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There is nothing “Sweet” about Artificial Sweeteners and Leaky Gut

artificial-sweeteners-ibs-drautoimmune
May 26, 2022

Your habits influence your attitude, sleep, food cravings…and autoimmunity. Many of you that suspect you may have an autoimmune condition, or have been diagnosed with one, may in fact have two or more lurking within.

Have you noticed that when you eat pleasure-seeking foods such as sweets, alcohol, or caffeine (and for some, Chinese food), you want more of it shortly after you consume them? In an age of sugar-free, Keto, and every diet under the sun, where does real sugar stop and artificial sweeteners start?

Every restaurant table and coffee bar have these colorful, single-serving sized packets screaming at your taste buds, “Hey Sweet Tooth, I’m down here.” A laboratory accident turned popular over 130 years ago and the first super villain, saccharin, made its way into our food chain as a cheap and calorie-free alternative to cane sugar. Originally it was believed to be harmless, but over time, its question of safety rode a rollercoaster between science and industrial priorities.

Celebrities in the the cooking world have nothing good to say about these fake sweeteners. Colleague, close friend, and cookbook editor to Julia Child, Avis DeVoto wrote:

“Desserts, of which there is a fat section, are incredible—sweetened with saccharin [sic] and topped with imitation whipped cream! Fantastic! And I do believe a lot of people in this country eat just like that, stuffing themselves with faked materials in the fond belief that by substituting a chemical for God’s good food they can keep themselves slim while still eating hot breads and desserts and GUNK.”

To say the least, she was not a fan of this fake food and considered saccharin an empty pleasure.

When sugar became scarce during World War II, this diabetic substitute’s production ramped up. Between 1963 and 1967 artificially sweetened soft drinks nearly tripled their market share. By 1979, 44 million Americans used this sickly sweet, zero calorie alternative daily. As you can see by this chart, the rise has not slowed down, and is contributing to the obesity epidemic in America.

Chemical named by brand:

  • Acesulfame Potassium – Sunnett, Sweet One
  • Aspartame – Nutrasweet, Equal
  • Neotame – N/A
  • Saccharin – Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin, Sugar Twin.
  • Sucralose – Splenda

Nutrition is among one of the contributing leaders to leaky gut syndrome. When foods are laden with pesticides, chemicals, artificial sweeteners and colors, combined with our nutrient deficient foods, our gut is constantly under attack and is no match for these “gut busting” toxins. If our food sources can not naturally support and feed the good bacteria, the bad bacteria begin to take over. Along with a nutrient dense diet, pharmaceutical grade supplementation has become paramount in therapeutic doses in order to restore our gut balance to tackle our autoimmune risk and conditions.

The sweet taste receptor (T1R3) is activated by artificial sweeteners. At high concentrations, many of the aforementioned chemical compounds were found to increase leaky gut and degrade cell regulation. This can lead to a myriad of issues including insulin resistance and diabetes. Primarily and first most, leaky gut leads to inflammation>symptoms>autoimmunity.

What about the reportedly safe “new age” sweeteners?

  • Chicory
  • Coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple Syrup
  • Monk Fruit
  • Stevia

Although a monumental improvement in the form of nature vs lab, sugar in any form can spike your blood sugar and cause imbalances if consumed frequently (have you heard about devices which monitor your blood sugar?).

Grandma always said, “everything in moderation”. Unlike natural sugars including honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar, stevia may be the lead in this cast of best choices for a sweet alternative, touting that it remains neutral in your bloodstream, and has a reduced calorie intake and low risk of cavities.

It has been reported that stevia could interfere with good bacteria in the gut, a strain on your kidneys or other organs, and/or possibly lower blood pressure, which could interfere with those on high blood pressure medications. There are always two sides to every story, and there isn’t enough research to conclude its downfalls. Just another reason to see an integrative or functional practitioner to get to the root cause of your tummy troubles.

The bottom line is: eat as close to the farm and whole food as possible. Teach your children at a young age how to read an ingredient label at the grocery store. It’s a fun and educational game that supports awareness around what is actually food, and what are lab experiments. Remember, you are what you eat. Bon Appetit!

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