At this point, artificial sweeteners are hiding in a huge portion of the processed foods we eat.
They might seem obviously like the best option: Less sugar equals fewer sugar-related consequences, right? Increasingly, researchers are finding that if you’re replacing your sugar intake with artificial sweeteners, you might be better off just eating the sugar.
Studies have shown that intake of artificial sugars can actually increase the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
But doesn’t Type 2 diabetes develop from consuming too much sugar? Yes. This is why this result is so puzzling — after replacing their sugar with zero-calorie, non-sugar alternatives, people are experiencing an increase in negative, sugar-related side effects to their health.
Somehow less sugar equates to more diabetes risk. We are so confused.
Researchers are equally intrigued. There are a few hypotheses surrounding the psychology of diet alternatives to sugar that explain the phenomenon, though none have been clinically tested. Some experts speculate that because artificial sweeteners increase sugar cravings, consumers of these products are inclined to consume an excess of sugar and calories later on. Others consider the “virtuous” feeling consumers of artificially sweetened products report after making their “healthier” choice — a feeling that later results in overeating and indulging because “they deserve it” or “they were so good today.”
Also likely is the impact of artificial sweeteners on the way our bodies process sugar when we later consume it: They impair the body’s ability to regulate blood glucose. This would very likely relate to sweeteners’ impact on diabetes.
There are even studies that show artificial sweeteners can induce glucose intolerance, a condition characterized by a sky-high blood sugar level after eating even small amounts of sugar.
While the results are still inconclusive regarding the direct cause of the diabetes link, the evidence has pointed to this for some time: Artificial sweeteners are not good for you. Put down that diet soda, stop sprinkling Splenda in your coffee, and read your labels carefully.