We’re all aware of the harmful effects of sugar. But are artificial sweeteners any better? Growing research suggests that artificial sweeteners may have harmful effects too. This post compares the health risks of both sugar and artificial sweeteners to help you decide which is better for your sweet tooth.
Which is better for your teeth?
If you regularly consume sugar, your mouth is likely to become a breeding ground for bacteria. This in turn can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Sugary drinks are by far the worst offenders as they coat the entire mouth in sugar.
Artificial sweeteners don’t feed bacteria to your teeth and are therefore healthier in this regard. Taking steps such as switching to sugar-free gum or adding artificial sweeteners to your coffee instead of sugar could be a positive step towards improving your dental health. Unfortunately, you may still want to limit sugar-free soda drinks, as while they may not contain sugar, they still contain acids that can erode enamel.
Good dental hygiene combined with regular trips to the dentist is likely to be the best defence against tooth decay. However, switching to artificial sweeteners could have an impact too.
Which is better for your waistline?
Consuming sugar in moderation likely won’t have any negative impact on your waistline. The problem comes from consuming excess amounts of sugar – when your blood sugar levels are too high, some of this sugar is absorbed by the liver and converted into fatty oils, which are then distributed throughout the body.
Artificial sweeteners don’t affect your blood sugar level and won’t convert into fat. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these sweeteners will help you lose weight. Some studies have found that artificial sweeteners are less likely to satisfy the body’s sweet cravings, leaving many people still feeling hungry. As a result, artificial sweeteners may encourage you to eat more to try to satiate your appetite, possibly leading to weight gain.
If you can resist these cravings, artificial sweeteners may be a better option. However, you may find that making other changes to your diet and exercising has a bigger impact.
Which is better for general organ health?
Consuming too much sugar can damage various organs around the body. Constant high blood sugar levels and insulin spikes can wear out the pancreas, leading to type-2 diabetes. Excess amounts of sugar can also lead to fatty liver disease. On top of this, there are links to gut disease, heart disease and cancers.
Artificial sweeteners won’t damage your pancreas or liver. In fact, they’re a recommended sugar substitute for those already battling diabetes. Some studies have linked consumption of artificial sweeteners to several other organ issues including poor gut health and bladder cancer. However, there have been criticisms with these studies, and further research is needed to find out if this risk is certain.
All in all, artificial sweeteners are likely to cause less organ damage than sugar. They’re definitely a better option for preventing diabetes.
The bitter truth
Artificial sweeteners are overall a healthier option than sugar. However, there are still health risks to consider when consuming sugar-free foods and drinks – the likes of sugar-free soda still contains ingredients that can lead to health problems.
The most effective way to look after your body is to simply reduce your consumption of sweet foods and drinks. Most health problems stem from consuming too much sugar. Taking measures such as consuming one less sugar in your coffee, reducing sweet snacks and having a glass of water instead of juice could have a much bigger positive impact on your health.