Dangers of long-term usage of artificial or non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) include the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer. In addition, the WHO warns against using artificial sweeteners to control body weight or reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases.
NSS is commonly used in the food industry as a sugar substitute for people trying to manage their weight. They are designed to provide a sweet taste without the added calories of sugar. However, the long-term use of artificial sweeteners has been linked to various health risks.
The World Health Organization warned against the long-term use of artificial or non-sugar sweeteners (NSS) to control body weight or reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases. But, the recommendations do not apply to individuals with pre-existing diabetes.
Artificial Sweeteners and Weight Management
Artificial sweeteners are popular for people who want to manage their weight. Low or no-calorie alternatives do not raise blood sugar levels, making them an ideal sugar substitute for people trying to lose weight. However, the long-term use of artificial sweeteners has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer, gall bladder disease, and mental illness.
Artificial sweeteners include cyclamates, acesulfame K, aspartame, neotame, advantame, Saccharin, stevia, sucralose, equal, and derivatives.
Using NSS is not useful in long-term weight control or decreasing body fat in adults or children based on WHO’s recommendation on 280 studies involving adults, pregnant women, and children.
Common Types of Non-Sugar Sweeteners and Their Health Risks
Artificial sweeteners are aspartame, sucralose, Saccharin, and acesulfame potassium. Each of these sweeteners has its unique health risks.
As an illustration, aspartame has been associated with headaches, dizziness, and mood changes, while sucralose has been linked to digestive issues such as bloating and gas. Additionally, Saccharin has been linked to an elevated risk of bladder cancer, and acesulfame potassium has also been associated with increased cancer risk.
Potential Dangers of Prolonged Use of Non-Sugar Sweeteners
Consuming non-sugar sweeteners beyond the recommended amount or for an extended time can negatively affect health. One of the most significant dangers of prolonged use of artificial sweeteners is their impact on blood sugar levels.
Artificial sweeteners do not provide the same level of satisfaction as natural sweeteners, which can lead to overeating and weight gain. Studies have also shown that the long-term use of artificial sweeteners can negatively impact gut health, leading to digestive problems and weight gain.
Negative Effects of Non-Sugar Sweeteners on Gut Health
Non-sugar sweeteners can negatively impact gut health by altering the gut microbiome that protects humans against diseases and helps digest food. The person’s gut health is essential for overall health because the digestive system breaks down food and absorbs nutrients.
Studies have shown that the long-term use of artificial sweeteners can alter the balance of bacteria in the gut, leading to a decrease in beneficial bacteria and an increase in harmful bacteria. This effect can lead to digestive problems such as bloating, gas, and diarrhea. Additionally, using artificial sweeteners can lead to increased appetite and overeating, which can further disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut.
Furthermore, the negative effects of artificial sweeteners on gut health can also lead to weight gain and poor blood sugar control. A disrupted gut microbiome can increase inflammation linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.
The long-term use of artificial sweeteners can negatively affect gut health, leading to various health problems. To prioritize one’s health, be mindful of the potential risks that may arise and make informed choices accordingly. Opt for natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup in moderation. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can help promote a healthy gut microbiome and overall health.
Link Between Artificial Sweeteners and Cancer
Some studies have suggested that there may be a link between the long-term use of artificial sweeteners and cancer. However, studies on the relationship between artificial sweeteners and cancer have produced mixed results. While some studies have identified a correlation between artificial sweetener consumption and certain types of cancer, like bladder cancer and brain tumors, other studies have none.
The National Cancer Institute states that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that artificial sweeteners cause human cancer. Yet, people must be aware of the potential risks of consuming artificial sweeteners for an extended period.
Alternative Options for Weight Management
The research on the long-term effects of NSS is still ongoing. Researchers must conduct more studies to understand the risks of artificial sweeteners fully.
Overall, the best sweetener is no sweetener at all. There are alternative options for weight management, like maple syrup or honey. But, consumers can still use it in moderation as a sugar substitute. A balanced diet and regular exercise are also effective ways to manage weight and promote overall health.
People who want to lose weight should consider natural sweeteners like fruits or unsweetened beverages, a balanced diet, and exercise.
Written by Janet Grace Ortigas
The New York Times: World Health Organization Warns Against Using Artificial Sweeteners; April Rubin
World Health Organization: WHO advises not to use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control in newly released guideline
ABC News: Trying to lose weight? Avoid sugar substitutes, the World Health Organization warns; by Katie Kindelan
Featured and top image by J. Hendron Courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons License
First Inset Image by Eric Molina Courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons License
Second Inset image by Marco Hamersma Courtesy of Flickr – Creative Commons License
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