What are Artificial Sweeteners and Why are They Bad for Us?

What are artificial sweeteners and why are they bad for us?

It seems like, nowadays, there are more sugar substitutes out there than we know what to do with. With food and drinks manufacturers desperate to attach a “sugar free” or “diet” label to their products, the rise of artificial sweeteners has been astronomic.

But what exactlyare artificial sweeteners? And are they good or bad for us? Let’s find out.

Artificial sweeteners are essentially synthetic sugar substitutes. Some may be derived from naturally occurring substances, but heavy processing and refinement mean they become artificial. 

Artificial sweeteners tend to taste much sweeter than sugar itself, because they’re incredibly concentrated. This means you only need to use a tiny fraction of artificial sweetener compared to sugar when sweetening a product. It also means they tastepreetty gross if eaten alone… which you’ll know if you’ve ever tried dipping your pinkie finger in your packet of Splenda and licking it, just to see what it tastes like (we’ve all been there). 

Common artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin, and acesulfame-K, add virtually no calories to your food, so are theoretically an attractive option for those on a diet or watching their weight. 

But, while many promote their use for weight loss and managing conditions such as diabetes, other experts have found related health risks that may make you think twice.

Recent studies from the Sorbonne Paris North University and the French Network for Nutrition and Cancer Research found that, out of a group of 100,000+, participants who consumed the most artificial sweeteners had a 13% higher risk of developing cancer compared with those who didn’t consume artificial sweeteners.

Others have claimed that artificial sweeteners can:

  • cause flare ups for those with sensitive stomachs
  • worsen gut health
  • cause headaches
  • bring about agreater risk of developing diabetes
  • lead to increased appetite, thus weight gain.

It is important to note that, as it currently stands, research results are not unanimous. While some scientists do claim causality, others say these findings are observational or coincidental. More research is needed to evaluate the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners on different populations.

Regardless, if you’re trying to avoid processed foods and eat as clean as possible, it seems like small amounts of regular sugar or natural sweeteners, such as monk fruit extract, may be your best options to satisfy those late-night cravings. Happy snacking! 

P.S.: unlike most breads on the market, ROYO breadbagels and buns are made with NO artificial sweeteners. Cos we love you, and your bodies.