Getting Real: Artificial vs. Real Sugar

If you’re trying to make the switch to eating healthier, you may be reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet by swapping out real sugar for artificial sugar. In theory going to a zero calorie, sugar free sweetener versus natural table sugar makes sense since “sugar is bad for you”. And if you love your daily sugary coffee, it only seems natural that you’d go for a pink, blue or yellow packet versus natural table sugar.

But, many people aren’t aware that not only are artificial sweeteners pumped full of chemicals, they can also play tricks on your mind and body. So, you could be hurting yourself more than helping.

Offsetting the Benefits
By replacing real sugar with artificial sugar, some may think it’s ok to splurge or treat themselves to other sugary items like cake or ice cream, according to Dr. David Ludwig, an obesity and weight-loss specialist at Harvard-affiliated Boston Children’s Hospital. This can offset the benefits and add even more calories into one’s diet.

Studies have shown that people who regularly use artificial sweeteners may find naturally sweet foods, such as fruit, less appealing and unsweet foods, such as vegetables, unpalpable. In other words, using artificial sweeteners can make you shun healthy, filling and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value.  

Additionally, consuming artificial sugar in large amounts increases blood glucose, insulin levels and even the risk of diabetes. This might be the most shocking given people use artificial sweeteners to help prevent these in the first place.

Artificial Sugar = Craving More Sugar
Believe it or not, by consuming artificial sugar your body may crave even more sweets which can lead to over indulgence, taking in more calories and gaining more weight. Participants in a San Antonio Heart Study found that people who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese versus those who didn’t drink diet pop.

What’s more—according to Harvard Health, “animal studies suggest that artificial sweeteners may be addictive. Studies of rats who were exposed to cocaine, then given a choice between intravenous cocaine or oral saccharine, most chose saccharin.” Pretty scary, right?

If you’re trying to kick your sugar habit or find a healthier way to incorporate it into your daily lifestyle, consider using good sugar alternatives such as dates, raw honey or pure maple syrup. And remember, living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean “giving up all the bad stuff”. It’s all about moderation and baby steps.

Want to get real about other food topics? Check out our other Getting Real blog posts.

Reviews (1 comment)

  • Joy Plassman On

    I already know the news about artificial sweeteners. I would have appreciated a section speaking to natural sweeteners like organic Stevia and agave.

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