Limit the use of artificial sweeteners; Health experts support the latest WHO guidance on the use of NSS (2023)

Our brains evolved to like the taste of sugar that our hunter-gatherer ancestors brought with them, and they had better chances of surviving if they had sugar, a rare food item at the time. A look at today when we have endless opportunities to experience that heavenly taste that activates the pleasure centers in our brain and causes a dopamine rush. While the naturally occurring sugars found in fruits, grains, and dairy products are relatively safe, highly processed, refined sugars put you at risk for obesity and a variety of diseases. (Also read:WHO Says “No” to Sugar-Free Sweeteners in Latest Guidance; 4 important things you should know)

Limit the use of artificial sweeteners; Health experts support the latest WHO guidance on the use of NSS (1)

That's why people with conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, or those looking to lose weight, are turning to low-calorie, sugar-free sweeteners, which appear to have positive effects on weight loss and disease prevention. From fizzy drinks, cookies, desserts to breakfast cereals, we offer a range of products that contain artificial sweeteners. Instead of controlling our sweet cravings, we indulge them and consume foods with artificial sweeteners because we think they're safe. However, according to the latest WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines, NSS (Non-Sugar Sweeteners) offer no long-term benefits for reducing body fat in adults or children, and the use of such sugar substitutes may have adverse effects, e.g. as adults there is an increased risk of type 2-Diabetes, cardiovascular disease and mortality.

What Health Experts Are Saying About Using Artificial Sweeteners

Health experts agree that the use of artificial sweeteners increases the risk of various physical and mental illnesses. Instead of helping you lose weight, they can actually lead to weight gain because they can interfere with your body's ability to control your calorie intake and lead to overeating and increased appetite. Sugar-free sweeteners also affect neurotransmitter levels in the brain, which can lead to mood and behavior changes. Research shows that they can lower levels of serotonin in the brain, a key neurotransmitter involved in controlling mood and anxiety. In addition, there is evidence of liver damage and poor gut health from overconsumption of artificial sweeteners, as well as the risk of non-communicable diseases.

Artificial sweeteners increase sugar cravings and lead to weight gain

“There are many products on the market that contain artificial sweeteners, such as B. Soda, Diet Coke, desserts, breakfast cereals and even breath mints. Artificial sweeteners are relatively safe in small amounts, but can be very harmful if consumed in excess or regularly. Harmful. They cause sugar cravings, which directly leads to weight gain and an increased appetite for similar flavors. They reduce the body's metabolic performance and lead to drowsiness and fatigue. It is necessary to label drinks and food about it Strict warning signs of the effects on the body of high consumption of artificial sugar. Also, children can easily become addicted to these artificial foods and develop strong cravings for them. Therefore, it is very important to be careful to limit consumption of artificial sugars. "Where possible, people should eliminate it from their diet and switch to sufficient natural sugars, which can also control an individual's health," said Bhawna Sharma, Nutritionist at Patiala Manipal Hospital, opposite HT Digital.

“People consume artificial sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, stevia, and erythritol because they reduce calorie intake and thereby reduce weight. However, it has been observed that frequent use or consumption of these sweeteners does not cause weight loss.” In fact, they increase the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease (heart attack and stroke), and mortality in adults. This fact has been established by the World Health Organization (WHO). Despite people's intentions to improve their health, they end up being harmed. These sweeteners can also upset the balance of the gut microbiota, leading to increased insulin resistance and its consequences. Losing weight requires a proper nutritional plan. This includes avoiding high-calorie drinks and snacks, and getting regular physical activity or exercise. Sachin Kumar Jain, Head of Endocrinology at Amrita Hospital in Faridabad.

Eat fruit, dates and carrots

“Artificial sweeteners are a double-edged sword. Aspartame (banned) is not recommended. But when taken from Stevia (plant source) it is completely safe. Because artificial sweeteners have the lowest calorie content, they help with weight loss, but only ingestion.” However, instead of artificial sweeteners, it is recommended to use natural sweeteners made from fruits, dates, carrots, etc.,” Shweta Gupta, Head of Nutrition, told us. Shalimar Bagh, Fortis Hospital.

“The World Health Organization has issued an opinion and recommendations on the use of sugar-free sweeteners that do not contribute to weight loss in the long term. On the contrary, they increase the risk of many non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. NSS (sugar-free sweeteners) have no nutritional value and there is a misconception among lay people that consuming them over a long period of time will help them lose weight. This statement was made after reviewing a large body of evidence showing that the use of NSAIDs such as aspartame, saccharin, stevia in food or drink does not reduce the risk of obesity or have long-term effects on body weight. Instead, it increases the risk of many serious problems. The hypothesis is this may be possible if you don't take sugar-free sweeteners. With dietary supplements, your cravings for sugar can decrease. The WHO says we need to reduce the sweetness in our diet overall and try to eat sugars that occur naturally in fruit instead of using sugar-free sweeteners," said Dr. Rajiv Kovil, diabetologist, president of Zandra Healthcare, co-founder of the Rang De Neela Initiative and secretary of the United Diabetes Forum, in a phone conversation with HT Digital.

“Non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) are commonly used by people to reduce their daily calorie intake and lose weight. Non-nutritive sweeteners have no nutritional value, and their use confers no long-term benefits in reducing body fat. Health - The safety issues associated with the consumption of NNS remain a topic of discussion. There are studies showing that long-term consumption can lead to changes in the composition of the gut microbiota and thus to health risks. We had some previous experiences. Offers no health benefits. however, does not cause any damage. However, after reviewing the available evidence in this regard, the World Health Organization warned against the use of artificial sweeteners, stating that long-term use could pose health risks. However, substituting NNS for natural sugars may be possible “Because they have beneficial effects on glycemic control, consumers need to be aware that long-term use of these NNS may also pose health risks. Ongoing research in this area will shed light and clarify doubts in this controversial area," says Dr. Piyush Lodha, diabetologist and general practitioner. Ruby Hall Clinic, Pune.

Harmful effects of artificial sweeteners on the body and mind

Nutritionist Sakshi Lalwani says artificial sweeteners can interfere with insulin levels and blood sugar control. She also shares with us other harmful effects of artificial sweeteners:

“Artificial sweeteners are said to be sweeter than sugar but contain no calories. This can lead to overconsumption of sweets, which in turn can lead to weight gain and other negative health effects. In addition, some studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may be linked." "Your risk of type 2 diabetes is increased because they impair insulin levels and blood sugar control," Lalwani said.

In addition to the possible negative effects on body weight and blood sugar regulation, studies have shown several other harmful effects, Lalwani said:

1. Cardiovascular Disease Risk:Some research suggests that consuming artificial sweeteners may increase the risk of certain cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack, stroke, and high blood pressure.

2. Digestive Problems:Artificial sweeteners can interfere with the proper functioning of the digestive system, leading to issues like bloating, gas, and diarrhea.

3. Increased Risk Of Depression:Several studies have shown an association between the consumption of artificial sweeteners and an increased risk of depression, thought to be due to effects on brain chemistry and serotonin levels.

"It is important to note that while some studies indicate these harmful effects, they are not all consistent and none of these potential concerns have been definitively confirmed," Lalwani concluded.

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