Monday, 23 April 2012

Should You Sweeten Up?

Pin It Now!

I was inspired to write about this very topic today, after I looked at the latest issue of ‘Grazia’.  Doesn’t ‘Cheryl’s killer body’ look toned and fabulous?  If I can look half as good for summer, then I will be thrilled.

Every now and then, I too succumb to artificial sweeteners.  Not that there’s anything wrong with them.  After all, the British Dietetic Association reports that sweeteners such as saccharin, aspartame and sucralose are not bad for you and are safe for human consumption.  See their foods fact sheet on

Sweeteners can be useful, particularly if you have been diagnosed with diabetes or simply want to curtail any extra calories from drinks.  It appears that it’s currently acceptable and safe to choose ‘diet’ version of drinks or to add a sweetener to your morning coffee. 

Yet something nags me.  What about the power of sweeteners on your body and mind?  Does drinking a large glass of ‘diet’ coke trick your body into thinking that you’ve just consumed a lovely cool drink of sugary sweetness only to be later disappointed by the deception?  Does this make you feel dissatisfied, disillusioned and desire sugar ever more fiercely?

Did you know that an American study in 2005 showed that those who consumed artificially sweetened drinks were more likely to gain weight than those who consumed naturally, sweetened soda?

A small body of evidence confirms that the brain responds differently to ‘sugar’ and artificial sweeteners.  It’s probable that satisfaction is out of reach with the deceptive sweetness. 

In contrast, another study showed that women surprisingly begged for more and progressed to increase their overall intake of calories during the day, after drinking a normal sugary drink.  Men on the other hand, remained unaffected after consuming both sugar and artificially sweetened drinks. 

How good is the evidence?  Very conflicting, yet it’s no secret that refined sugar itself is possibly addictive.  Repeated consumption releases feel good hormones; opiates and dopamine, which encircle you into its addictive potential.

Wouldn’t you agree that you occasionally experience that intense desire to eat or drink something sweet?  Mouthfuls or a glass later, you feel good and yet you want more.  Would you have had the upper hand if you had held firmly onto that glass of Sprite zero? 

Perhaps in small amounts, artificial sweeteners really are not that bad, but what’s this I hear about associations with brain cancers and bladder cancer? 

Saccharin, one type of artificial sweetener was initially banned in Canada for this very reason.  Subsequently, the link to bladder cancer was isolated to male rats, not human.  Relieved yes, but how should we perceive the rest of the sweeteners?

In my opinion, choose water or diluted naturally sweetened drinks as much as you can.  The occasional use of artificial sweeteners or the glass of ‘diet’ drink may do no harm, but let’s wait to see what the growing body of evidence reveals in the future.

I wonder what Lord Sugar would say?  'Sweeteners, you're fired!'

Please comment below, I love, read and really look forward to all of your comments!


  1. I am addicted to artificial sweeteners. I really need to kick this habit!

    Ive been told, im not sure if this is true, the body dosnt know how to process these chemicals and stores it as fat anyways. Is that right?

  2. Love your blog.. You are so my kind of thinking!!

    1. Thank you! Enjoying your blog posts too. Look forward to seeing more :)