New studies in accelerated aging link elevated sugar intake with a process called glycosylation -proteins in our bodies morph into AGE’s, or advanced glycosylation end-products, a kind of metabolic debris that collects in our organ, joint, and skin tissues.
Long-term sugar intolerance leads to type 2 diabetes and other complications like obesity and inflammation. Drinking more than one soda a day raises your risk of serious weight gain by 80%.
If it’s a natural food, why is sugar so hard to digest? Again, it’s the sheer quantity not the substance itself that causes concern. Studies show that our bodies actually work harder in sugar’s afterburn to restore metabolic homeostasis.
So is it any surprise that we’ve turned to artificial sweeteners for answers? For women trying to stay healthy, artificial sweeteners can seem like the best of both worlds — sugar without calories. But there simply is no free lunch. Artificial sweeteners can be just as troublesome, with one exception: sugar addiction — those of us who simply cannot stop eating sugar once we start. In this case, artificial sweeteners may help short-circuit the dependency.
Aspartame and saccharin: are they safer than Splenda?
Aside from Splenda, the most popular artificial sweeteners are aspartame (and its cousin, neotame) and saccharin. Foods with these additives are marketed to women as low-fat, low-sugar, and low-calorie.
Diet programs like Weight Watchers sell low-calorie foods that trade real nutrients for artificial ingredients, including sugar substitutes. I think it’s great to try and lose unwanted weight, but I question whether these packaged items should be marketed as healthy choices. Good nutrition needs to take more into account than calories and fat content — especially when it comes to how many artificial sweeteners we’re eating and what we’re mixing them with.
Dangers in aspartame
Aspartame, the main ingredient in Equal and NutraSweet, is responsible for the most serious cases of poisoning, because the body actually digests it. Aspartame should be avoided by most women, but particularly in those with neuropsychiatric concerns. Recent studies in Europe show that aspartame use can result in an accumulation of formaldehyde in the brain, which can damage your central nervous system and immune system and cause genetic trauma. The FDA admits this is true, but claims the amount is low enough in most that it shouldn’t raise concern. I think any amount of formaldehyde in your brain is too much.
Aspartame has had the most complaints of any food additive available to the public. It’s been linked with MS, lupus, fibromyalgia and other central nervous disorders. Possible side effects of aspartame include headaches, migraines, panic attacks, dizziness, irritability, nausea, intestinal discomfort, skin rash, and nervousness. Some researchers have linked aspartame with depression and manic episodes. It may also contribute to male infertility.
Saccharin, the first widely available chemical sweetener, is hardly mentioned any more. Better-tasting NutraSweet took its place in almost every diet soda, but saccharin is still an ingredient in some prepared foods, gum, and over-the-counter medicines. Remember those carcinogen warnings on the side of products that contained saccharin? They no longer appear because industry testing showed that saccharin only caused bladder cancer in rats. Most researchers agree that in sufficient doses, saccharin is carcinogenic in humans. The question is, how do you know how much artificial sweeteners your individual body can tolerate?
That being said, some practitioners think saccharin in moderation is the best choice if you must have an artificially sweetened beverage or food product. It’s been around a relatively long time and seems to cause fewer problems than aspartame. I don’t argue with this recommendation, but I encourage you to find out as much as you can about any chemical before you ingest it.