Many of us know that too much sugar in our diet is not healthy, so we have cut back on sugar. If you are like us here at ProcuraMed, you may have switched more to artificial sweeteners. But is this the best approach?
A new study from Canada casts doubt on that. Here we first discuss this new research on sweeteners, and that they actually might lead to weight gain. And then we suggest a way to deal with sweeteners in general, without turning back to adding more sugar.
Canadian artificial sweetener research
The study, just published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, was a “meta-study”, in which the researchers analyzed 37 previous studies (totaling 405, 907 people) on how artificial sweeteners affect our bodies. They combined the results to reach their grand conclusions.
The people who consumed one or more artificially sweetened beverages per day were actually slightly MORE likely to gain weight, develop high blood pressure, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and have cardiovascular “events” (such as heart attacks), than people who did not use sweeteners.
Researchers call such results “counterintuitive” but that’s what the analysis showed. Does this mean we should go back to sugar? No. But first, why could sweeteners, with no calories, possibly cause us to gain weight?
Why artificial sweeteners might be unhealthy
Fortunately, many other studies have been done essentially proving that sweeteners do NOT lead to cancer, as some people might think. However, if this current study is correct, sweetener use does NOT help people lose weight.
Various other recent studies have raised cautions about a possible association between sweetener use an weight gain, but this Canadian study is the largest. Scientists are not sure why this is true. Further studies are in progress to understand why, but here are the top theories:
- Sweetener use changes the bacterial microbiome in our gut which somehow causes us to absorb more calories
- If we use sweeteners, we might feel we are being good so we can splurge on other calories
- Sweeteners may actually increase our craving for sweet foods
- Sweeteners change how our bodies metabolize sugars
What to do about sweeteners
Going back to sugars is not a good plan. The lead author of the study, Dr. Meghan Azad, from the department of pediatrics at the University of Manitoba in Canada says, “I used to be a person who put Splenda in my coffee every day,” she says. “Now I just use milk.”
Do we have to give up everything?
Make your own decision, but we here at ProcuraMed are, drop by drop, slowly cutting down on our use of sweeteners. Sodas we have mostly already cut out. We also use sugar in reduced quantities. Nobody is perfect, and—as many people say, life is not worth living if you have to give up everything. We just do the best we can to minimize the unhealthy things in life, and maximize the healthy things, like exercise and good food.
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)