It appears that those sugar substitutes such as Aspartame and Saccharin may actually cause us to gain weight by triggering certain receptors in the brain that signal our appetite. Real sugar signals the brain that it has consumed calories to satisfy our appetite. (Appetite January 1, 2012, Volume 60, Pages 203-207).
Our bodies are conditioned to use sugar in a way to benefit the body by providing it with energy and calories. By switching to these artificial sweeteners our brains are not sending the proper signals to our body, which means the body not only believes it is being starved (by getting no calories) but also the sweetness triggers other receptors in the brain that make us crave more sweets. The more artificial sweeteners we use the more our body seems to crave sweets, which tends to make us reach for more snacks causing more weight gain. If we don’t realize this is happening, we can get trapped in a vicious cycle! (Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.) 2008;16:1894–1900)
Another study performed recently shows that these sugar substitutes also may be changing the composition of our gut juices. This study shows that over a period of time the bacteria in our stomach tends to break down through excessive usage of artificial sweeteners. This bacteria is directly related to how our bodies process natural sugars and by changing this bacteria we are actually causing conditions such as diabetes and directly correlate to increased obesity. (Nature 514, 181–186, 09 October 2014)
What all this boils down to is that by consuming drinks and desserts produced with a sugar substitute, we are seeing the opposite effect of what we are using them for in the first place. Our bodies are made to utilize natural sugars. By replacing them with artificial chemicals, we are putting our health at risk – we aren’t losing the weight we want, we are feeling less energized, and we are less able to cope with day to day stress.
So what should you do? Well, I would first suggest you use only natural sweeteners, such as honey and sweeteners made from natural fruit juices. You should avoid products that have added sugar as well as artificial sweeteners. At first you might not like the “plain” taste of foods that have no added sugar or artificial sweeteners, but after a while your body will adjust to this and you’ll actually find yourself tasting the subtle nuances that sugar and sweeteners were masking in foods and drinks. You should definitely reduce or completely eliminate soft drinks from your diet and replace them with nutritional fruit and vegetable drinks or water.
If you are looking to lose weight, start your day off right with a good healthy breakfast consisting of natural grains and fruits. Avoid store-bought cereals and breakfast bars, which tend to have added ingredients that could be detrimental to your health and weight. Walk as much as you can to burn calories. Walking is a great way to lose weight, but as a society we have become reliant on our cars and public transportation. I’m talking about a nice brisk walk to the grocery store or over to a friends house. If it’s only a couple of miles then leave the car at home and walk, you’ll find it not only helps you in losing weight, but it also makes you feel good! And most importantly, eat sensible meals with natural ingredients and stay away from those artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes!
If you must eat sweetener, use honey, fruit juice, or real sugar. Of course we want to keep our natural sugar intake down to a minimum, as its overuse can cause weight gain as well as health problems. By eating healthy and reducing your sugar intake as well as completely eliminating artificial sweeteners, you will naturally lose weight, feel better, and be healthier.