The truth about artificial sweeteners: are they really that bad?
Fizzy drinks get a bad press, but do they need to be completely cut from your diet?
"Artificial sweeteners are even worse than sugar". If you had a pound for every time those words were said, you could probably afford to buy Sheikh Mansour out of Manchester City.
Everywhere you look, it seems that the artificial sweeteners found in soft drinks are taken to be toxic. Most of these claims do not stand up to science.
Why do artificial sweeteners receive such negative press?
Diet soft drinks are unquestionably healthier than the sugary kinds. That said, there is still a belief among many that artificial sweeteners are toxic.
Aspartame is the most common artificial sweetener found in soft drinks, and it's this which is routinely linked to health problems.
For example, Channel 5's 2013 documentary 50 Shocking Facts about Diet and Exercise suggested that aspartame could cause cancer.
The dose makes the poison
In order for artificial sweeteners to genuinely threaten your health, you'd have to knock back an insane number of soft drinks.
You're looking at around 500 cans before things start getting toxic. Are there even that many on sale in the supermarket? If so, good luck getting them past the checkout. And this is before you'd get to crack open a cold one.
Did you know there are traces of recreational drugs on banknotes? And that there are traces of faecal matter in many cereals?
There are 'traces' of nasty substances in almost everything you eat and drink, but they only become a danger when the dose is too high.
What does the science say about artificial sweeteners?
Recent research busted three of the most common myths surrounding artificial sweeteners. The British Medical Journal published a review into 56 studies on the topic.
It was found that sinking a sweetener did not lead to:
- Weight gain
- Increased hunger
- Conditions such as cancer
Are there any real side-effects?
The biggest issue with diet soft drinks is psychological. If you're consuming a calorie-free drink, it may cause you to overeat on food.
However, if you take the time to prep your meals beforehand you can manage your food intake while still enjoying a diet soft drink or two (if that's your preference).
Soft drinks can also cause dental erosion if you drink too many, so keep a lid on how much soda you're sinking. But the odd can or two pose little danger to your health or physique.
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