the binge-eating files » Sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners and other sweeteners: effects on binge eating, food addiction, obesity, and your health


Low-calorie sugar alternatives could negatively affect gut health, study finds   ABC News  (Aug 22, 2022) by Dr. Alexandria C. Wellman — Low-calorie sugar alternatives, which had previously been thought to be relatively harmless, may actually have a negative effect on human gut health, according to a new study.  All four substances tested in the study – saccharin, sucralose, aspartame and stevia – were found to change the gut microbiome, the collection of microbes in the gut that help protect humans against disease and enable us to digest food. … more

Non-nutritive sweeteners affect human microbiomes and can alter glycemic responses   ScienceDaily (Aug 19, 2022) — Since the late 1800s non-nutritive sweeteners have promised to deliver all the sweetness of sugar with none of the calories. They have long been believed to have no effect on the human body, but researchers challenge this notion by finding that these sugar substitutes are not inert, and, in fact, some can alter human consumers’ microbiomes in a way that can change their blood sugar levels. … more

Your gut senses the difference between real sugar and artificial sweetener  ScienceDaily (Jan 13, 2022) — Sugar preference isn’t just a matter of taste — it’s deeper than that. Why do mice without taste buds still prefer real sugar to the fake stuff? ‘We’ve identified the cells that make us eat sugar, and they are in the gut,’ said one of the researchers. Specialized cells in the upper gut send different signals to the brain for sugar and sugar substitute. … more

Can Artificial Sweeteners Keep Us From Gaining Weight?   New York Times (Aug 20, 2020) by Anahad O’Connor – Sugar substitutes may help stave off weight gain, but they have metabolic effects that some experts find concerning. Artificial sweeteners hold the promise of satisfying your sweet tooth without the downside of excess calories, and they are increasingly used in products ranging from diet sodas and powdered drink mixes to yogurt and baked goods. But whether using them can prevent weight gain — a problem many people are struggling with during the coronavirus lockdowns — has long been an open question. Now some studies are providing answers. … more

Safety of sugar substitutes remains inconclusive after years of research   Washington Post (May 25, 2020) by Marlene Cimons – On On a June day in 1878, Constantin Fahlberg, a research chemist conducting experiments in a Johns Hopkins University lab, sat down to eat, bit into a roll — some accounts say it was bread — and found it amazingly sweet. Because he had forgotten to first wash his hands, he assumed something he’d touched in the lab had contaminated his food. He searched his workspace, tasting vials, beakers and dishes until he found it. A beaker had boiled over, mixing o-sulfobenzoic acid with phosphorus (V) chloride and ammonia. The result was benzoic sulfimide — or, as we know it today, saccharin. Fahlberg’s discovery ushered in a burgeoning new industry that promised hope for millions struggling to lose weight, and for people with diabetes who needed to control their blood sugar. … more

A common artificial sweetener might be making you fatter and sicker, a new study says   Washington Post (Mar 10, 2020) by Laura Reiley – Sucralose in conjunction with carbohydrates may blunt the body’s ability to metabolize sugar appropriately. A study published in the journal Cell Metabolism by a group of Yale researchers found that the consumption of the common artificial sweetener sucralose (which is found in Splenda, Zerocal, Sukrana, SucraPlus and other brands) in combination with carbohydrates can swiftly turn a healthy person into one with high blood sugar. From whole grain English muffins to reduced-sugar ketchup, sucralose is found in thousands of baked goods, condiments, syrups and other consumer packaged goods — almost all of them containing carbs. … more

Diet soda by itself may not cause weight gain, study says, but combining with carbs can  CNN (Mar 3, 2020) by Sandee LaMotte –  In the black hole of bad news for diet soda lovers, there’s a tiny glimmer of light. The gloom set in when science showed drinking diet soda could lead to metabolic syndrome, a nasty mix of higher blood pressure and blood sugars that leads to weight gain and increases the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke. But a new study has found that it’s when you pair the common artificial sweetener sucralose with a carbohydrate — not the sweetener alone — that the body’s metabolism changes in a way that can lead to metabolic syndrome. … more

Are Sugar Substitutes Good for Kids? Information is limited about the long-term safety of consuming nonnutritive sweeteners. New York Times (Dec 9, 2019) by Perri Klass, MD – Even the name, “nonnutritive sweeteners,” sounds like it was invented to avoid, well, sugarcoating the issue. We used to call them artificial sweeteners; this new term is intended to emphasize that they have no nutritional content — no vitamins, no minerals, no calories, or very few (that’s the whole point). … more

Low-Calorie Sweetener Boosts Fat Accumulation in Explanted Cells   Medscape (Mar 22, 2018) by Megan Brooks – Consumption of low-calorie sweeteners may promote metabolic dysfunction and predispose people to diabetes, particularly in individuals with obesity, hints in vitro research. … more

We Finally Know Why Artificial Sweeteners Can Make You Put on Weight   ScienceAlert ( Aug 5, 2017) by Chris Pash – It’s  got nothing to do with the sugar. If you think using an artificial sweetener helps keep your weight down, think again. Artificial sweeteners combined with a low-carbohydrate diet may increase overall food consumed, according to a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism. The finding expands on previous research that explained why artificial sweeteners increase feelings of hunger when consumed chronically. … more

Low-calorie sweeteners increase fat formation, study finds  MNT Medical News Today (Apr 4, 2017) by Honor Whiteman – Many people opt for low-calorie sweeteners as a “healthful” alternative to sugar, but a new study suggests that they may not be so beneficial after all. Researchers have found that consuming high amounts of low-calorie sweeteners may promote fat formation, particularly for individuals who are already obese. … more

Artificial sweeteners: Healthy alternative or fast track to obesity?  MNT Medical News Today (July 13, 2016) by Hannah Nichols – The variety of sugar substitutes on the market to satisfy the sweet tooth of the population while reducing calorie content can often be confusing. To add to the confusion, experts have found that “diet” varieties of foods and beverages may, in fact, increase appetite. … more

Regular soda, please: Hormone that differentiates sugar, diet sweeteners could exist in humans ScienceDaily (June 11, 2015) – We’ve all been there: We eat an entire sleeve of fat-free, low-calorie cookies and we’re stuffing ourselves with more food 15 minutes later. One theory to explain this phenomenon is that artificial sweeteners don’t contain the calories or energy that evolution has trained the brain to expect from sweet-tasting foods, so they don’t fool the brain into satisfying hunger. However, until now, nobody understood how organisms distinguish between real sugar and artificial sweetener. more …

Diet soda could be linked to bulging bellies in older adults: study.   Metro Toronto (Mar 18, 2015) — Regularly drinking diet soda could impact waist size, say the authors of a study linking calorie-free colas to greater abdominal obesity in adults 65 years of age and older. The study, which was published in the Journal of American Geriatrics, is among the first to focus on the effect of artificial sweeteners in an aging population. more …

Are sweeteners really bad for us? (Jan 27, 2015) by Claudia Hammond — Many people buy diet drinks and sweeteners in a bid to reduce the amount of sugar they consume. Over the years concerns about their safety have been raised, but how much evidence is there that they’re bad for us? more …

Certain gut bacteria may induce metabolic changes following exposure to artificial sweeteners   ScienceDaily (Sept 17 , 2014) — Artificial sweeteners have long been promoted as diet and health aids. But breaking research shows that these products may be leading to the very diseases they were said to help prevent: scientists have discovered that, after exposure to artificial sweeteners, our gut bacteria may be triggering harmful metabolic changes. more …

Artificial sweeteners linked to obesity epidemic, scientists say: Drinking diet soda could cause weight gain, research suggests   CBC News (Sept 17, 2014) — Artificial sweeteners may exacerbate, rather than prevent, metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes, a study suggests. Calorie-free artificial sweeteners are often chosen by dieters in part because they are thought not to raise blood sugar levels. In Wednesday’s issue of the journal Nature, researchers report that artificial sweeteners increase the blood sugar levels in both mice and humans by interfering with microbes in the gut. Increased blood sugar levels are an early indicator of Type 2 diabetes and metabolic disease.   more …

Biological effects of the popular artificial sweetener sucralose.   MNT Medical News Today (Mar 12, 2014) – The artificial sweetener sucralose is a biologically active compound according to an extensive review published by Taylor & Francis in the recent issue of Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews. “Sucralose, A Synthetic Organochlorine Sweetener: Overview Of Biological Issues” authored by Susan S. Schiffman, PhD, an internationally known sweetener researcher and Kristina I. Rother, MD, MHSc, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), summarizes the biological properties of sucralose based on hundreds of archival, peer-reviewed scientific journal publications.  More …

The quest for a natural sugar substitute – (Jan 1, 2014) by Daniel Engber – On a Sunday evening last September, stevia became famous. In the final episode of “Breaking Bad,” an image of the sweetener filled the TV screen … The natural, noncaloric sweetener, made from the leaves of a Paraguayan shrub, now sits in second place in the $400 million market for sugar-bowl sachets. (Sucralose hangs on at No. 1.) … But the battle for the sugar-substitute market is not about packets on the table; the real money is in being the go-to additive for diet foods, especially diet drinks.   More

The disturbing link between high fructose corn syrup and honey  (Aug 19, 2013) by Dr. Charles – High fructose corn syrup, that sweet over-produced commodity of agribusinesses everywhere, has been linked in two miserable ways to bees and honey. The first discovery was made almost two years ago, and the second only 2 months ago. First, most of the “honey” available for purchase in supermarkets is not really honey, but instead an ultra-filtered impostor often produced in China, and frequently contains high fructose corn syrup. Secondly, honey-producing bees in their hives are being fed high fructose corn syrup instead of their own honey, and new research has linked this practice to colony collapse disorder.  Link

Artificial sweeteners may do more than sweeten: it can affect how the body reacts to glucose   ScienceDaily (May 29, 2013) — Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have found that a popular artificial sweetener can modify how the body handles sugar.   In a small study, the researchers analyzed the sweetener sucralose (Splenda®) in 17 severely obese people who do not have diabetes and don’t use artificial sweeteners regularly.   “Our results indicate that this artificial sweetener is not inert — it does have an effect,” said first author M. Yanina Pepino, PhD, research assistant professor of medicine. “And we need to do more studies to determine whether this observation means long-term use could be harmful.”   Link

From agave nectar to coconut sugar, sift through the specs of so-called natural sweeteners before settling   National Post (May 14, 2013) –  In a world where nutrition trends are fuelled by celebrities and talk show hosts, the average person can feel like they’re in a fog when it comes to “the next big thing” in dietary advice. In that sense, the recent buzz about agave and coconut sugar is probably about as welcome as the return of fanny packs and acid-washed jeans. Can’t we just enjoy our flaxseeds and salmon for a while? Nope — because when it comes to the cult of health and wellness, the big wheels are always turning. So, to get you up speed on the lingo before your next lunch date with a Hollywood celebrity trainer, here’s a primer on some of the hot new sugar substitutes that are taking up shelf space in health food stores these days.    Link

Artificial sweeteners tied to obesity, Type 2 diabetes: High-intensity sweetener changes metabolic responses     CBC News  (Feb 17, 2013) – Diet pop and other artificially sweetened products may cause us to eat and drink even more calories and increase our risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, researchers are learning.  Former McGill University researcher Dana Small specializes in the neuropsychology of flavour and feeding at Yale University … said there’s mounting evidence that artificial sweeteners have a couple of problematic effects. Sugar substitutes such as sucralose and aspartame are more intensely sweet than sugar and may rewire taste receptors so less sweet, healthier foods aren’t as enjoyable, shifting preferences to higher calorie, sweeter foods, she said.     Link

Harvard hospital admits it promoted weak science on aspartame   NBC News  (Oct 25, 2012)  by Robert Bazell – A new study finding a potential cancer risk from the artificial sweetener aspartame is so weak that Brigham and Women’s Hospital  — a Harvard teaching facility — is now apologizing for promoting the research. In other words, if you see a headline screaming, “Aspartame linked to cancer,” don’t believe it. But it may be too late; the situation is a great example of why the public often finds science confusing and frustrating.  Earlier in the week the hospital sent out a press release about the study with the headline “The truth isn’t sweet when it comes to artificial sweeteners.”   Link

Miracle sweetener Stevia may have a sour note   Reuters (May 23, 2012) by Sybille de La Hamaide – The meteoric rise of a natural, healthy alternative to sugar – a holy grail for the food industry – might just be a little too good to be true. In two years stevia, a plant used for centuries by Paraguay’s Guarani Indians, has shot to prominence in products by Coca-Cola, Danone and Merisant.  Encouraged by distrust of artificial sweeteners and demand for natural products, they have turned to extract of stevia, which is up to 300 times sweeter than traditional beet or cane sugar.  The problems are the aftertaste, the cost, and possible hurdles in defining it as natural in some European Union markets.  Link

Is this FDA-approved sweetener causing brain damage? (Mar. 24, 2012) by Dr. Mercola – Aspartame is the most popular artificial sweetener in the United States, but I think a more apt description would be the most dangerous food additive on the U.S. market.  Used in more than 6,000 products (often sugar-free or “diet” versions), millions of people consume this toxin, believing it to be a healthy alternative to sugar.  But people would likely stop using it in droves if they only knew the truth, which is that since its discovery aspartame has been linked to brain tumors.  And just this month, research was published in Drug and Chemical Toxicology showing yet another route by which aspartame damages your brain …  Link

Two common sweeteners have different effects on the body, study suggests    ScienceDaily (Jan. 23, 2012) — With growing concern that excessive levels of fructose may pose a great health risk — causing high blood pressure, kidney disease and diabetes – researchers … set out to see if two common sweeteners in Western diets differ in their effects on the body in the first few hours after ingestion. The study, recently published in the journal Metabolism, took a closer look at high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and table sugar (sucrose) …  Link

High levels of fructose consumption by adolescents may put them at cardiovascular risk, evidence suggests  ScienceDaily (Jan. 24, 2012) – Evidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes risk is present in the blood of adolescents who consume a lot of fructose, a scenario that worsens in the face of excess belly fat, researchers report…Fructose, or fruit sugar, is found in fruits and veggies but also in high fructose corn syrup, the sweetener used liberally in processed foods and beverages. Researchers suspect growing bodies crave the cheap, strong sweetener and companies often target young consumers in ads.  Link

High-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain, researchers find    ScienceDaily (Mar. 22, 2010) — A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.  Link

Sugar may be bad but this sweetener is far more deadly (Feb. 17, 2010) by Dr. Joseph Mercola — Study after study are taking their place in a growing lineup of scientific research demonstrating that consuming high-fructose corn syrup is the fastest way to trash your health. It is now known without a doubt that sugar in your food, in all it’s myriad of forms, is taking a devastating toll.   And fructose in any form — including high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and crystalline fructose — is the worst of the worst!   Link

New sweetener not so sweet for your diet (Apr. 17, 2009) — Stevia, an extract nearly 300 times more potent than sugar, the no-fat, no-calorie sweetener that soda and juice lovers have been thirsting for? No, say nutritionists.  Link

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