Let’s Tackle the Truth Behind Artificial Sweeteners

(Video Version Can be found on my Facebook Page – Peggy Smith Wellness; Deep Thoughts Thursday 11/8/18)

Do you ever watch a friend at a restaurant reach for either a little pink or little yellow packet and wonder to yourself? Is one of those better for me than the other? What Is the truth about artificial sweeteners? Today we are going to try to navigate through some of that confusion together!

My name is Peggy Smith and I’ an integrative nutrition health coach specializing in gut health issues. Every Thursday I offer up a few minutes of screen time in what I call Deep Thoughts Thursday. I’ll tackle a topic in the realm of food or lifestyle that might help you on your journey to optimal wellness.

Today I’m coming to you in live video for the first time. Kinda nervous about this honestly, but I’ve done over 25 videos the pre-recorded way because I’ve honestly been too chicken to do what I’m doing right now – but as they say, the growth happens when you get out of your comfort zone! So let’s see what happens!

So last week we talked about regular sugar – the natural kind in fruits and vegetable and even honey and maple syrup and all the kinds of added sugars out there and how those calories behave in our bodies. We talked a little bit about the potential problems that comes from having too much added sugar in our bloodstream and why choosing natural sugar in the form of fruits and vegetables is always your best bet.

Today I want to tackle for a few minutes the topic of artificial sweeteners. It’s a no wonder we are all confused by the little packets because there has been controversy about them since they were first introduced. It was so interesting to learn that the first artificial sweetener – saccharin was discovered accidentally in 1897 by a researcher looking into new uses for coal tar derivatives! He forgot to wash his hands before lunch and tasted something sweet on his hands and discovered that this derivative of coal tar is 300 times sweeter than sugar!! (And if the coal tar derivative part isn’t making your skin crawl, how about the fact Monsanto got it’s start as a company selling saccharin!)

The derivative was being widely used by 1907 but then was eventually banned in 1912 for being possibly toxic. That decision was reversed during WW1 when sugar rations led to the “necessity” of adding it back to our food supply. But once the war was over and ever since then, saccaharin (and it’s newly developed kissing cousins Aspartame and Sucralose) have continued to be used and are now included in more foods and products than we likely realize.  Did you know artificial sweeteners aren’t just in the usual suspects of sodas and baked goods. They are hiding in cough syrups, chewing gums, salad dressings, no calorie waters, breakfast cereals, prepared meats and the list goes on.

So what is the real scoop on these products since they are being added to so many things we consume?

You guys know, if you’ve followed me at all, that I am all about REAL food and in my opinion these products are the exact opposite of that. They have been manufactured to trick our taste buds (with the claim of that being worth it to lower our calorie consumption). But the question really becomes whether the lowering of calories through these products is really making a long term difference in weight management or not? And even if it was proven to be doing that, would it be worth risking the side effect issues that have been linked to the use of them?

Instead of helping us manage our sugar consumption, what many studies have shown us is that artificial sweeteners actually heighten our addiction to overly sweet foods. Our taste buds want sweeter and sweeter foods because that is what these substances are – WAY sweeter than natural sugars. What you might recognize from that restaurant scene I mentioned in the beginning is that person who orders the diet soda or adds the artificial sweeteners to their beverage might also be the person who orders the sweetest dessert on the menu. A couple things might be contributing to that – first, the psychology of the fact that some calories have been spared in my beverage so I deserve to have dessert, but also the real biology of the fact that the artificial sweetener didn’t provide any real sense of satisfaction of fullness but it amped up your craving for something sweet.

And you know, because I am so in love with your amazing microbiome, that I’m so so worried about what impact these chemicals are having on your gut! Studies have shown they can intensify gut inflammation in those with sensitivity to them and while people might argue there isn’t concrete evidence to show a direct correlation between gut health and artificial sweeteners my hunch is its just a matter of time before they do prove that link and since we can be certain there isn’t any benefit derived for our gut from artificial sweeteners, I think it’s in the best interest of our friendly gut bacteria that we always choose the natural sugar that comes from fruits and vegetables so we are getting those fibers down into our large intestine that make them jump up and down for joy!

When we eat the natural sugars we avoid the long list of potential side effects associated with artificial sweeteners. Side effects like anxiety, mood swings, headaches, memory loss, acne, migraines, skin rashes, bladder problems!

So let’s all make a pact that we are going to look for these substances hiding in the things we consume and think twice about the impact they might be having on our wellness. If you are currently regularly consuming food or beverages (or vitamins or toothpaste) with artificial sweeteners, try knocking one off the list at a time. Lower your body and minds addiction to these overly sweet substances and see if you notice any nagging health complaints start to improve.  I’d love to hear your success stories!!

Until next time friends –


XO – Peggy





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