Carbohydrates are not as bad as you think, if you are responsible. Artificial sweeteners raise your blood sugar levels and corrupt digestive processes. Research studies cite evidence “that the gastrointestinal tract and the pancreas are capable of detecting sweet foods and drinks and respond by releasing hormones, such as insulin, and add other alien microorganisms to digestion.
Carbohydrates may be better for you than artificial sweeteners like Equal, NutraSweet, and Splenda. Possibly natural sweeteners may also do more harm than good. These sweet subs may alter your digestive system, interfere with immune system, and raise triglycerides (part of your heart bloods serum panel) toward a diabetic diagnosis.
According to scientific research at Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science, artificial sweeteners may induce artificial diabetes type-2 symptoms from those that habitually use them. While high weight might be a factor, the intent to reduce carbohydrates through artificial sweeteners in food and beverages touted as “sugar-free” or “diet” or “0 calories” may make you sicker.
The US Food and Drug Administration approves artificial sweeteners. As food additives, six high-intensity artificial sweeteners are FDA-approved as food additives in the United States: saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), sucralose, and less popular neotame, and advantame.
Stevia is considered a natural leaf and is not an artificial sweetener. It is natural and added to juice beverages such as Tropicana 50. As of May 2016, the FDA has not approved Stevia as an additive. Among some concerns noted by the FDA include possible effects including the control of blood sugar and effects on the reproductive, cardiovascular, and renal systems.
Marketing may be blamed for this. Products once touted Nutrasweet (aspartame) and Splenda (sucralose) under cooperated branding arrangements. Then there is a less common additive artificial sweetener that shows up in many products. Acesulfame potassium is a calorie-free sweetener that has been used in foods and beverages around the world for 15 years. The ingredient, which is 200 times sweeter than sugar, has been used in numerous foods in the United States since 1988. All these are artificial sweeteners, now often masked in ingredient lists of our foods.
Chemically, all these artificial sweeteners begin with carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. These 3 element components create carbohydrates as sugars:
Carbohydrates (also called saccharides) are molecular compounds made from just three elements: carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Monosaccharides (e.g. glucose) and disaccharides (e.g. sucrose) are relatively small molecules. They are often called sugars. Carbohydrates are natural energy sources, compounds found in fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
Artificial sweetener, Sucralose is somewhat similar to a carbohydrate molecule but it adds chlorine to the formula as C12H19Cl3O8. The addition of chlorine no longer classifies Sucralose as a carbohydrate under food nutrition panels.
Nutrasweet, another artificial sweetener is the chemical Aspartame, also begins as a carbohydrate type molecule but adds Nitrogen to create C14H18N2O5 that also can not be classed as a carbohydrate.
Aspartame’s three components are phenylalanine (50 percent), aspartic acid (40 percent), and methanol (10 percent). When aspartame is exposed to heat or prolonged storage, it breaks down into metabolites. One of these breakdown products is Diketopiperazine (DKP), a toxic metabolite that is not usually found in our diet. The effects of these different metabolites are unknown.
Ever popular artificial sweetener, acesulfame potassium, really messes with the original carbohydrate molecule by inserting both nitrogen and potassium, along with Sulphur, into the formula C4H4KNO4S. Added to “flavored waters” and some “naturally flavored sodas”, this artificial sweetener is touted as 200-times more sweet than carbohydrates.
Sucralose is made with chlorine. Nutrasweet uses Nitrogen. Sulfame potassium uses Nitrogen, Potassiun and Sulphur. These molecules, unlike carbohydrates, do not naturally occur or balance as part of your natural digestive processes.
In a New York Times editorial review, the authors cited that early animal experiments of 20 years ago reported dangers of artificial sweeteners over carbohydrates. Recent studies that, indeed, too much dietary carbohydrates seem to result in higher diabetes incidents in a population. New York Times article seems to give artificial sweeteners a sweeter outlook.
“One of the most appealing aspects of artificial sweeteners is that they are non-nutritive — they have virtually no calories. In contrast, each gram of regular table sugar contains 4 calories. A teaspoon of sugar is about 4 grams.”
What they seem to ignore are the nutrition panels found om most food packaging. New FDA regulations in 2016 revised nutrition panels to offer information on added carbohydrate sugars. Nothing has been added to indicate artificial sweeteners nor their content within the food product. Artificial sweeteners are non-nutritive even though they are present.
American Diabetes Association suggests artificial sweeteners for use to suppress urges for sweetness. Per Israeli study, some artificial sweeteners may actually elevate blood sugar levels.
Fundamentally, the attempt to control calories and satisfy a sweet tooth seems simple with artificial sweeteners but chronic dependence and use result in some some very nasty side effects. As far as body weight loss is concerned, there is virtually contradictory evidence that artificial sweeteners help weight loss over time.
Carbohydrates are natural and simple. They have been part of our main food groups for thousands of years. Our bodies thrive on them for energy. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for minimum carbohydrate intake, as set by the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board, is 130 grams per day. 200 grams is satisfactory if you are marginally active and up to 500 grams per day if you are very active. Problem is that many people eat 500 grams or more carbohydrates each day. The excess carbohydrate calories metabolize into fat.
When you mix carbohydrates with fats from healthy oils or from unhealthy sources, you are layering it on. Even excesses of lean proteins metabolize into fat when unused by you and your body.
Using natural carbohydrates requires work and daily responsibility.
Simple carbohydrates are sugars. All simple carbohydrates are made of just one or two sugar molecules. They are the quickest source of energy, as they are very rapidly digested.
Some food sources of simple carbohydrates:
Sweetened coffee beverages
Processed breads, rolls, bagels
Complex carbohydrates may be referred to as dietary starch and are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a coil. As these are complex, they metabolize slower, providing longer, more steady energy. They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting. Complex carbohydrates are commonly found in whole plant foods and, therefore, are also often contain sources of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals. These whole plant foods are great sources of complex carbohydrates:
Whole grains and foods made from them, such as oatmeal, pasta, and whole-grain breads
Starchy vegetables such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, and pumpkin
Beans, lentils, and peas
Nuts (carbs and fats)
American Diabetes Association suggests that 25-30 grams of daily intake should be fiber. Fiber is subtracted from sugar carbohydrates to calculate net carbohydrates. To calculate net carbs, first subtract all of the insoluble fiber (if listed) from the total carbs and total fiber. If more than 5 grams of total fiber remain, you can also subtract half of the remaining fiber from total carbs.
Managing a carbohydrate diet requires sticking to servings and serving sizes. There are carbohydrate calculators that help you maintain stable weights, according to activity. Use also helps you plan slow, gradual, weight loss.
Because carbohydrates are nutritive, they are associated with dietary calories. Calories come from two energy sources: carbohydrates and fats. It takes about a 3200 calorie loss to lose 1-pound of weight.
Our history has consisted of nutrients from carbohydrate, fats, and proteins. They tasted good to us. With reduced activities, especially at night, managing the foods we eat help us stay healthy. For example, nuts and meats have fats but no carbohydrates and dietary servings of these may help manage weight.
Artificial sweeteners help take most of our food choice possibilities away. They are complicated compounds that might develop strange body reactions, Artificial sweeteners are marketed short-cuts leading to believe that we are reducing calories and carbohydrates. We really aren’t. They are not countable.
Healthy weight management is a responsibility. Habits help make people fat and weight loss require habits that are difficult to adapt. Carbs and fats are addictive. A concerted effort is necessary.
Proper food management from natural energy sources – carbohydrates in the morning and proteins at night – (as needed) are what the body mechanisms require. They require small servings – generally a handful.
There are nutritional supplements, particularly chromium and cinnamon that help interfere with carbohydrate metabolism. They are called carb blockers. These supplements may be available with or without prescription.They are called Amylase Inhibitors. Their role is to prevent starches from being absorbed by the body. When amylase is blocked, those carbs pass through the body undigested, so you don’t absorb the calories.
The research on efficacy of these is limited. I view carb blockers as cheating, unless you are edging towards Diabetes 2 or pre-diabetes. People do need calories and carbohydrates. Is it a route to help manage carbohydrate intake? I don’t know.
Artificial sweeteners are totally un-natural means and can potentially be harmful.
Healthy weight and energy management, without artificial sweeteners or radical short-term gimmicks, often requires visits with a registered or certified nutritionist to help personalize your needs and goals. Many may accept your health insurance coverage.
There are few short-cuts that offer long-term benefits. Use of artificial sweeteners is not one of them. For information about using carbohydrate blockers, speak with a nutritionist.