Artificial Sweeteners–WHY Are They Still Around?

artificial sweeteners and diabetes

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Who’s buried in Grant’s tomb?  Why did the chicken cross the road?  Why are we still using artificial sweeteners?

All timeless questions that never seem to have the right answer.  Artificial sweeteners were initially used with the premise of cutting calorie intake and fighting off weight gain and diabetes.

They were never designed to actually improve the taste of food, candies and snacks.  Think about it–did you actually LIKE the taste of artificial sweeteners right off the bat?  Most that I’ve talked to say it’s a taste you have to get used to.  Why would you continue to take in a chemical that you have to “get used to” unless you believed there was some positive benefit to your health?

The belief that the use of artificial sweeteners was good for your health was continually promoted by doctors, massive marketing campaigns by the chemical companies that produce them and national organizations like the American Diabetic Association.  The brainwashing went on for decades and still continues.

It was so powerful that, despite mounting evidence that these chemicals PROMOTE the very things they were supposed to protect (diabetes and obesity), artificial sweeteners are still found everywhere you turn.

And the manufacturers have been getting very sneaky at putting them in products.  Terms like “low sugar,” “low carb” or “zero calories” can be your first clue.  But sometimes the approach is way more devious.  You may see on the front of the container for some drink that it is advertised as “no artificial flavors” and think that it’s ok.  But buried in the ingredient label, however, is that sneaky little sucralose chemical.  All of the wording on these products is very, very carefully chosen to deceive you.

So why the Rant?  Because there is yet another article looking into how artificial sweeteners contribute to obesity and diabetes.  In this particular article, researchers looked at the effects of artificial sweeteners on the gut bacteria in mice.  Here’s what they found:

  • Artificial sweeteners creates prediabetes by making changes to the types of gut bacteria as well as the way they function.
  • These artificial sweetener changes are blocked by antibiotic treatment.
  • Once the artificial sweeteners change the gut bacteria, transferring the bacteria  into another mouse will lead to prediabetes.
  • The researchers identified these same changes to the gut bacteria and risk of diabetes in humans.

This is not the first study to link changes in gut bacteria to artificial sweetener use.  Combine this with mounting evidence that gut bacteria may play a critical role in the development of obesity and diabetes and you’ve got a time bomb ticking.  Our kids are being fed artificial sweeteners like candy (pun intended) and parents, in general, are oblivious to the dangers posed by their use.

Even more subtle is the exposure of our kids to artificial sweeteners by well-meaning parents who don’t diligently label shop.  Do you realize that almost every gum in your typical grocery stores’ checkout counter has artificial sweeteners?  Do you know that most mints have these chemicals in the ingredient labels?  Have you checked out your “weight loss drink” lately?  Many of the most popular ones (even ones offered in doctors’ offices) contain artificial sweeteners.  Your protein drink?  I’ll bet it’s got artificial sweeteners.

With all of this said, I will end this article with the same question I began it with…”Why are we still using artificial sweeteners???”


James Bogash

For more than a decade, Dr. Bogash has stayed current with the medical literature as it relates to physiology, disease prevention and disease management. He uses his knowledge to educate patients, the community and cyberspace on the best way to avoid and / or manage chronic diseases using lifestyle and targeted supplementation.