Do you drink diet soda? What about other drinks with artificial sweeteners? This year, it might be a good idea to resolve to drink less or stop drinking them altogether. Why? Artificial sweeteners are horrible for you. The most famous, aspartame, is present in thousands of food products. Americans consume around 5,000 tons of it every year. And it’s affecting our health.
Many people drink diet soda because they want to lose weight and cut out sugar, but the fact is that artificial 0-calorie sweeteners can actually cause weight gain. They basically trick the brain. When we taste something sweet, our body prepares to metabolize it, but once the it learns we’re not actually consuming sugar, it gets confused. This throws off how the body metabolizes other calories, which can lead to more stored body fat.
Artificial sweeteners may also harm your gut health, which is essential to your overall well-being. 80% of the immune system is found in the gut, so when your gut is messed up, your whole body suffers. A study showed that a type of E. coli bacteria, which in appropriate levels is part of a healthy gut flora, struggled to grow and reproduce when exposed to six of the most common artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and Splenda. An unbalanced gut flora can cause issues like chronic inflammation and autoimmune disorders like arthritis, lupus, celiac’s, and more.
Convinced that you should avoid artificial sweeteners? Be on the lookout for these ingredients in your drinks and food products:
- Acesulfame potassium
- Neohesperidine dihydrochalcone
What can you drink instead? There are drink alternatives that use natural 0-calorie sweeteners like stevia, xylitol, and erythritol, but those can still cause weight gain, because like artificial sweeteners, their taste tricks the brain into preparing for more calories. If you’re just interested in cutting down sugar and not eliminating it completely, start looking for brands that use less in their products or release unsweetened variations. You’ll definitely see positive changes as time goes on.