Updated: Oct 29, 2020
The debate between sugar and artificial sweeteners has been a long-standing debate ever since the 1900’s. The first artificial sweetener, saccharin, was discovered in 1879 in a lab at Johns Hopkins University. Since then countless others including aspartame, sucralose, and Stevia have been developed. As more sweeteners were synthesized throughout the 1900’s they came under more and more scrutiny. Several studies in the 1970’s based on animal models, suggested a linkage between artificial sweeteners and cancer. These studies have mostly been disputed by follow up studies in humans.
Although a link to cancer has been refuted, this does not mean that artificial sweeteners have no impact on the body. In a recent article published by the New York Times, Marta Yanina Pepino, an assistant professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign stated, “The idea we need to get rid of is that because they have zero calories they have zero metabolic effects.” Various studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can disrupt the gut microbiome, blood sugar control, and influence glucose levels. Consuming artificial sweeteners can actually confuse the brain and the body because their sweetness signals the brain to prepare for an influx of sugar which then never arrives. This can not only disrupt the secretion of hormones such as insulin and cause glucose intolerance but also lead to a craving for sweeter foods.
For thousands of years humans did not consume overly sweet foods very often so sweet foods were actually a way to naturally regulate blood glucose levels. In modern times, sugar and artificial sweeteners have taken over the food industry and thus disrupting this. One of the best ways to get back to natural blood sugar regulation is to limit sweet foods and avoid artificial sweeteners.
For more information check out this great New York Times article: https://www.nytimes.com/.../artificial-sweeteners-sugar...