Substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners is indeed a bad move!



In present situation of tension and hardships, this precious source of energy for human body known as “Sugar” is more vital than ever. However, the recent marketing highlights and misinformation around artificial sweeteners have intensified the anti-sugar movement. It is an alarming situation when people substituting sugar under the mistaken belief that adopting artificial sweeteners will be a healthier option.


Artificial sweeteners were introduced to keep people safe from the health effects of sugar. As a result, when artificial sweeteners were introduced in the market, many assumed they were safer because they had less calories. However, it is not just about calories when we eat food. Since different foods have different consequences, people should also be aware of nutritional facts about the contents.


Further researches and laboratory tests on artificial sweeteners raised various questions. Many studies claimed that Saccharin (one of the artificial sweeteners approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) caused cancer in mice during lab test. The other concerns raised were consumption of artificial sweeteners affect the gut health and digestive system.


Artificial sweeteners, also known as non-nutritive sweeteners, are made up of chemicals from a variety of chemical groups that interact with taste receptors and are usually hundreds of times sweeter than natural table sugar. Saccharin, Acesulfame, Aspartame, Neotame, Sucralose, and Advantame are the six artificial sweeteners approved by the U.S. FDA.


Artificial sweeteners are used in a wide range of foods. Since most artificial sweeteners are not metabolized by the body, they are considered safe. However, scientists disagree on the safety of “non-metabolized” compounds because their metabolites have been shown to have harmful effects in mice, rats, and dogs as per study titled “The Potential Toxicity of Artificial Sweeteners[i]” published in the Sage Journal.


There is a paucity of a research in this area that indicates ample examples of health problems caused by artificial sweeteners. Also, most of the research on artificial sweeteners have been done in western countries that were not specific to Indian context which can prove impacts of artificial sweeteners on human body.


Some recent studies in Indian context shows that consumption of added sugar in India is lower than many healthier countries in the world. A study[ii] by Thought Arbitrage Research Institute, New Delhi clearly indicates that major factors behind non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are poor lifestyle and poor environment condition. Concerning these studies, Indian consumers should be aware of the choices. A portal www.meetha.org is solely dedicated to Indian consumers for providing information related to ‘Sugar and Health’.


Sugar, on other hand, has no significant immediate harmful health effects when consumed in moderation. Many unfavourable health consequences, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, tend to be caused by weight gain which is often linked to lifestyle factors. In contrast to other kinds of carbs, no research argues that sugar is intrinsically fattening.


There is a considerable prejudice against allowing children extra sugar in the form of "sweets" and "tuck". As a result, a large proportion of children of school age is in fact suffering from a relative sugar deficiency according to a study titled “The Importance of Sugar in the Diet of the School Child” by A. Arnold Osman[iii].


Sugar, like salt, lemon, or some other component that pleases our taste buds, works as a natural flavor enhancer to your meal. Sugar is a necessary ingredient in many homemade dishes. It has nutritious value and doesn’t infuriate your taste buds. Balancing sugar intake according to taste and health is always an appropriate advice given by nutritionist. Sugar carries some health benefits such as reducing stress and maintaining energy level during dehydration. Eliminating sugar from foods lowers the diversity and taste.


To, summaries, artificial sweeteners are more hazardous than