Sugar or artificial sweetener? Pick your poison


by Ashley Kadlubar, RD

Mar 10, 2016

Since the dawn of the 1950s, the war on sugar has left more confused than enlightened as the FDA approved the use of saccharin as the first artificial sweetener. After 65 years of evolving science, one might think a clear answer would emerge. But even the recent New York Times article has the pot stirring with heated debate from both sides.

Let’s look at the facts.

The Truth About Sugar

Moderation is not something the American diet is well known for. The average adult consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day!

The recommendations from the American Heart Association are to limit added sugars to less than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men per day.

On a more heartbreaking note, the average child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar daily.

Sugar, in the added form, isn’t natural to our diet. It sneaks in through products that are often associated with being nutritionally inferior, yet are consumed in high amounts. This increased intake is why added sugar is so strongly linked to overweight and obesity.

Excessive added sugars can also cause inflammation and damage to artery walls, with studies showing added sugars to almost double ones risk of heart disease.

While artificial sweeteners have been accused but not found guilty of causing cancer, sugar is guilty as charged! Eating too much sugar can trigger intestinal cells to increase activity of proteins that can make normal cell immortal, a key step in the early stages of cancer progression.

The Hidden Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

An increasing amount research links artificial sweeteners to weight gain. Studies associate this affect on enhanced appetite, contributions to sweet cravings as a result of being up to 600x sweeter than regular sugar, and confusion within the body’s natural mechanisms for regulating calorie intake.

Artificial sweeteners in the short term do not raise blood sugar. However, long term research is finding these sweeteners create enough confusion in the body to stimulate the release of insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar. Increased insulin release over time causes resistance and glucose intolerance.

Emerging science of the gut is showing harmful affects by artificial sweeteners, leading to imbalances of the gut bacteria. These imbalances are linked to glucose intolerance.

Confusion settled, right? Probably not. If you’re asking which one of these is best for you, you’re asking the wrong question. It’s not which one you chose, it’s the dose. Both have zero benefit in our diet, while each carry potential health risks that need to be taken into consideration. Whichever one you chose, white, pink, blue or yellow, less is more. For help understanding what moderation is when it comes to sweets, consult with a dietitian in your area.

About the Author

Ashley is a registered dietitian at the weight loss surgery center at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center – Grapevine.

We make it easy.

Healthcare doesn't have to be difficult. We're constantly finding ways to make it easy so that you can get Better and stay that way.

Better tools make it easier

We all have different healthcare needs. Handle them your way with the MyBSWHealth app. Download the app today and take a hands-on approach to your healthcare.

Text Better to 88408