Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D., weighs in on the subject of artificial sweeteners . . .
At Natural Gourmet, we have been consistently adamant over the years in our opposition to artificial sweeteners for a variety of reasons. Chief among these is that artificial sweeteners, because of their sweet taste, fool the body into thinking that carbohydrates have been consumed. This triggers an insulin response in preparation for the expected blood sugar rise. When that rise does not happen, the unnecessary insulin ends up actually lowering blood glucose too far – a condition known as “hypoglycemia” – which triggers hunger and causes extra caloric intake.
What is the result of extra caloric intake? Weight gain! Have you ever noticed all the heavy people guzzling diet sodas? Diet soda does not work! This information has been available for more than 20 years. See the excerpt from New York Times NY columnist Jane Brody, and note the date!
Using artificial sweeteners as substitutes is often not a culinary possibility and may not be desirable from the standpoint of either health or weight. NutraSweet™ (or Equal™), the leading artificial sweetener, can cause untoward brain reactions in some people, who may experience such symptoms as headaches, depression, irritability and seizures.
Moreover, a study at Leeds University suggested that artificial sweeteners may stimulate the appetite. The American Cancer Society found that over the course of a year, users of artificial sweeteners were more likely than nonusers to gain weight.
As far as the “untoward brain reactions” that Brody mentions, depression is a major one – and I know a number of older people who drink diet soda and walk around gloomy and depressed. And notice that for the past 15 years or so depression has become a public health issue of almost epidemic proportion. Of course, that’s good news for the manufacturers of anti-depressants, but not necessarily for human beings. Regular exercise, exposure to sunlight without sunglasses (so that the sunlight filters through the eyes and stimulates the pituitary gland), eating whole grains, high-quality vegetables and sufficient protein, and no sweeteners of any kind would be a better approach.
In the alternative, if you want something sweet, eat pitted dates, bananas, and baked sweet potatoes – very satisfying, non-damaging, and generally healthful. Worth a try!