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Switching to a Safer Sweetener
By Jen Morganti, ND NEEDS Education Director

Going out for a cup of coffee has become more complicated now with so many choices to consider—latté, drip, Frenchpress, mocha…the list goes on and on. It's especially confusing if you like a little sweetener; do you pick the pink, yellow, blue, or brown packet? For me, it's natural or nothing. Those pretty-colored packets are disguised as healthy alternatives to sugar because they contain zero calories and don't raise blood-sugar levels. But really, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose are unsafe for human consumption.

In the case of aspartame, it can be converted to formaldehyde in the body. Animal studies found that rats that consumed aspartame for most of their lives developed various forms of tumors and lymphoma. As for sucralose, it is chlorinated (meaning chlorine molecules are added to make it) and acts as a toxin in the body.

Studies show that these artificial sweeteners affect our body in the exact opposite way that we expect; they don't help with weight loss and in fact, they can cause insulin resistance and weight gain!


There is also research that suggests that artificial sweeteners may be especially bad for patients with autoimmune Hashimoto's thyroiditis. In those patients who tested positive for antibodies to this autoimmune condition, it was found that a high percentage of them reported using several of those pink or yellow packets daily. Researchers also found that people who consumed artificial sweeteners were more likely to have elevated TSH (indicating low thyroid hormone) compared to those who didn't.


What I found most interesting about this study is how one of the scientists reacted to it. This doctor was so intrigued by the study outcome that he decided to see what would happen if he told his Hashimoto's Disease patients to stop eating the sweeteners. He was able to convince three of his patients to quit using the pink and yellow packets.

Remarkably, two out of three had a complete reversal of symptoms and even switched to being antibody-negative!

The food industry claims that the case against artificial sweeteners has not yet been proven 100% conclusive, but for me, it certainly makes sense to avoid them entirely. It's best to use natural sugar, stevia, or honey in moderation. In my opinion, they taste better and are safer, so why take a risk with the deceptively pretty-colored packets?

References
1. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/17/ artificial-sweeteners-may-disrupt-bodys-bloodsugar- controls/
2. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2006. V114(3): 379- 385


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