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Artificial Sweeteners – Are the downsides over hyped?

Posted by Arun Kumar S on

We are talking about non-calorific artificial sweeteners here – the ones we use in very small quantities to replace a high amount of sugar. We are seeing these more often on our grocery store aisles in the form of Diet Coke, sugar-free biscuits, protein bars etc.

 

  The most common among these in Indian snack foods are -

  • Sucralose
  • Aspartame
  • Acesulfame potassium

These are all zero calorie sweeteners that can help you in lowering your overall calorie intake and technically help you to fight obesity, diabetes etc. Or at least that is the narrative that food marketers would like you to believe.

Sucralose
Sucralose is synthesized from sugar. It is not metabolized by our body meaning most of it is excreted out. The accepted daily intake (ADI) is 5 mg/Kg of bodyweight per day. No dangerous after effects of sucralose consumption have been identified in humans as yet.

Acesulfame-K
This sweetener is about 200 times as sweet as sugar. One by product of Ace-K breakdown in our body is acetoacetamide which is toxic in extremely high doses. But technically you cannot hit such levels unless your consumption is in multiple spoonfuls.

Aspartame
ADI for aspartame is 50 mg/Kg of body weight per day. That is like 15 bottles of the 500 ml diet coke. Studies have shown increase in leukemia, cell tumors in rodents linked to increased aspartame dosage but researchers have dismissed these since rodents process aspartame very different from human body. At reasonable doses aspartame has been deemed perfectly safe.

So why the pitch forks against these sweeteners?
The problem is these sweeteners have been correlated with increased appetite leading to a higher food consumption. Another line of thought is that sweet taste in the absence of calories causes people to load up elsewhere. Researchers hypothesize the psychological response to sweet taste may be linked to the calorie density of the food and that disrupting this will de-stabilize the balance between appetite control and energy expenditure. Researchers have been able to replicate this behavior in fruit flies where a sucralose heavy diet increased the overall appetite of the flies.

Conclusion
You might not have to worry a lot if you keep the consumption well within the limits. Using these to sweeten your daily coffee or the occasional soda should not be a cause of concern. However children, pregnant/nursing mothers are better off avoiding these altogether in their diet. Just do not consider these sweeteners as a panacea for your weight problems and try to replace all the sweet stuff in your diet with artificial sweetener equivalents.

Note - HYP Bars does not use any artificial sweeteners in our product variants. We use sugar alcohols like maltitol, sorbitol to sweeten our bars. These are low glycemic, sugar replacer but contribute about 2 calories per gram. You can see our product ingredient details here - https://hyprote.in/collections/all


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