It remains fairly common for people to believe they are choosing the ‘healthier’ option when reaching for a diet soda instead of the regular one, but research has been surfacing over the past few years which suggests consuming artificial sweeteners might not be the best idea either. Of course, this does not mean that we should return to regular sodas instead, as the amount of sugar found in these drinks is literally deadly; sugar represents a major contributing factor in the prevalence of multiple chronic diseases which continue to plague the Western population.
Non-caloric artificial sweeteners (NAS) are the most widely used food additives in the world, and they are considered safe despite the concerns that have been raised by multiple studies.
Last year, a strong case was made by a team of scientists in Israel, who concluded that ingesting artificial sweeteners might lead to obesity and multiple ailments that are related to obesity, like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, gout, and some cancers.
The study noted the obesity link in animal models (mice), and it was not the first to to find evidence that, as Scientific American, “the sweeteners appear to change the population of intestinal bacteria that direct metabolism, the conversion of food to energy or stored fuel. And this result suggests the connection might also exist in humans.” (source)
“These NAS-mediated deleterious metabolic effects are abrogated by antibiotic treatment, and are fully transferrable to germ-free mice upon faecal transplantation of microbiota configurations from NAS-consuming mice, or of microbiota anaerobically incubated in the presence of NAS. We identify NAS-altered microbial metabolic pathways that are linked to host susceptibility to metabolic disease, and demonstrate similar NAS-induced dysbiosis and glucose intolerance in healthy human subjects. Collectively, our results link NAS consumption, dysbiosis and metabolic abnormalities, thereby calling for a reassessment of massive NAS usage.”
You can access the study here.
So many studies use animals to conduct their research in spite of the fact that this isn’t always necessary, and often quite cruel. For this particular study, researchers fed 10-week old mice a daily dose of aspartame, sucralose, or saccharin. Another group of mice were given water that was laced with one of two natural sugars (glucose or sucrose). After just 11 weeks, the mice who were fed the artificial sweeteners had “abnormally high” blood pressure, which is “an indication that their tissues were having difficulty absorbing glucose from the blood.” (source)
Although scientists agree that this data is very compelling, they believe it is too soon to conclude with one hundred percent certainty that artificial sweeteners cause metabolic disorders.
Other Research That Spells Bad News For Artificial Sweeteners
We have published a number of articles that present research showing the various concerns that are associated with artificial sweeteners. For example, one of the largest studies of its kind recently examined the link between diet drinks and cardiovascular issues. 60,000 women participated in the study, and it found that women who consumed two or more diet drinks a day are 30 percent more likely to experience a cardiovascular event, and 50 percent more likely to die from a related disease. (source)
“This is one of the largest studies on this topic, and our findings are consistent with some previous data, especially those linking diet drinks to the metabolic syndrome.” – Dr. Ankur Vyas, a Fellow in Cardiovascular Disease at UI Hospitals and Clinics, and the lead investigator of the study (source)
You might be thinking that “correlation doesn’t mean causation,” which is a valid point, but when scientists examine studies like the ones cited above (which represent only a few of many such studies), they generally refer to the Bradford Hill Criteria. For anybody who has thoroughly researched the potential dangers of artificial sweetness, there is, in my opinion, definitive cause for concern.
For example, take the first study mentioned in this article, which referred to the possibility that artificial sweeteners could be causing us to become sick and fat, and as a result take on a number of obesity related diseases. Now look at the one cited above — cardiovascular events are related to obesity… see what I mean? If you do the research and examine dozens of studies, you will see there are multiple connections and consistencies, as well as inconsistencies, to be discovered.