In response to America’s growing panic over its expanding waistline, “lite” and “diet” products have flooded the market, using alternative sweeteners.. These products range from diet sodas to diet desserts like cookies or puddings to “lite” yogurts and they have been well-marketed, appealing to those who are seeking to whittle down their weight and get healthy.
However, increasing evidence is coming to light that this “diet” products do not help people to lose weight. What’s more, they can often lead to weight gain and specifically to weight gain around the abdomen, which is associated with serious conditions like metabolic syndrome, heart disease and diabetes. And there are other dangers, too, such as the ones discussed below.
Of all the artificial sweeteners out there, is it arguable that aspartame is the most dangerous – or, at the very least, aspartame is the artificial sweeteners which researchers have the most damaging evidence about. It has been linked in several studies on laboratory animals to several different kinds of cancer, including lymphoma. It also is believed to have a detrimental effect upon the immune system and has been implicated in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and even Alzheimer’s disease and the development of brain tumors. (1)
This product is marketed as an “all natural” syrup and does, in fact, derived from the agave plant. However, the marketing for this is not being strictly honest. Most of what is sold as agave nectar has actually been highly processed and some people believe it might even be worse for the body than high fructose corn syrup. This is because the fructose levels are actually higher. While high fructose corn syrup ranges around 55% fructose, agave nectar can be as high as 97%! Fructose breaks down more quickly in the body than many other forms of sugar and has been associated with abdominal obesity and insulin resistance. (2)
This group includes sorbitol or xylitol and these sugar alcohols are popular because while they are not calorie-free, they do have far fewer calories in them than sugar does. However, the way these sugar alcohols work is that they are not able to be absorbed very easily by the body. This is why if too much of a product with sugar alcohol is consumed, the result can often be abdominal pain, gas and bloating and diarrhea. The body’s system simply does not know how to do deal with these sweeteners and that alone should be warning enough to give them a miss. (3)
The truth is that following a low-sugar diet or using small amounts of truly healthy sweeteners like honey (which does have many minerals, vitamins and enzymes in it as well as fructose) is much healthier than either table sugar or any of the artificial sugar substitutes which promise health and weight loss but only lead to greater problems than the ones they are trying to solve.