Artificial Sweeteners: Safe or no?

Artificial sweeteners have become just as bad as smoking with claims of causing cancer, killing us, and apparently being able to melt our skin off or something like that. I’m specifically talking about the use of sweeteners in a beverage context (diet drinks). There has been an extreme amount of controversy surrounded around this subject, but before claiming that diet drinks are creating a slow painful death for people, let’s get the facts straight.

I searched the interweb for study after study only to find that there is no conclusive evidence that in fact artificial sweeteners cause cancer or weight gain. My findings about where this whole “artificial sweeteners are going to kill you” thing came from a study done in the 1980’s that the increasing rate of brain tumors during this time may have been related to the artificial sweetener aspartame, BUT hold the phone! According to the National Cancer Institute(NCI) the increase in brain tumor rates actually began early 1970’s WAY before aspartame was even talked about.

Literally there is no sound scientific evidence that any of the artificial sweeteners approved for use cause cancer or serious health problems and the studies that do have a miniscule amount of proof always have inconclusive evidence to back up the findings. Numerous studies have confirmed that artificial sweeteners are generally safe in limited quantities.

Do I think artificial sweeteners are “healthy”? No, and if you are reading this thinking that’s my belief and I’m telling you to go ahead and bathe in a swimming pool of sucralose, you’re taking the article in a different context than intended. I do however think there are benefits to diet drinks and sweeteners, and before you come at me bro, let me explain my position. I believe that they can be beneficial when trying to lose fat/weight as well as curb cravings. This decreases the amount of calories you’re consuming in a day, and in turn leads to weight loss. You will never convince me that drinking a diet drink is more harmful to you than continuing to eat high processed, high calorie foods that are going to lead to weight gain which we all know can cause way more health problems in the long run.

I use artificial sweeteners and have some form of diet drink 1-2x per day. This may be a diet soda, a flavor packet (crystal light), zero calorie energy drink, or something of that nature. They not only satisfy my sweet tooth, but they also prevent me from overeating and decrease my hunger levels and let’s be honest, being hungry is the biggest problem when trying to lose fat and cutting calories, and usually why most people aren’t successful in the fat/weightloss  game.

I’ve had backlash before for using artificial sweeteners and this usually comes from people who eat a ton of processed food and don’t exercise. I drink nearly 6 liters of water per day, exercise consistently, eat my veggies, get my fiber in, but I’m the unhealthy bad guy for drinking things that have artificial sweeteners? Interesting.

Here’s the reality, 1-2 diet drinks or moderate use of artificial sweeteners are probably not going to send you to an early grave. What people don’t know is the studies done show that the amount we would have to consume for them to be harmful is an amount that none of us would ever reach in our lifetime, well 99% of us.

Exactly how much would I have to consume for sweeteners such as aspartame to be “harmful?” Well, an acceptable daily intake or ADI is determined through scientists reviewing all chemical research and existing research into its effects on animals and humans (good, bad, cancer causing, toxicity, etc). They then determine how much humans can safely consume daily. We’ll use aspartame as an example. 50 milligrams per kilo of bodyweight is considered the max amount a person can have daily without harmful effects. Ok, math time!

I’m 112 lbs and there’s roughly 180 mg of aspartame per can of diet coke, that means I would need to down roughly 13 cans PER DAY before I start getting in the unsafe zone. My one can per day doesn’t even come close, so I think I’m good.

 

If artificial sweeteners give you headaches, cause bloating, create water retention or overall make you feel like shit, then don’t use them or drink products that contain them, pretty easy to figure that out right?

 

The diet drinks aren’t the problem, it’s the overconsumption of food, weight gain, being inactive, increased sugar, not enough fiber, not enough whole foods, lack of water, etc. THESE are the things that can lead a person down to the road of being “unhealthy”, and until you get control and improve in those areas, the last thing you should be worrying about is that a packet of splenda or diet coke a day is going to lead to cancer. First and foremost, drink your water every day, seriously, and lots of it.

 

-Coach Abby

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27088715

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26202345

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17828671/
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3368586

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