ø  Gastrointestinal (GI) problems
Ø  Developmental problems in children and fetuses
Ø  Headaches
Ø  Way too many other issues to list!

   In truth, some of these potential health problems are definitely not proven as fact in studies. However, some have indeed been shown in studies of animals given high doses. Regardless of the debate over if any real health problems for actual human use are proven or not, wouldn’t it be prudent of us in an effort to protect ourselves and our family to simply steer clear of these possibly dangerous chemicals and just learn to better appreciate things in their natural state?

   Of course, despite all of the health issues potentially associated with artificial sweeteners, the companies that sell the products will continue to claim that they are fully safe. In fact, if we are consuming them, our Federal Government must agree that they are safe as well. The bottom line is that our body was not designed to deal with chemicals like artificial sweeteners nor any other man-made substance or process. Now, I don’t want to get all Chuck-D about artificial sweeteners, but God made a lot of healthy low-fat and zero-calorie natural options for us to choose from. Why not simply take a seat at His wonderful buffet?

About the Author: James Hackley is an author, inspirational speaker, and a philanthropist who earned a B.S. degree in Physics from Longwood College and an M.S. degree in Engineering from the University of Virginia.  He's the founder of Omega Consulting Enterprises, chaplain of a local chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity, and faithfully attends Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International in Lansdowne, Va. His latest book, Body, Mind & Spirit: The Awakening can be purchased by visiting him at www.jameshackley.com , www.Amazon.com, and http://www.barnesandnoble.com.

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