The Unbiased Truth about Artificial Sweeteners | Chris Kresser

The Unbiased Truth about Artificial Sweeteners

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These three wooden scoops show different forms of sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners come in many forms, but are they good for you? Find out. iStock/MamaMiaPL

Note: This article was originally published in 2014 and was updated in 2018 to include the latest research. Several years ago, the evidence was limited, and I was hesitant to make a firm conclusion on the dangers of artificial sweeteners. However, I now believe there is sufficient evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners should not be included in a healthy diet.

Artificial sweeteners continue to be a controversial public health issue, and the research keeps coming. On one hand, many people are adamantly opposed to the use of sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, neotame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), saccharin, and advantame because of the purported link with increased risk for cancer and other diseases. But on the other hand, they’re becoming increasingly popular as people try to reduce calorie consumption and lose weight.

There’s too much research out there to cover comprehensively in a blog article, but I’ll try to include the basics: Will artificial sweeteners give you cancer or other diseases? Do they actually help with weight loss? And ultimately, should you be eating them?

To learn all about sweeteners—natural and artificial—download this free eBook today.

The research on artificial sweeteners has always been lacking—until now. So, are artificial sweeteners healthy? Find out in this article, updated in 2018 with the latest information. #nutrition #wellness #chriskresser

Will Artificial Sweeteners Give You Cancer?

Artificial sweeteners were first tied to cancer risk in the 1970s after a study showed that a combination of saccharin and cyclamate (another early artificial sweetener) caused bladder cancer in lab rats. The mechanism behind these effects was later found to be specific to rats and not generalizable to other animals or humans (in these rats, comparable doses of vitamin C can also cause bladder cancer), and further studies demonstrated that neither sweetener is carcinogenic. (12)

However, this study cast a shadow of doubt over artificial sweeteners, and thanks in part to the media’s penchant for blowing nutritional headlines way out of proportion, the reputation of artificial sweeteners has never recovered.

A later study suggested a link between aspartame consumption and brain tumors. The authors based this hypothesis on the fact that both brain cancer and aspartame consumption had increased since 1980—despite not knowing whether the people getting brain tumors actually consumed artificial sweeteners—and on a rat study where aspartame-supplemented diets led to the formation of brain tumors. (3)

This association has been more or less dismissed by the research community because three case-control studies have found no association between brain tumors and aspartame consumption, and subsequent animal studies haven’t been able to replicate the aspartame-induced brain tumors found in the original rat study. (4)

Artificial sweeteners have also been implicated in the development of lymphoma and leukemia, and one observational study found a weak link between artificial sweetener consumption and development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and multiple myeloma in men, but not in women. (5) The study authors concluded that due to the inconsistency in their results, there isn’t likely a causal link, although it can’t be ruled out.

Artificial sweeteners have also been tested for associations with other cancers, including breast, pancreatic, stomach, colon, and endometrium, with no correlations found. (6)

Based on the evidence, I don’t think artificial sweeteners are a huge risk factor for cancer, although the possibility can’t be ruled out and caution is warranted.

Artificial Sweeteners Can Change Your Metabolic Health

Artificial sweeteners have also been tied to an increased risk for developing metabolic syndrome and related diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Numerous observational studies have attempted to parse out a consistent association with disease risk, but for every study that has linked artificial sweetener consumption with metabolic syndrome, heart disease, or diabetes, there’s another that has found no association. (789)

Fortunately, we have meta-analyses, which serve to pool together similar studies and try to determine the overall effect. In July 2017, the Canadian Medical Association Journal published a meta-analysis that picked apart the findings from seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 30 cohort studies on artificial sweeteners. (10) In total, the studies followed more than 400,000 people for about 10 years.

In the RCTs, artificial sweeteners had no significant effect on cardiovascular or metabolic disease risk. However, in the long-term cohort studies, consumption of artificial sweeteners was associated with a higher incidence of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular events, even after controlling for confounding variables.

Of course, observational studies cannot confirm causality, but another study, published in the journal Nature, showed that artificial sweeteners altered the gut microbiota and that this was causally linked to glucose tolerance in mice. (11) For the humans included in the study, even just one week of artificial sweetener consumption was enough to reduce glucose tolerance in half of the participants.

It’s clear that artificial sweeteners can have an impact on your gut microbiota—and that can have far-reaching effects on your health.

For a complete breakdown of how this works, check out my 2016 article “How Artificial Sweeteners Wreak Havoc on Your Gut.”

Pregnant Women: Avoid Artificial Sweeteners, Just to Be Safe

There has been concern in recent years over a potential link between artificial sweetener consumption and pre-term delivery, prompted by two observational studies published in 2010 and 2012. (1213)

These studies have significant limitations:

  • The associations are small and not linearly dose-dependent;
  • Not all artificially sweetened beverages were accounted for; and
  • Women who consume more artificially sweetened drinks also tend to smoke more and have higher BMI and lower socioeconomic status. (14)

All told, the risk seems small, but I would advise pregnant women to avoid artificial sweeteners just to be on the safe side.

The Big Question: Do They Help You Lose Weight?

For most people, the primary motivation for consuming artificial sweeteners is a desire to eat fewer calories and lose weight. But do artificial sweeteners actually help achieve that goal? Yet again, the evidence is mixed.

Many observational studies have found a positive association between artificial sweetener intake and obesity, but in this situation, reverse causality is particularly likely. (15161718) In other words, while it’s possible that artificial sweeteners contributed to weight gain in these studies, it’s also possible that people who are overweight are more likely to choose diet beverages and other artificially sweetened foods in an effort to lose weight. We also have a decent number of clinical trials testing the weight loss effects of artificial sweeteners in humans, although many are too short term to have much practical significance.

In one study, overweight subjects were given supplements of either sucrose or artificial sweeteners for 10 weeks. (19) At the end of the trial period, subjects in the artificial sweetener group had experienced, on average, a reduction in weight, fat mass, and blood pressure, while subjects in the sucrose group gained weight and had increased blood pressure.

A study published in 2014 on weight loss and artificial sweeteners was surprisingly positive: over a 12-week period, participants who were instructed to drink 24 ounces of artificially sweetened beverages every day actually lost more weight than participants who were instructed to drink 24 ounces of water daily. (20) (It’s worth noting that this study was fully funded by the American Beverage Association.) Other trials have also shown successful calorie reduction and weight loss in participants who consumed artificial sweeteners (usually in the form of beverages). (212223)

So what do we make of all this? Fortunately, the same meta-analysis I mentioned above of over 400,000 people also looked at weight loss. (24) When they pooled together the seven RCTs, they found no significant effect of artificial sweeteners on body mass index (BMI). On the other hand, when they pooled the cohort studies, consumption of artificial sweeteners was positively associated with increases in weight, waist circumference, and a higher incidence of obesity.

Based on this evidence, it seems that artificial sweeteners do not necessarily lead to weight loss, and may in fact do the opposite!

As I mentioned, artificial sweeteners’ ability to disrupt the gut microbiota can lead to weight gain, but that’s not the only mechanism involved here. These sweeteners can actually “confuse” your body and make it harder for you to shed extra pounds.

How These Sweeteners “Confuse” Your Body

For most of human history, sweeteners were inextricably tied to caloric density. Our sweet taste receptors evolved primarily to help us identify calorie-rich food sources. So imagine the confusing results when our taste receptors are bombarded with sweetness without that expected surge in calories.

Animal models certainly indicate that artificial sweeteners can impair the innate ability to regulate caloric intake. Rats who are fed with artificial sweeteners consistently gain more weight than rats who are fed with glucose or sucrose. (2526) Additionally, the rats don’t tend to lose the excess weight, even after their diets are switched back to glucose or sucrose to reestablish the normal connection between a sweet taste and calorie-rich foods.

Interestingly, rats who were given stevia solutions gained significantly more weight than the glucose-fed rats and similar amounts of weight to the saccharin-fed rats. (27) Rats fed with artificial sweeteners also develop an impaired ability to respond to sugar-containing foods. In one study, rats who had been fed artificial sweeteners were unable to compensate for the calorie content of a sugar preload by eating less chow afterwards, while rats who had been fed sugar-containing food compensated almost perfectly for the extra calories in the preload by eating less chow. (28)

Rats that have been conditioned with saccharin also display a reduced thermic effect in response to consumption of a caloric sugar-containing meal, as well as higher blood glucose, compared with rats who had been conditioned with glucose. (2930) Additionally, saccharin-fed rats secreted less GLP-1 (which is implicated in satiety and glucose homeostasis) when given a sugar-containing test meal. (31)

Unfortunately, although the animal evidence is fairly robust, evidence in humans is limited. However, two interesting studies that used MRI to measure brain responses to sucrose solutions indicate that artificial sweeteners may alter the brain’s response to sweet tastes in humans. In one study, people who regularly consume artificially sweetened drinks had higher reward responses to both saccharin and sucrose compared with people who don’t consume artificial sweeteners. (32)

Additionally, people who don’t consume artificial sweeteners had different brain responses to the saccharin and sucrose, while those who regularly consume artificial sweeteners responded the same to both sweeteners. Another study found that the amygdala’s response to sucrose consumption was inversely related to artificial sweetener use. (33) (The amygdala is part of the brain that is involved with taste–nutrient conditioning.)

Should You Be Eating Artificial Sweeteners?

To sum up, artificial sweeteners are extremely new to the human diet, and for modern, industrial foods, the operating principle should always be “guilty until proven innocent.” We’ve conducted what are essentially population-wide experiments with the introduction of other industrial foods (such as high-omega-6 vegetable oils) because the initial evidence seemed promising, and we can see how well that worked out.

Increasing evidence from animal studies and human observational studies points to a link between artificial sweeteners and an increased risk for:

  • Glucose intolerance
  • Weight gain
  • Diabetes

Observational evidence also suggests a link between artificial sweetener consumption and cardiovascular disease risk.

While we have limited causal evidence in human clinical trials, I believe the evidence is strong enough to conclude that artificial sweeteners should not be included in a healthy diet.

In case you missed them, be sure to check out parts one and two of this series.

195 Comments

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  1. In 2010 I lost 70 pounds by completely eliminating refined sugars, Unrefined sugars, and starchy food such as potatoes. I was enjoying meats of basically all kinds, butter, and other healthy fats. I was even eating bacon and I was not counting calories neither. I was only significantly reducing sugar and starch intake (Simple Carbs). I then decided to indulge on some rice and that was a huge mistake. Gained 30 pounds in 5 months. First the rice, then the breads and I ended up graduating to cakes and pastries. I decided to lose weight again and tried the Paleo diet. The paleo diet promotes healthy non processed food eating, but it is too restrictive and unrealistic at times. I was partially successful after a frustrating 3 months of only eating veggies and meat. Absolutely no cheese, or milk or sweeteners in my coffee which is the only time I use sweeteners by the way and the ocassional soda. Also no alchoholic beverages which is also extremely unrealistic to some. I decided that well, I am a modern man not a cave man and that I would take advantage of a few modern blessings. I reintroduced the sweeteners, some cheese, and very little alcohol. I am glad I did, because i know have basically lost those 30 pounds and some. This is not about dieting. This is about lifestyle changes that we must do to preserve our health. It is important to listen to your body. If sweeteners cause headaches or make you gain wieght then make the decision to eliminate then from your diet, but don’t go around saying that they are the gateway to hades lol. People who claim that processed foods cause hormone problems that lead to weight gain fail to explain how some people eat them while maintaining a skinny body. Others will eat it with no joint pain or other adverse effects, while others do experience adverse effects. Me in particular have not experienced any difference from eating processed foods, I have not become leptin resistant neither UNLESS I eat sugar. That to me is what disable my hunger break not allowing me to realize when I had too much to eat and always craving more (Lay’s claim than you can’t have only one chip is true). Sweeteners have helped me so I have made the grown up decision of consuming them. Processed foods do nothing to me, but I decided that cooking my own meals is better especially when it comes to taste so i avoid precessed foods when possible, but never 100%. Please, the average lifespan of a Caveman was 30 years tops. The modern man lifes to an average of 80. I don’t think that living in this age and eating what’s available is that bad as soon as you eliminate foods that have been designed to disable your hunger breaks (Ussually candies and junk food such as doritos) but haveing your weight watchers or atkins boxed meal will not kill you (but do keep an eye on their sodium content).

    • Most people don’t experience problems from processed foods right away. Obviously, the more unprocessed, high nutrient foods we consume, the better off we will be in the long run. But it is all about balance, and “a little of what you fancy does you good.” Sounds like you’ve found a balance that works for you. I’d be interested to know what processed foods you choose to include in your diet, and what kind of sweeteners, if you care to share.

    • Tony that is such a rational response without getting on your high horse as most people do. Thanks for sharing the average person’s feelings.

  2. The negative effects of artificial sweeteners (or any food) vary by individual. I can enjoy any of them with no side effects, but aspartame gave my dad brutal headaches. So, just be wise and use with care. As a diabetic, Splenda has been a godsend. I use several tablespoons (way more than would be recommended) of Splenda with my low carb cereal (ground flax seed/oatmeal blend with cashews, almond milk, and a dash of salt–yum!). Since my diagnosis, I’ve lost 40 lbs. and cut my HbA1c from 9.7 to 5.6. It also hasn’t dulled my appreciation for actual sweets. Now, I get a sweet kick from simple grilled onions or steamed carrots because I’m not over sensitized by all the excess carbs I used to get from cereal, milk, fries, sandwiches, ice cream… (you get the picture). I’d like to know if any of the research has compared the incidence of intolerance for these sweeteners to the incidence of allergies in the general public to common foods like nuts, dairy, fish, and gluten. These are “natural” foods that still make people sick or even kill them but we don’t try to ban them or prevent others from enjoying them.

  3. I think artificial sweeteners are perfectly fine. I almost never eat processed sugar and feel great, but I use artificial sweeteners in my iced teas, which I drink a lot of. I’ve never felt better than when I stopped eating processed sugar; my arthritis in my knee is much better and I’ve been able to start running again w/o pain.

    I think this doc has it right:

    SOS (Stop Only Sugar) Diet
    Healthy Weight Loss Diet Program

    Safety of Sugar Substitutes

    There is no credible scientific evidence to support many of the claims that the sugar substitutes in widespread use today cause any health problems at all. Based on all the scientific evidence, it is my very strong opinion that the sugar substitutes are much better for you than refined sugar. I encourage you to review the potential side effects and consequences of refined sugar in your diet.

    Please critically review the valid scientific research as documented and summarized in Chapter 7, where you will also find some information on the newer sugar substitute, known as stevia. http://www.sosdietbook.com/index.php?page=Safety_of_Sugar_Substitutes

  4. I use artifical sweetness more than 20 year and never have a headache .exaly i dont like the test of normal sugar anymore!Also i dont eat more normal sugar products(like manny studye sugest),to compensate my honger for sweetness!Thatswhy i am verry sceptical about every negatief conclusion about artificial swetness.Manny studye dont have enogh people to make a good conclusion(16 or 20,even 50 people is to less),beside that there can be so manny other variables !!!

  5. I was getting amazingly bad headaches and worked out that it was the chewing gum that I was eating every day. As soon as I stopped eating them the headaches stopped. The other day I had another headache after not having one for 2 months and worked out that it was some peppermints that I had eaten….i am totally convinced that the culprit was the artifical sweetners….

    • Well, from what I have read, the body releases insulin when it tastes food, particularly sweet food. This prepares the body to absorb excess blood sugar once the food starts being digested, and is supposed to be why you feel hungry around food. Or why you won’t feel hungry, but then someone fries up some bacon and suddenly your stomach is rumbling.

      If you consume artificial sweeteners, the body is expecting a lot of sugar, so it releases insulin. But since there IS no actual sugar, this means your blood sugar will drop sharply.

      Your brain needs a constant source of blood sugar. So when your blood sugar suddenly drops, the blood vessels in your brain dilate. And as most of us know, dilating blood vessels in the brain cause headaches. (It’s why when cold food touches the roof of your mouth, your brain dilates blood vessels to rush to cool off the brain, and voila, ice cream headache.) In this case, it is doing it for low blood sugar, rather than cold.

      • I sincerely disagree regarding your insulin “theory”, sir. I suffer from daily debilitating migraines, and one of my triggers is artificial sweeteners. My body is so sensitive to them, especially aspartame, that just one accidental drink of my mom’s diet soda will give me a migraine within ten minutes. Even if I’ve gotten it in my mouth and spit it out it has produced a migraine before. (This only happens with fountain drinks I mix up with hers, and it’s because the soda still reaches my throat from using a straw before I fully realize it’s diet.)
        I can no longer chew gum because they will use sugar or corn syrup as the main ingredient, yet still use aspartame in the product. I found that out the hard way. I picked up my regular *not* low calorie gum, started chewing a piece on the way to the circus with my nieces, realized it tasted like aspartame, looked at the ingredients, and was floored. Try spending three hours with a migraine at a very loud circus with four very loud seven and younger girls, miserable because you chewed a piece of gum for perhaps an entire sixty seconds.
        I can no longer eat soft serve at any chain fast food because it, too, contains some artificial sweetener (tastes like aspartame). First it was the curly top ice cream chain. Partially through a cone I recognized the taste and realized the blended treats I’d been getting were masking the flavor. I couldn’t figure out why they kept giving me a migraine, and why I’d switched to a plain cone that visit. Fast forward to yesterday when I stopped at a big yellow M, and a few swipes of my tongue had me cursing and handing the cone to my niece to finish. By the time I got home, I had to head straight to bed.
        So your insulin “theory” is incorrect. Not only does my own experience demonstrate the negative effects of artificial sweeteners in regards to headaches/migraines, but studies have been conducted that show the same. Any migraine specialist worth a damn will ask you to keep a diary, especially a food journal, and they will ask you directly if you eat/use artificial sweeteners.
        It’s not all in our heads.

        • Wow! That is really intense!

          What I mentioned was just my own theory, or at least how it seems to happen for me.

          It seems like I can sometimes drink Dr. Pepper 10 even though it uses aspartame, because it still has some sugar in it. Or if I have food along with a diet drink.

          The migraine does pop up after about 10 minutes, so perhaps I get a similar effect/trigger. Though obviously not to your extent.

        • I’m not questioning that aspartame is a migraine trigger for you. However, according to McDonald’s website, which lists the ingredients of their ice cream, it does not contain aspartame. Ingredients: Milk, Sugar, Cream, Nonfat Milk Solids, Corn Syrup Solids, Mono- and Diglycerides, Guar Gum, Dextrose, Sodium Citrate, Artificial Vanilla Flavor, Sodium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Disodium Phosphate, Cellulose Gum, Vitamin A Palmitate. Hardly natural, but not aspartame. I had to look it up because I have never tasted it in there and I usually can taste even a tiny amount of any artificial sweetener. I have recently become very annoyed with “non-diet” foods that have “less sugar” because they added artificial sweeteners (including the gum you mentioned).

        • There is artificial sweeteners even in non diet soda drinks so wouldn’t you get headaches from then anyway I’d it’s the sweeteners I was shocked to see the sweeteners in normal nin diet as well as sugar

      • If sweeteners cause insulin spikes that in turn cause the brain to starve from sugar then they would also cause hunger due to the brain signaling that it is starving prompting hunger mechanisms in the body to be activated so the person feel the need to eat. You would be craving real sugar shortly after ingesting sweeteners. Also, if this is true, wouldn’t it cause some sort of adverse effects on diabetics? I’m not sure because my understanding is that the pancreas quits producing insuling on a type 1 diabetic, but I figured I ask anyway.

    • You say you would rely on that site more than the ‘Unbiased Truth’ article. That site makes no attempt to be impartial and NOBODY should rely on it.

      The ‘Unbiased Truth’ article actually tries to represent things as they stand and although they clearly don’t like artificial sweeteners they are looking at the facts rather than innuendo.

      I was pretty impressed with this article’s write-up.

      I’m also not a fan of artificial sweeteners and believe that nobody should use them. Regardless, one should rely on facts and studies rather than anecdotal stories which may or may not have anything to do with cause and effect.

      Epidemial studies are interesting, but even if a connection is found they do not prove cause and effect. That is an entirely different proposition.

      By the way, I went to your site…. at the top of it is a paragraph that includes a couple statements surrounded by quotes. This SHOULD mean that those statements have some sort of source that should be acknowledged. There is none, and no mention to whom the quotes should be attributed. Without a specific source, anyone and anything could be quoted, but it could be the neighbor’s kid, or some ignorant and biased person who is using no facts at all.

      NOBODY should place any reliance on the site that you provided since it is clearly unscientific, totally biased, and does not even attempt to document anything.

      Are they correct in their assertions? Nobody will ever know because of the sloppy nature of the site. It’s worthless.

  6. From my own personal experience using artificial sweeteners — I can honestly say that 1) it made me feel like crap and 2) they’re highly addictive. I was never much of a soda drinker, but drank it every once in a while. When I became diabetic, I switched from regular soda to diet soda thinking nothing of it. I went from drinking 1 diet soda a day to eventually craving/needing upwards of 12 cans of diet soda a day — and still wanting more! I felt empty after drinking diet soda and not very satisfied. The more I drank, the thirstier I got and the more I needed — like a drug. It got out of hand, even I was amazed by how many sodas I was drinking every day and after about a year or so, I decided to quit cold turkey. It was hard at first, but I kept at it and now, some 10 years later, I don’t even miss it. In fact, I get sick just thinking about all the crap I was ingesting! I don’t eat processed or preserved foods anymore, nothing that comes prepackaged. Only whole clean foods, mostly raw fruit and vegetables, some lean chicken, an occasional piece of poached salmon and some whole dairy (in the form of cheese). Aside from the cheese, nothing else I eat comes in a package with a label, so except for the GMO produce and hormone-treated chicken *sigh* I’m doing just fine! *smirk*

  7. “unbiased truth” my behind. you can eat the sugar alcohols and i’ll stick to aspartame and spare myself the awful stomachaches.

  8. I didn’t see any mention of diabetics and without artificial sweeteners, I would end up eating too much sugar. I will take my chances with Sweet N Low. Too many witch hunts going on these days. An article in the Oct. 19, 2013 edition of The Economist reported that in 2012: Amgen, a biotech firm, could only reproduce 6 of 53 landmark studies in cancer research; Bayer could only reproduce a quarter of 67 similar papers; A leading computer scientist complains that three fourths of papers in his subfield are bunk; In 2000-2010 roughly 80,000 patients took part in clinical trials based on erroneous research.

    • Are you diabetic? My understanding is that you wouldn’t want sugar or artificial sweeteners if you are. That your body has the same response to either. I’ve talked to people with diabetes and they are told not to have either. Maybe it depends on significant your diabetes is?

      • That would be incorrect. Insulin release is a chemical response. Since artificial sweeteners have no sugar the response cannot happen.

    • Diabetics are a big driver for the use of artificial sweeteners.

      This is a terrible disease, but do keep in mind that there is NO biological need to have our food constantly sweetened with natural and/or artificial sweeteners.

      Why do we use sweeteners? Makes stuff taste good! It’s a personal preference and so many grocery items have added sugars to the product that it is easy to get sucked into the expectation that food will be sweetened. But really, there is no need to have everything sweetened other than to get us addicted to an unhealthy diet that is highly profitable to the large food corporations, not to mention a likely contributor to diabetic/metabolic syndrome disease.

      My point is that we don’t HAVE to eat a diet that is sweetened. THAT is a personal choice.

    • Thank you for those great references. Nice to have something based upon facts rather than emotion.

  9. In 1987, I lost 130 pounds–more than I currently weigh. I have maintained that weight loss, and using artificial sweeteners, played a big part in my weight loss, as they do in my maintenance. I did delete Asparatame, from my diet, because I do believe it is a migraine trigger, for me. I decided, long ago, that obesity was the greatest threat that I faced, and I was, and am thankful, that I have had these, in my arsenal, to battle obesity. I am happy to say, I also enjoy radiant health, with “numbers” that my physicians say, they envy. Maybe they are crutches, and I honestly don’t care…nor do I care who chooses to use them, or not. It’s a personal decision–but I am sick to death of obese people who make snarky remarks to me, about my low carb lifestyle, and use of sweeteners, being negative to my health.

    • Robin, I am always pleased to read or hear about someone’s success in battling obesity! I loved hearing your story and although I am personally opposed to artificial sweeteners in general, I recognize how important they are to some.

      I have met many people who have discovered that when they quit using the artificial sweeteners they tended to lose weight. And I have read credible research studies that document that the use of artificial sweeteners does make some changes in our brains, mostly by causing the brain to get confused about the link between satiety and calories consumed.

      I have a serious Coke addiction. Several times went on Atkins binges and reverted to diet Coke. Each time I found that my consumption of Coke spiraled out of control. Where I had at one time consumed 2 cans of Coke, when I went to Diet Coke, I suddenly was drinking 6 to 8 cans like nothing.

      Once I got used to the shock of the nasty taste of the diet soda, I began to enjoy it and could drink one can after another, something that can’t be done with real Coke.

      I’m glad it has worked out for you as well as anyone else with a similar victory.

      • I had an addiction to Diet Coke; stopped it 10 years ago cold turkey and have never had a sip of any soda since then, and I don’t miss it anymore, though the first few days were tough. I only drink water and iced tea now, which I do flavor with an artificial sweetener. Try that. Cold turkey on sodas is the way to go.

  10. To those of you getting snarky with one another, how does that help any of us? We all want to find the healthiest way to eat and it does no good to use sarcasm against one another.

  11. Ok I have read all the comments above – now I have a question: I never drink diet soda’s but I do drink about 5 cups of coffee both regular and decaf a day. I put 1 packet of “sweet n low” in each cup of coffee. Am I going to get cancer? Please respond, as now I’m scared. (been doing this for years and years)

  12. Chris–You should put a date on your articles. The only way I can tell when you wrote this is looking at the dates in the comments.

    • The article is clearly marked with the date of May 30, 2014. I recommend to double check things before you leave an incorrect comment like this which only serves to be an embarrassment to you.

  13. When I started low-carb/high fat in January my triglycerides were 199. I quit drinking the 3-4 daily regular colas and switched to Sweet Leaf Sweet Drops stevia (berry) and use 5 drops in a glass of water (about 5 a day). In March my triglycerides were 80 and I was 10 pounds lighter although I was not overweight to begin with. Low carb probably had a lot to do with it although I rarely ate sweets or grains before. I don’t see any adverse effects with the Sweet Drops.

    • Dropping the nasty Cokes and replacing with Stevia drops was a smart move. Coke is normally sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and there is significant research that demonstrates that HFCS causes considerable inflammation damage not to mention really bad metabolization by-products. The powerful HFCS industry is fighting the facts vigorously, but it’s a losing battle.

      You can get Mexican Coke at Sam’s Club and other venues. A bit more expensive, but is sweetened with table sugar and tastes better and is less addictive.

  14. What isn’t being mentioned here is how artificial sweeteners change our sense of taste. Even Stevia, in it’s processed form is 300+ times sweeter than sugar. If you are constantly bombing your taste buds with these sweeteners, your body will expect that level of sweetness in all of your food.

    You don’t need artificial sweeteners.

  15. I don’t think a study sponsored by the American Beverage Association is even worth mention, except to dismiss it as probably corrupt. I think most artificial sweeteners taste bad, so I avoid them. Generally agree with the conclusion that one should avoid until further evidence is produced, although I do think there are far better nutritional studies we could be spending our money on than whether artificial sweeteners are good or bad.

  16. When I drink diet coke — which has aspartame — I get an empty hollow feeling and need to eat something, and it usually isn’t a real healthy something. Also stevia gives me diarrhea. I think using sugar substitutes is a form of denial — and that denial is that we cannot be happy without our daily dose of added sugar — real or fake. We are looking for all sorts of ways to avoid facing the reality that added sugar is not a healthy way of seeking eating pleasure.. We need to wean ourselves from it and retrain ourselves to eat it as an occasional special treat not as every day fare.

  17. I found this article disappointing. As the many comments have shown, there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence, not to mention numerous peer-reviewed studies showing there ARE negative side-effects from aspartame in particular. I think Dr. Mercola addresses these issues in a far more comprehensive manner on his website. I enjoy Chris’s articles, but he really failed to demonstrate the true nature of the debate over the safety of artificial sweeteners in this case.

    • I was impressed with the article which did a great job of being unbiased and presenting the facts and studies and whether these things showed artificial sweeteners to be dangerous or not.

      I do like Dr. Mercola and consider him to have very good intentions, but I absolutely can not rely on his opinions since he is clearly extremely biased.

  18. Personally, I respond extremely poorly to artificial sweeteners. I get migraines, stomach pains, etc. with even extremely small doses of that stuff. That being said, I think it is much safer to just avoid them…it is pretty easy to avoid them.

    • I agree with your assessment and believe that many have unpleasant side effects. However, it is REALLY HARD to avoid these things as they are hidden in numerous foods! THey are everywhere!

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