Artificial sweeteners have become a way of life for many, as individuals seek ways to reduce caloric intake to lose unwanted pounds. However, if this is such a good thing, why have obesity rates continue to rise? Through the years, the increase in the availability of sugar-free foods and beverages has correlated with an increase in weight gain among Americans.
The availability of foods with artificial sweetening agents have actually led to an increase in the number of calories that we consume. The most popular of these chemical-based sweetening agents include:
Splenda is sucralose that substitutes chlorine in the final molecule. There have been reports of stomach cramps and diarrhea after ingesting large amounts. Saccharin and Aspartame have also been cited over the years for health-related risks.
All of these artificial sweeteners are approved by the FDA. It is important to note that most of our processed foods that say "sugar-free" on the label contain one of these sweeteners. The more we consume processed foods that are "sugar-free," the more artificial agents we are ingesting.
So how much is too much? A Purdue University study that appeared in tInternational Journal of Obesity found that using artificially derived sweeteners may disrupt the body’s natural ability to count calories. Other studies
An alternative to these manufactured sweeteners is a natural plant-based product called Stevia, a sweet tasting herb that is native to Paraguay. It has been used in Japan for over 20 years with no adverse side effects. Its sweetness is naturally concentrated.
A few drops in a cup of tea is more than sufficient because of the unusually sweetening power of Stevia. A form of Stevia is also available in powdered, single-servings that can be purchased from grocery stores.
Common sense should tell us that in order to have an effective weight management lifestyle, we need to reduce our consumption of processed foods - even though that may be sugar-free. While Stevia may be a viable alternative to other forms of artificial sweetening agents, balance is the key in all things consumed.