Should You Choose Real Sugar or Artificial Sweeteners?
This is a highly debated topic in today’s world of health and wellness. There is still much research to be done and many of the affects of these artificial sweeteners remain unknown. What we do know is that the most used artificial sweeteners deliver a psychological response to our brains that is between 150 and 1000 times anything that can be found in nature like sucrose or fructose naturally occurring in fruit. To me, that fact alone is enough to assume these products are unsafe and not a long term solution to weight loss.
We as humans still use the same biological signals today that our ancestors did thousands of years ago. The problem is that now “foods” we consume are pumped full of added sugar to trigger these pleasure sensors in our brains, but they are stripped of their dietary fiber and nutrition. Not only are we not getting the nutrition from these fake foods, but we are lighting up these pleasure sensors in our brains triggering the release of dopamine. The release of dopamine is a normal function of the brain and is perfectly natural, however when we overload our pleasure sensors with a substance that is 150-1000 times more powerful than naturally occurring sugar we only want more more more!
The draw to artificial sweeteners is that they are low or no calorie. I believe that this is only a short term solution to weight loss. If we consume artificial sweeteners instead of real sugar we are going to get cravings that are impossible to resist because of what they do to our brains. Release of dopamine is addictive and substances as powerful as sucralose (Splenda) will create a response that leaves us wanting more and won’t stop until we get it! So what does this mean for long term health and weight loss? It means we may lose a little bit of weight in the beginning by choosing diet coke over regular coke, however 1 diet coke a day becomes 2, 3, 4 and so on. Then on our way home from work we pass a bakery and dopamine is released when we think about the taste of sweets so we pull in just for one cookie. Regardless if the cookie is made with artificial sweeteners or real sugar, the fact remains we will not be able to resist the craving. The cycle continues until we start choosing foods that affect the brain the way it was meant to be affected which is a message of appropriate strength to the brain when we taste something sweet like naturally occurring sugar in fruit.
My recommendation would be to avoid the artificial sweeteners. Not even getting into the possible carcinogenetic effects and links to obesity, cancer, and Alzheimers because the research isn’t yet conclusive, I believe that artificial sweeteners will not help with weight loss over the long term and will actually lead to weight gain. With cravings impossible to resist and a psychological addiction to the sweet taste we will only end up consuming more of the wrong foods. Choose naturally occurring sugar like fruits if you need something sweet. Anything that affects the brain in the way that some of these artificial sweeteners do is a red flag and should be avoided.