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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Sweet Poison - How artificial sugar substitutes may add to your weight

I wrote this for another blog some time ago. As I have now completed almost four weeks of sweets, cakes, biscuits and chocolate free life, I thought I should share why I have not opted for sugar substitutes, especially the artificial ones. There are many more studies on the effects of such sweeteners but the Purdue one is written in easily understandable language. If you think that this might be helpful to others, please share.

Artificial sweeteners are one of my blue light topics and have been for many years. I fought battles with my husband because he thought that "low sugar" diluting juice was better for our son than natural fruit juice. He has now come round to my way of thinking after reading some of the studies.

It has long been known that so called "low cal" diet drinks, laced with aspartame, are linked to weight gain. When I work with clients who wish to lose weight, one of the first things we address is their carbonated drinks consumption. Many are clearly addicted and consume vast quantities throughout the day. Then they wonder why they have acid reflux and a constantly uncomfortable digestive system.

One of the things that astonish them is when I tell them that if they have to drink it at all, they should chose the real thing over the diet version because at least then they would not be endangering their health to the same degree. I give them a copy of an article on research showing that those who drank the low cal version put on substantially more weight than those who drank the real thing. There is clear evidence that the consumption of diet drinks leads to weight gain in many people. The "real thing" is also damaging, just not nearly as much!
So it hardly comes as a surprise to me that the same is true of artificially sweetened foods. You can't fool the body. It knows that it has been cheated. You deliver the taste of sweetness without the download of the corresponding calories and there is confusion. The body responds by demanding more calories - real ones this time, please.
The other aspect of artificial sweeteners is my own personal observations of behavioural change in small children. One of the things that first disturbed me about them was watching the impact they had on our son when he was a toddler. He was normally a very calm little boy who played peacefully with his toys and never had a tantrum. After an artificially sweetened drink, he would become hyper. Definitely to be avoided.
What do you drink instead? Water! You don't like it? Get to like it. It is so good for you. Most adults wander around in a semi-dehydrated state because they do not drink enough water. We pour copious amounts of caffeine laden drinks down our throats and wonder why we spend so much time pouring it back out again. Caffeine is a diuretic - it encourages your bladder to make more urine. The end result is dehydration. The solution is .... water.
The occasional carbonated drink is fun and refreshing - if it is a daily part of your life and more than one can a day, you are courting trouble. If it is the diet version, you are playing Russian Roulette with your health and none of the barrels of the gun are blanks.

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