Artificial sweeteners are not found in nature, these sweeteners contain fewer or no calories. They are typically used as a replacement for sugar in processed foods.
Table below is adopted from the Institution of Functional medicine lists the most common sweeteners in United States and their common associated brands.
|Artificial Sweetener||Associated Brand Name||Found in|
|Combined in products with other artificial sweeteners for a more sugar -like taste|
|Advantame||Baked goods, processed foods|
|Instant tea, coffee, powdered drink mixes, pudding, soft drinks, yogurt, chewing gum|
|Neotame||NewtameⓇ||Baked goods, processed foods|
|Baked goods, candy, canned fruit, jams, salad dressings, soft drinks, chewing gum, lip gloss, mouthwash, pharmaceuticals, toothpaste, vitamins|
|Sucralose||SplendaⓇ||Baked goods, frozen dairy desserts, fruit juice, gelatin, soft drinks, chewing gum|
|Baked goods, processed foods and soft drinks|
|Tagatose||NutrilatoseⓇ||Milk, ice and dairy products|
Food manufacturers began developing artificial sweeteners and marketing them as healthy alternatives to refined sugars in early 80’s. The FDA endorses the safety of artificial sweeteners, but there is a lack of high quality evidence based research on humans to encourage their use.
Of the main concern is their potential harm in the body, they have been linked to attention deficit disorders, birth defects, headaches, IBS, IBD, seizures and some form of cancers. For this reason consumption of artificial sweeteners is not recommended for pregnant females or children.
Recently use of artificial sweeteners have been linked to parthenogenesis of overactive bladder and lower urinary tract dysfunction.
Another concern about artificial sweeteners is how they affect the body and brain’s ability to gauge how much has been eaten. Providing sweetness without calories confuses the body’s normal digestive process. This can led to intense food cravings, overeating, storage of extra calories as fat and metabolic disease and disorders.
Stevia is marketed as a natural no calorie alternative sweetener. It is made from the plant Stevia rebaudiana, but packaged stevia and other sweeteners made with stevia aren’t always 100% natural. To make it shelf stable manufacturers include additives and fillers. To be sure you are getting 100% pure and most natural form, choose brands with only single ingredient: organic stevia leaves.
As a final note it is always safe to choose a balanced diet rich in whole foods and minimal inclusion of processed foods and additives.
- IFM tool kit – artificial sweeteners
- Neurourol Urodyn. 2017 Apr;36(4):876-881. doi: 10.1002/nau.23149.
- Artificial sweeteners. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks/artificial-sweeteners/
- Hitt MM. The evolution of the Sugarcoated American Food Market and the paradox of Artificial sweeteners. http://thesis.honors.olemiss.edu/698/1/MMH%20Final%20Thesis.pdf
- Shankar P. Ahuja, Sriram K.Non-nutritive sweeteners: Review and update.Nutrition. 2013;29(11):1293-9