Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Weight Loss & Artificial Sweeteners

Considering the popularity today of sugar substitutes, from our favorite soda, cookies and the like, up to our breakfast coffee, and you can name the rest; this persisting question keep on lingering around, “How safe are these sugar substitutes?” A subsequent question may also arise, “Do these sugar substitutes play a role in losing weight?”

Saccharin, (Sweet'N Low, SugarTwin) discovered in 1879 and approved for use in the US on the same year has a bitter and somewhat metallic aftertaste. This was labeled as a possible carcinogen which had to carry a warning until 2000 in the US market although the risk to an individual is very low. As it is 300-500 times sweeter than table sugar, this provides no energy, as it is not metabolized by human beings. The largest population study to date, involving 9,000 individuals, showed that saccharin does not increase the risk of cancer. On December 15, 2000, the U.S. Congress passed legislation to remove the warning label that had been previously required on foods and beverages containing saccharin.

Products containing Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal) have been labeled as dangerous for people with phenylketonuria (PKU), a relatively rare condition. This was discovered in 1969 and approved for use in the US in 1981. As it is 200 times sweeter than sugar, aspartame is not suitable in applications that require high temperatures, as it loses its sweetness when heated. The amount of energy derived from it is negligible.

Acesulfame-K (Sunette) was discovered in 1967 and approved for use in the US in 1988. As it is 200 times sweeter than sucrose, this is stable when heated, making it suitable for cooking. However, when used in large amounts it has a bitter aftertaste. It is not broken down by the body, and it doesn’t provide any calories. Over ninety scientific studies have been conducted by the FDA, and the World Health Organization's Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) has also endorsed Acesulfame K's safety.

Sucralose (Splenda) bears no warning label at all; this was discovered in 1976 and approved for use in the US in 1988. This is 600 times sweeter than sugar, which is not absorbed from the digestive tract, so it adds no calories to consumed food.

There’s another one, Neotame, which was discovered in 1990 and was approved for use in the US in 2002. As it is 8,000 times sweeter than sugar, this analog of aspartame can be used in both cooking and baking applications. Although neotame is a derivative of aspartame, it is not metabolized to phenylalanine. The FDA reviewed more than 113 human and animal studies before ruling on neotame.

Some critics say that sugar substitute may in fact make people fatter by turbo-charging their sweet tooth, yet it has no hard evidence. For the purpose of losing weight, diet soda could be better than regular, but it is undeniable, water is still the best. Those favorite pastries we often ate having labels that they are made of artificial sweeteners may still high in calories if they are high in fats.

Although this food having fake sugar as we may call it, with no calories at all as it has been claimed, it is the volume quantity of the total food intake that determines in gaining weight. Some studies on rats revealed, the sweet taste of artificial sweeteners may trigger unhealthy weight gain. Being deprived of real calories, it increases food cravings creating a tendency to eat more food and become obese in just a short period of time.

How should consumers today interpret all of these? Dr. Michael F. Jacobson, a microbiologist and co-founder of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), believes there is no “slam dunk” proof that any of these artificial sweeteners are clearly dangerous or perfectly safe. He says however, “based on what we know so far … I think the sucralose is safe, that aspartame is probably safe and that serious questions about saccharin remain …”

According to surveys, each of us on average is consuming at least nine kilograms of fake sugars per annum. If we get a Big Mac or Jolibee burger with fries and Diet soda (Coke or Pepsi), surely, we still have to get fat although in a slightly slower rate. Fake sugar could not be a terrible food component; nevertheless, it is not so great for us either real-sugar or sugar-substitutes. Is any of the two can do any good? Are these artificial sweeteners a safe alternative to real sugar?


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1 comment:

coolingstar9 said...

There are so many sugar substitues. If we consume Soda, coffee in the coffee shop, we actually do not know how the shop use what type of sugar or quantity.
If we drink coffee at home, we have the choice, we can add real sugar or fake one.
How to consume sugar in correct quantity for each individual is important to health.
Thanks for your information about Saccharin-still in question, Aspartame-lose sweetness when heated up. Acesulfame-k, safety.
Have a nice week end.
From: coolingstar9