Artificial Sweeteners: Not Sweet for Your Health

Many people believe they’re doing themselves a favor by swapping real sugar for an artificial sweetener, but Dr. Mark Hyman explains why recent research suggests otherwise.

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CLEVELAND – Many people believe they’re doing themselves a favor by swapping real sugar for an artificial sweetener, but recent research suggests otherwise.

Cleveland Clinic’s Mark Hyman, M.D., didn’t participate in the study, but said it appears the sweetener, sucralose, does more harm than good.

“It’s calorie-free, but it had severe adverse metabolic affects,” he said. “It increased triglycerides, it increased insulin levels, it increased oxidative stress or free radicals, it even increased the uptake of glucose into the cells which is really not what we want. All of these things lead to pre-diabetes and Type 2 diabetes.” 

Dr. Hyman said more research is pointing to the harms of artificial sweeteners.

One study linked these chemical sugar substitutes to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes.

Another study showed changes in gut bacteria that may promote inflammation and lead to obesity.

So, he recommends thinking twice before using artificial sweeteners to satisfy a sweet tooth.

“The body is a completely complex biological organism and when you’re putting in these altered chemicals they have effects – they have instructions that they give to your metabolism, to your brain chemistry – to make you eat more, to make your body store fat, to make you actually have higher levels of inflammation, and to alter your gut flora,” said Dr. Hyman.  “Even though they have no calories, they still have consequences.” 

Dr. Hyman suggests adding real sugar to food or drink instead of artificial sweeteners.

He said it’s best to make an effort to stay away from artificial sweeteners and processed foods where sugar is added during manufacturing.

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