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I have this faded memory of my mother from back in the 1970s when she used aspartame as a sugar substitute to help her lose weight. She would add it in our food and it always gave it an “off” taste. Aspartame was later found to be linked to some kinds of cancers. Sadly, my mother did pass away from cancer in 1978. While there have been various studies challenging the cancer connection claim, recent studies have once again confirmed the link between aspartame and cancer in humans. Despite this, it is still widely used throughout the world.

Using sugar sweeteners continues to be a significant tool in the battle against obesity. While cutting sugar is always a good thing, scientists are more and more aware that replacing it with artificial sweeteners is not the best answer. Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose, Splenda, NutraSweet, and even stevia have downsides, so the continued search for healthy replacements continues. Monk fruit is one good option on the horizon. Let’s look at some of the findings about these artificial sweeteners and then focus on some better options.

One of the biggest problems about artificial sweeteners is the effect it has on your gut biome — those friendly bacteria in your digestive tract that help you digest food and help keep you healthy. A new study just published in Cell scientific journal last month showed that all four sweeteners tested had effects on normal, healthy gut biome. Remember that whatever you feed yourself, you are also feeding your gut biome. Research continues to show the importance of a healthy gut microbiome in so many areas of health — not just digestion. Mental health, oral health, brain health and possibly Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

The same study showed that use of some of these artificial sweeteners resulted in spikes in blood glucose. By using artificial sweeteners, you are really not gaining much. Diabetics who are trying to manage their blood sugar are being misled. Some studies even show that using artificial sweeteners can result in weight gain.

Another problem is that your craving for sweets is not satisfied by these artificial sweeteners.   Dr. Michael Goran is one of the research scientists involved in the Cell study. He noted that “none of [the non-nutritive sweeteners] will resolve the craving for sweet taste and there are studies to suggest that habitual consumption of sweeteners increases overall daily calorie and sugar consumption.” In other words, even after consuming artificial sweeteners, your body still thinks it wants something sweet. This means that even though you had an artificially sweetened treat you are likely to still eat something else. This is indeed what some studies have shown — that people who eat foods with artificial sweeteners tend to eat more.

What do you do now that you know artificial sweeteners are not the answer? Go back to sugary treats? Of course not. The search for healthy options continues. Monk fruit extracts are an up-and-coming alternative. Stevia may seem to be a good substitute, but there is research indicating that stevia may cause problems as well. Perhaps just going back to eating healthy is the best option. An occasional treat is okay, but always in moderation.

In the meantime, there are supplements that do a great job in helping to control blood sugar issues. Berberine, chromium, and ALA just to name a few. In the right doses and along with a healthy and balanced diet, you can get your blood sugar back to the point where an occasional sweet is not going to create too many problems. Combined with a healthy diet and regular exercise, supplements can help you can regain optimal health and transform the energy and vitality of you and your family. The healthier you are, the more resilient you are. In the end, fostering that resilience in our bodies is a great way to experience our best health and our best life.



Dr. Burtis, MS, DC, CFMP, has been providing natural healthcare to the Fairmont area at Burtis Chiropractic Center for over 30 years. He uses a combination of chiropractic, nutrition, and functional medicine to help individuals restore and maintain health and healing through individualized care plans. The mission of Burtis Chiropractic Center is to provide transformational healthcare that takes an individual’s life to the next level. We strive to be a solution for families to experience transformational healthcare and help create vibrant and resilient lifestyles that can be passed to future generations.

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