When I first started to “get healthy”, I was all about sugar-free, fat free, low-carb, low-calorie – you name it. The first mistake I made was treating my sweet tooth to fake sweets. Rather than have a simple piece of dark chocolate, I would eat a sugar free Dove chocolate, or make a dessert out of Splenda. I thought it was the best trick ever!
It’s these types of instincts we have when trying to reduce sugar or when a doctor tells us we are in the pre diabetic range and need to watch our sugar and carbs. Correct, these artificial sweeteners may not have the impact on our blood glucose as we are testing it in that moment. HOWEVER, what we don’t realize is what is happening behind the scenes and the longer term impact of these chemicals.
Everything we are putting in our mouth is either beneficial to our body, or potentially harmful. The way a product is marketed as “diabetic friendly” or “sugar-free” doesn’t account for the likely replacement chemicals or fake food ingredients that are used to attempt to make it taste good.
- Artificial sweeteners can actually raise your blood sugar. Studies have shown artificial sweeteners change your gut bacteria, resulting in a rise in blood sugar levels. (AS and Gut Bacteria)
- Artificial sweeteners can initiate an insulin response. Your GI tract and pancreas detect sweet foods and drinks and respond by releasing insulin. Research has found that artificial sweeteners may affect metabolism, even at very low doses & regardless of whether there are calories involved. (insulin response to AS)
- Artificial sweeteners will cause you to crave more sweet things. Sugar cravings and sugar dependence increase with repeated exposure. Similarly, the more salt you eat, the more you crave. Alternatively, one can argue eating many vegetables can train a flavor preference for vegetables. Protein for protein, fat for fat, etc.
- Artificial sweeteners may actually cause weight gain. Sweet taste enhances human appetite, no matter the source. Aspartame has the most profound effect, according to the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine. (AS and weight gain)So when your doctor tells you to watch your sugar, please realize that replacing it with the fake stuff will not fix the issue and can even make it worse over time.