Our Standard American Diet (SAD) is promoting addiction to sugar and artificial sweeteners. While added sugar in our diet is also extremely detrimental to our health (this requires a completely different blog post), artificial sweeteners affect our bodies in a very unique way. Artificial sweeteners can be found in many different forms. Look for sucralose, saccharin, erythritol, aspartame, neotame, acesulfame K and acesulfate potassium. They are also found under the brand names of Nutra Sweet, Splenda, Equal and Sweet’N Low. They are everywhere! Even your Bud Light Lime Mang-O-Rita, Raz-Ber-Rita and Straw-Ber-Rita contain artificial sweeteners.
Saccharin first hit the market in 1879 when a Johns Hopkins University chemist spilled a chemical on his hands. Later while eating he noticed a sweet taste and discovered what we know today as saccharin. In World War I this artificial sweetener gained popularity because of sugar shortages. In 1957 Sweet N’ Low was marketed as an alternative to sugar and from that point on there was an explosion in the artificial sweetener market. The 80’s and 90’s seem to be the hey day of artificial sweeteners as the advent of highly processed convenience foods rose in popularity. In this same time period there were conflicting studies on the safety of these sweeteners. What is irrefutable, however, is that the obesity rate in this country rose along the same curve as our use of artificial sweeteners rose. Undoubtedly there are several contributing factors to this concurrent rise but I can’t help but think that this was an important factor in that rise. So why does the use of artificial sweeteners promote obesity?
Artificial sweeteners trick you brain into consuming more calories. Normally when you consume something sweet the taste buds on your tongue signal your brain that you are consuming something good for you like fruit because that has been the case for hundreds of years of evolution. The brain then sends signals to your body to eat more. When we have eaten enough our bodies then send a signal to our brain to suppress our appetite. Our bodies are pretty amazing this way until we mess with it! With artificial sweeteners our brain stills gets the signal that we are eating something sweet. Our brain sends the signal to increase calorie consumption but the second half of that hunger stimulation/suppression cycle doesn’t occur. Because we are not consuming any calories our brain never gets the signal to stop therefore the result is overeating. You end up craving sweets, eating more food than you should and gaining weight. It is a vicious cycle that I would rather stay out of personally. Take a look at a few short videos for further explanation http://nutritionfacts.org/2013/05/09/how-to-gain-weight-on-diet-soda/ or http://nutritionfacts.org/video/neurobiology-of-artificial-sweeteners/. Messing with mother nature is never a good idea. Instead get your sugar in naturally occurring foods like fruit. Your body will thank you!