Artificial sweeteners, also known as sugar substitutes or non-nutritive sweeteners, have been a topic of debate regarding their effects on health. Some people believe they are a healthier alternative to sugar, while others argue that they might have negative health consequences. Below is a summary of the pros and cons, along with supporting references for each argument.
Weight management: Artificial sweeteners are low in calories or calorie-free, which can help individuals manage their weight by reducing overall calorie intake (1).
Diabetes management: Non-nutritive sweeteners have minimal impact on blood glucose levels, making them a suitable option for people with diabetes who need to control their blood sugar (2).
Dental health: Unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners do not contribute to tooth decay or cavities (3).
Potential weight gain: Some studies suggest that artificial sweeteners might increase appetite and cravings for sweet or high-calorie foods, potentially leading to weight gain (4).
Metabolic effects: Some research indicates that consuming artificial sweeteners may be associated with negative metabolic effects, such as glucose intolerance and increased risk of type 2 diabetes (5).
Gut microbiome: Artificial sweeteners may negatively affect the gut microbiome, potentially causing imbalances that contribute to metabolic and digestive issues (6).
Rogers PJ, et al. Uncoupling sweet taste and calories: comparison of the effects of glucose and three intense sweeteners on hunger and food intake. Physiol Behav. 1988;43(5):547-552.
American Diabetes Association. 4. Lifestyle Management: Standards of Medical Care in Diabetes-2018. Diabetes Care. 2018;41(Suppl 1):S38-S50.
Bowen WH, Pearson SK. The effects of sucralose, xylitol, and sorbitol on remineralization of caries lesions in rats. J Dent Res. 1992;71(6):1166-1168.
Yang Q. Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. Yale J Biol Med. 2010;83(2):101-108.
Suez J, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature. 2014;514(7521):181-186.
It is essential to note that the effects of artificial sweeteners may vary from person to person, and further research is needed to better understand their long-term health implications. Individuals should consult with their healthcare provider to determine the best approach for their specific needs and health goals.