Sugar is an essential part of life and a vital part of the human diet. It’s a source of pure energy that our ancestors found in fruit, but the evolution of our sugar intake has changed over time.
Artificial sweeteners change the body’s reaction to sugar
Artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose are FDA-approved low-calorie sweeteners that can be found in diet sodas and sugar-free sweets. While these substitute sweeteners have fewer calories, they affect how the human body and brain respond to sugar.
Non-nutritive sweeteners are far more potent than table sugar. When we fool our bodies with fake sugar, we aren’t getting the natural sugar our body craves and so it finds another way to compensate. According to Harvard Health, frequent use of these hyper-intense sweeteners can limit the body’s tolerance for more complex tastes. In turn, you may become less likely to eat foods that are less sweet, like fruits and vegetables. In the end, the calories you eliminate from your diet with artificial sweeteners may be reintroduced through less healthy food choices.
Calorie-free but not consequence-free
In a recent study, daily consumption of diet drinks was associated with a 36% greater risk for metabolic syndrome and a 67% increased risk for type 2 diabetes. And participants in a San Antonio Heart Study who drank more than 21 diet drinks per week were twice as likely to become overweight or obese as people who didn’t drink diet drinks. One theory for this is that using artificial sweeteners leads us to stop associating sweetness with caloric intake. So when the body craves more sweets, we tend to choose sweet food over nutritious food.