Daily Archives: June 1, 2011

Artificial Sweeteners, Ersatz Sweet, Dangerous Poison

For several years I had been substituting artificially sweetened beverages and food for the things I really wanted. I recall first drinking a diet soda pop sweetened with saccharine in the late 60s and thinking: Yuk! Saccharine was the only artificial sweetener in common use back then; gaining popularity in World War II when in Europe and to a lesser degree in the U.S., sugar was heavily rationed.  Saccharine which is 300 times sweeter than sugar was accidentally discovered in 1879 by two scientists at Johns Hopkins University. Saccharine was in the few existing diet sweetened products of the time, but has  a bitter after taste, at least for most palates, so did not rise to the level of popularity that Equal and Splenda have enjoyed.  In the 1950s, concern arose that saccharine might cause cancer, which led to introduction of the long popular SweetnLow, a cyclamate sweetener, and this was put into the first diet soda in 1953, NoCal.   But, like saccharine, there is an after taste many find unpleasant. Cyclamates and saccharine, often used in conjunction, were used in many products like toothpaste and lipstick.  Then the new miracle sweetener aspartame (it is 200 times sweeter than sugar) came along, and was approved by the FDA in the early 1970s. Here was a sweetener that tastes sweet,  just like sugar, without the awful after shock. Equal, as it was first marketed, was like a dream come true for people like me looking to cut back on sugar.  We should have known that if a thing seems too good to be true,  it very likely is.*

Another sweetener, acesulfame potassium ( about 200 times sweeter than sugar), marketed as Sweet One, was discovered by scientists looking for a cancer drug; it has been used with other sweeteners in a variety of products, and was re-popularized by Suzanne Somers in her diet books and products.

Aspartame enjoyed the better part of three decades without much competition, until sucralose (which is 600 times sweeter that sugar), marketed as Splenda, came along. Splenda, unlike aspartame can be used in cooking without affecting the taste.

Notice how these artificial sweeteners have gotten ever more potent? We have to wonder what that does to the brain.

What many people are beginning to discover with the help of people like Gary Taubes, a science writer, is that the brain is reacting to these sweet tastes in a couple very bad ways. First, this excessive sweetness dulls our palates for the ordinary sweet tastes. Second, the artificial sweetener, the ersatz sugar, is giving the brain the message that real food is coming. So when no nutrient comes along, the brain begins to pester us further to bring on the food. We in effect are set up to crave even more, and as studies are showing, eat more in the long run. We create a self-perpetuating cycle of feeling hunger, turning to faux foods artificially sweetened, that do not satisfy the brain/body, and so we crave even more. What a merry-go-round of misery.

Further, to add to all the rest of the problems,  aspartame is thought to cause many problems, including problems in the brain’s functions. (More on this later.)

The only real answer to stopping the incessant cravings for sweets is to eat good foods, low in carbohydrate, abstaining from all sugars and sweeteners.

Yours in learning,                                                                                                                            Sugarbaby