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Calgary, AB / 587-437-3197 / jenna@simplynurtured.ca

2016 by Jenna Lessner 

  • Jenna Lessner, BSc, CHNC

The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

Updated: Feb 13


How can diet soda be bad for me? It’s marketed as a diet product; therefore it should be great for those looking to watch their waistline… Right?! No, contrary to popular belief, the artificial sweeteners found in diet soda have equal to or even greater consequences to your overall health than sugar! Artificial sweeteners add the sweet taste to foods, beverages, and many other products without calories; however artificial sweeteners are unsafe for consumption as they have been linked to several conditions such as weight gain, cardiovascular disorders, neurological conditions and infertility.

The most common artificial sweetener on the market is aspartame, a known neurotoxin, that has been proven to be unsafe for human consumption. Aspartame is not a food source, it’s a chemical derived in a laboratory. Aspartame is comprised of three components: phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol. When consumed in the alarming high doses found in diet soda and other foodstuffs, aspartame causes the excessive firing of brain neurons and potential cell death. Women who are nursing or pregnant should avoid artificial sweeteners as children under 12 months of age have an underdeveloped blood-brain barrier, that is designed to protect toxic substances from entering the brain. Furthermore, methanol, a component of aspartame, specifically breaks down into formaldehyde in the body, which is a known carcinogen that interferes with DNA replication and causes birth defects. Current research has also found that the consumption of diet soda negatively impacts embryo quality as well as the implantation rate. Thus, the presence of artificial sweeteners in our diet may affect the chances of conception.

In addition to negatively affecting our fertility, artificial sweeteners have been detrimental to our overall health since they were introduced into our diets. Obesity has also been linked to a decrease in reproductive health and a 2015 survey revealed that 26.7 % of Canadian adults are obese. This staggering figure propels an entire industry in weight loss gimmicks. Artificial sweeteners lead the way in weight-loss advertising. A Harvard School of Public Health (2013) study determined how artificial sweeteners increased the body mass index (BMI) of 47 % of the participants. The consumption of drinks and foods with artificial sweeteners often creates a mindset of cognitive distortions. Like sugar, artificial sweeteners can activate the reward centers in the brain that regulate the appetite hormone, leptin. However, artificially sweetened products are devoid of the calories required for energy. This lack of calories signals a greater production of leptin resulting in increased cravings and the consumption of higher-calorie foods. According to Dr. Meghan Azad, a University of Manitoba Professor, individuals who consumed artificial sweeteners were more likely to be a risk of metabolic syndromes or excess body fat around the midsection. One would expect that a low-calorie sweetener would aid in weight loss and weight management. However, the opposite effects have been proven.

Weight gain is often associated with cardiac conditions; artificial sweeteners also contribute to an increase in cardiac conditions. A ten-year study was completed by the University Of Miami and Columbia University linking the consumption of artificial sweeteners with health changes. Participants were initially surveyed on their consumption habits of “diet drinks,” then annually they were contacted to discuss any health changes. The participants who consumed artificial sweeteners daily were more likely to have had a stroke, heart attack or had died from vascular disease. According to an article published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition women, in particular, are substantially more susceptible to coronary heart disease when consuming artificial sweeteners regularly. Artificial Sweeteners are also in several popular electrolyte drinks designed for athletes. However, Dr. Russel Blaylock believes artificial sweeteners have the potential to lead to sudden cardiac arrest in athletes.

A stroke can be a completely debilitating illness. Studies have shown that drinking one diet soda daily compared to individuals who consumed less than once a week, increased their risk of a stroke by 2.96 times. Aspartame is the most widely known artificial sweetener. It also accounts for more than 75 % of adverse reactions reported to the FDA’s Adverse Reaction Monitoring System. Aspartame Disease has become widely recognized to describe the many reactions including headaches, dizziness, attention difficulties, memory loss, slurred speech and vision problems. Since aspartame was introduced, brain tumours rates have risen dramatically. The correlation between artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame, and neurological conditions is absolutely terrifying.

Artificial Sweeteners are in our food, our drinks and even our toothpaste. Numerous studies have proven the harmful health effects of artificial sweeteners. It is evident that the addition of artificial sweeteners in our food chain has had negative implications on our fertility and the health of our nation.

Your Top Artificial Sweeteners to watch out for:

  1. Aspartame

  2. Sucralose

  3. Acesulfame K

  4. Saccharin

  5. Xylitol, Sorbitol

Artificial Sweeteners can be found in:

  • Toothpaste & mouthwash

  • Chewable vitamins

  • Cough syrup

  • Chewing gum

  • Zero-calorie drinks

  • Alcoholic drinks

  • Salad dressings

  • Frozen desserts

  • Yogurt


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