|12-04-2013, 04:15 PM||#1|
Join Date: Aug 2009
Device: ImcoV6l; Elonex EB600 Cool-Er; Kobo Wifi
Give me a GOOD reason why "artificial" sweeteners are evil.
I'm not really in a good mood right now, which means I'm talky and irritable. So I apologize in advance for being rude. Maybe I'll re-read my posting tomorrow and decide to throw it away.
But on the off-chance that there actually IS a good reason which I merely refuse to see or acknowledge, I simply have to write this up somewhere.
I'm trying to remain objective but this is a topic where trying to find useful information is like straining sewage with your teeth.
But, as I just today discovered, it's easy to delude oneself into claiming obectivity while being horribly biased. Unfortunately, self-examination rarely gets you an objective opinion of yourself.
Half the internet is full of self-declared experts who have obviously no idea of how our body works (not that I've studied this either) and the other half is explaining to you why you need to buy their supplements to stave off your impending doom at the hands of the food industry.
(To clarify: I'm not saying the food industry is innocent of wrong-doings or only wants to help us. Mostly they're companies so they're going to bend laws until they creak, but I trust them to not actually break them. Nor do I believe that any company tries to actively harm their customers. They may accept harm to their customers if it gets them more money, though.)
BTW, if a mod decides that this post is too inflamatory, feel free to delete/move/whatever.
I need to blow off some steam, and this forum is likely a better place than most (in the sense that everyone here actually reads and understands books and not just sensationalist newspapers).
Of course, I've been stupid enough not to actually save all those website I read which I found informative. Which means that I too can only offer my trying to be objective and if not provable facts then at least reasonable logic.
(The problem with that being of course that logic is always subjective. Unless it's bool's logic.)
Not all are artficial, and it depends on how you define the term. (As in "produced in a laboratory, but designed to be identical to the stuff found in plants. Is that still artificial? It exists in nature, but it's cheaper to produce it by manipulating unrelated bacteria or chemically altering other stuff. Or both.)
Ask any 10 persons, you'll get 11 outcries of how evil they are, we're all going to die and so on.
Ask them WHY THEY THINK THEY ARE EVIL, you'll most likely get two or three different replies:
1) They cause ravenous appetite
2) They're a leftover chemical warfare agent
3) They cause cancer
4) They're addictive
5) Besides, it's all because company X has the patent and they lobby everyone to use the stuff even though "everyone" knows how dangerous it is.
6) Because of 1, they're used in pig fattening.
Obviously, I think that all those arguments are nothing but a load of bull...
0) "They" are a group of unrelated chemicals (chemical as in Dihydrogenmonoxid - i.e. anything really) that taste sweet but don't necessarily have anything more in common.
Like all urban legends, these "explanations" very rarely name a specific sweetener.
Off the top of my head, there are:
Saccharin, Aspartame, Cyclamate, Acesulfame potassium, Thaumatin, Steviol glycoside, Xylitol and several other sugar alcohols (Isomalt, Maltit, Mannit, etc...) and a very nice stuff: Inulin (no s).
Those could all be labelled "sweetener" and mostly "artificial" (of course, Stevia is often declared "all natural" because who knows why. Beet or Cane sugar is likely less processed than steviol glycoside, I'd bet half a months pay on it.).
However, they are very different - not all are no-calorie, some even have as much as regular sugar. Some have mass similar to sugar as well.
Inulin (no s) btw even is a dietary fiber and prebiotic, meaning it's good for your colons inhabitants.
The most known and most wide "identified" as evil are the unholy trinity:
Aspartame, Cyclamate and Acesulfame potassium and of course the time-honored Saccharine (over a hundred years by now!).
The former often being accused of being a chemical warfare agent, as well as being pushed because it gets royalties to a company (I believe Monsanto is often claimed).
Also, it causes cancer, destroys your brain and whatever else you want to blame it for.
Unfortunately, the patent expired about 20 years ago, so only those who produce it will get money from it, there are no royalties anymore.
Shockingly, it breaks down into Formaldehyde among other stuff. Scary!
The amounts (microgram) is ridiculously low, but hey - we can scare people by saying this!
What scared ME some time ago is that Aspartame could indeed kill people! But "only" those poor souls (no sarcasm, I honestly mean that) who suffer from "phenylketonuria".
But this is because Aspartame also releases "Phenylalanine" (if you look on the label, there should be an appropiate warning).
The "fun" (scary) thing is - Phenylalanine is an ESSENTIAL amino acid. Meaning it's not just in Aspartame, but in many other stuff we eat daily (eggs among them).
Worse even, the body actually needs it - it is an essential amino acid. People who suffer from phenylketonuria must be very careful with regards to what they eat. For them, Aspartame is indeed a danger.
However, it's very unlikely that anyone today doesn't know he suffers from phenylketonuria - test are done at birth in most countries, since untreated it'll indeed hinder brain development.
Fun fact: Phenylalanine is contained in the breast milk of mammals.
Back to sweeteners, continuing with the first "argument" (hunger).
1) An often heard "argument" is that sweeteners (never explain which!) cause hunger because once our body notices a sweet taste on the tongue, it immediately releases insulin into the blood, causing the blood sugar level to drop sharply, thus generating a craving for carbohydrates.
A nice theory, until one stops to think about it.
First a fact (feel free to check with whoever you trust):
Insulin is needed to process larger quantities of glucose
I'll repeat: Insulin => needed for glucose.
I repeat this because many people seem to believe that everything that is sweet is glucose.
While not entirely wrong, it's completely misleading.
True: Glucose is one of the two basic sugars we eat. The other being "fructose".
Not true: everything sweet is either Glucose or Fructose.
There are MANY combinations of one or both sugars in differing "lengths". Starch, to use a well-known example, consists of several glucose molecules.
While it doesn't taste sweet (not initially - as you probably know, once starch tastes sweet, it was actually broken down to single glucose molecules), it will take some time to digest (not much, though).
The same principle applies to many other carbohydrate sweeteners. Let's take Isomalt. It actually contains glucose! But because our body cannot instantly process it (it's treated like dietary fiber - i.e. mostly ignored until late in the process), the glucose is released rather slowly.
Low doses of glucose can be processed WITHOUT insulin!
Other sweeteners, like aspartame, don't even contain any glucose (hence no/very low calorie content) and thus don't need insulin either.
I've recently eaten about 20grams of rather pure xylitol and astonishingly did NOT fall into an insulin coma. I wasn't even tired and didn't get hungry either.
(In case you're wondering, there's some candy that basically is Xylitol with flavors.)
Fun fact:Xylitol is one of those that sound dangerous but are in fact beneficial. It is proven to reduce caries (inhibiting their digestion system or something) and pass rather harmlessly through the body. It gets processed, so it contains some calories (about 70% of what sugar has, with about the same level of sweetness and a "fresh" kick), and if you overdo, your colon bacteria may produce more gas than usually. And of course, as with all stuff that doesn't get processed or very late, you may have to run to the bathroom more often. But like I said, I ate a whole package without ill effects. Granted, I'm used to it, I constantly chew gum that contains it (it IS good for teeth).
Still, pooping and tooting in excess are annoying, but not exactly the stuff of horror movies. I don't want to be proven wrong, btw.
Sad fact: While Xylitol is harmless for humans (apparently there was a study giving volunteers about 400grams of the stuff daily), it is VERY DANGEROUS FOR DOGS and perhaps other animals.
Ironically, the very claim that is made about sweeteners is what may kill a dog who ingested Xylitol. For whatever reason the canine system acts upon Xylitol as if it were Glucose and releases large amounts of Insulin.
Causing not hunger (perhaps that too) but quick death. (Wikipedia says about half an hour - but this likely depends on size of dog and amount of xylitol.)
Not to trivialize this, but chocolate is dangerous to dogs as well. We're still all eating it.
Still, if sweeteners cause low blood sugar, it should be easy enough to test it. Blood sugar can be tested at home nowadays ("thanks" to the many sufferers of diabetes), so it would be easy to do a rough check - gather a dozen people, check their blood, feed them sweeteners, check again a few times.
I admit I'm not going to do that myself, though I might volunteer as test person.
I am quite sure, though, that this has been done - multiple times (different sweeteners).
2) (Chemical warfare agent)
This is usually applied to Aspartame, though quite as often there is no name.
I'm not really sure what to say about this - I never checked it because the idea is ridiculous in my opinion. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that a military (of whatever country) has tried it - but then, I expect a military to try about everything they can get their hands on, just to see if there is any use to it.
I trust common sense (as in, don't poison your customers) enough to claim that this is simply wrong.
3) (They cause cancer)
Again - "they". There are studies that claim that Saccharine or Aspartame cause cancer.
I have read about a study regarding Saccharine where they basically stuffed lab rats with saccharine (I believe a human would have eat a few kilograms of the stuff for several days to reach the same level).
Big surprise, the rats got cancer.
Problem with that, as always, is that life itself causes cancer. The longer you live, the higher the chance of some cell in your body going haywire.
Some stuff may encourage it - perhaps Saccharine or Aspartame in huge enough doses would "help".
Considering that Saccharine has been in use for about 100 years, I feel safe in saying the chances are rather slim. I'm also rather sceptical with regards to lab rats being indicators for cancer. Hearsay tells that those rats are genetically rather weak (being inbred). I'm not sure what to think of it, but it sounds reasonable.
Either way, the amounts given to rats may indicate we should moderate the intake of those stuff - which we are doing. Maybe the limits should be reduced further, but I believe (I didn't do the math) that it's not easy to reach the levels currently assumed as safe.
To actually get trustworthy results, we'd have to clone humans and watch them for a lifetime. Obviously, we're not going to do that.
4) (They're addictive)
Again, no idea what to say about that.
The same has been said about sugar.
True enough, you can get addicted to almost anything. But it's "only" psychological. Take away the morning coffee/tea/miso soup from people accustomed to them, and they'll get grumpy and may show signs like some addict.
Not sure if there was actual research done - if not, I would welcome it.
Personally, I can say that I've drunk coke light for years and I could and did pause to drink it for days or a week without problems. I miss the taste, but that's about it. (For the record, the "substitute" was simply bottled water.)
5) (Patent royalties)
No doubt several sweeteners are patented and producers/right holders are very happy of the low-calorie trends. However, the most claimed one, Aspartame, expired 20 years ago.
Ironically, it seems the currently favored sweetener, Stevia, has related patents that are held by a big company. (The way I understand it, anyone could grow and crumble stevia leafs into his product, but unless you can market the aftertaste, you want the pure and cleaned steviol glycoside - and the extraction is a complex affair.)
6) (pig fattening)
Ah, my favorite.
Related directly to 1 (hunger pangs), it is a classic mixture of truth and bull....
I have not yet found a satisfactory answer to this, so I'll try to explain what I found.
Yes, sweeteners are used in pig fattening. More precisely, piglet fattening.
Apparently pigs milk is rather sweet - so that when piglets are supposed to chow down regular stuff instead of mothers milk, they don't eat as much as they should.
The regular fattening food isn't as sweet as the milk they're used to. Adding sweeteners makes it more palatable to them.
I have read (sorry, no source) that the only sweetener pigs can actually taste is Saccharin - so it's unlikely they use Aspartame or Xylit for the feed.
Of course, now the question arises why not use regular sugar, or molasses - it would add even more calories, after all.
I have no definite answer to that, but I can offer two theories:
A source claimed that pigs cannot digest sugar too well, so they'd soon get diarrhea. The reason being that sugar attracts water, causing the well-known phenomenon (similar to what happens to humans with some sweeteners). So if the pigs digestion isn't fast enough removing the sugar, it'll cause problems.
Another theory is that adding a sweetener is easier than measuring sugar - considering that many sweeteners are far stronger than sugar (Saccharine is said to be 300 times as sweet as sugar!), it probably is easer to just dissolve a few drops of sweetener in the water used to mix the feed than adding several kilos of sugar (skewing weight ratios as well).
(Of course, a third theory is that sweeteners are simply cheaper, and since all the stuff is supposed to do is sweeten the deal for the pigs - literally - it doesn't matter if it's sugar or something else. As long as the pigs chow down and remain healthy, who cares.)
OK, that's about it, I'm done. I'm actually more relaxed now.
If anyone is still reading: thanks for your time, and I congratulate you to your tenacity.
One last fun fact: There even is a klingon word for Saccharine - "HaQchor". So it seems we're not going to get rid of it any time soon :-)
(The reason there is a word for it is that Okrand thought that it's one of the three things that are definitely goin to exist even in the 22nd century. Cockroaches was another.)
|12-04-2013, 04:27 PM||#2|
Join Date: Jul 2011
The problem I see with artificial sweeteners is that they make things taste like crap and they change the texture of your baking to be non-appetizing.
|12-04-2013, 04:30 PM||#3|
Join Date: Sep 2012
Device: Nook ST, Kindle Keyboard, Kindle NT, Nook HD+
I am thankful for artificial sweeteners or I would have to give up coffee and tea. I am diabetic. It makes a difference.
The real problem is that people think they can just have MORE if they use artificial sweeteners. They never consider having LESS or simply enjoying the amount they have now.
As far as the studies, I always keep in mind that first, I am not a mouse, and second, what is safe for 2-4 uses a day may not be as safe for 8-12 servings (or more) a day. Lots of people have gotten diarrhea by consuming a lot of artificial sweetener a day. That's why Halls Sugar Free now has a mention of it on their product. There are many 'chemicals' that you come into contact daily that are of no harm to you unless you are using a lot of it. Oxygen for example.
|12-04-2013, 04:47 PM||#4|
Join Date: Jun 2009
Device: Cybook, iRex, PB, Onyx
We've once had a similar discussion in the Politics and Religion subforum (if you choose to enter it). Maybe some thoughts from this thread are interesting for you.
|12-04-2013, 05:23 PM||#5|
Gentleman & Cynic
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: 5 generation native Texan
Device: BeBook/Openinkpot, CYbook 3rd gen awaiting RTF software upgrade
Cyclamate was banned in the US in 1969, due to a set of tests in rats. The details are a bit gross, so I'll leave them out. In the tests, 30 % of the rats with cyclamate got cancer, 10% of the control group (using glucose as the control group) got cancer.
Only the dose makes the poison...
|12-04-2013, 05:37 PM||#6|
Time of Gifts
Join Date: Mar 2009
Device: Kindle PW, Kindle Fire HDX 8.9"
As far as “artificial” sweeteners go I avoid them, which is not hard to do as a never drink soda pop or similar fluids. I would rather just drink water. When I have tried artificial sweeteners, in my coffee for example, I find that they have relative to ordinary sugar, a peculiar and unpleasant taste and after taste. Since I don't have that much sugar in my diet anyway, as far as beverages go it's water (and more water, and yet more water), one glass of orange juice in the morning, milk on my cereal in the morning, and the occasional (in some weeks maybe 2-4 pints and in more none) beer if I am eating out. If people must substitute sweetened carbonated water for just plain water I don't see that artificial sweeteners are bad, in fact depending on how much they drink it may be better than those sweetened with sucrose or fructose.
However, such artificial sweeteners should be tested and approved for use in foods by a body, in the US it is the FDA, that is at least theoretically looking out for the public interest and not that of private companies looking to use them in products. That some chemical occurs naturally does not mean that it is safe or that its use in food should not be restricted. Aflatoxins occur naturally in all sorts of raw foods, but because of toxicity, including being an extremely potent carcinogen, at least in the US standards are set on maximum allowable amounts present.
Also when a chemical is labeled as a carcinogen and it's use is banned or maximum concentration levels are set this is almost always based on tests on animals that are exposed to very high concentrations over short periods. The results are extrapolated to obtain risk factors for humans at low concentrations over extended periods. It would be very difficult, take a lot of time, and cost a great deal to conduct experiments to establish the effects of long term exposure to humans over long times, actually near impossible to isolate the effects to just the one chemical.
|12-04-2013, 07:02 PM||#7|
Time Enough at Last
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: New England
Device: iPad 3, iPhone 5, Kindle 3, Fire, Sony PRS-350
Aspartame is horrible for people suffering from pvc's.
|12-05-2013, 11:19 AM||#8|
binomial: homo legentem
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Alabama, USA
Device: iriver Story HD; Archos 80 G9
I also consider high fructose corn syrup to be an "artificial" sweetener.
Unless is is "naturally" occurring sugars being eaten directly from a fruit, etc., then it is artificial. The only additive really natural is honey. The cane sugars are kinda borderline for me, but I will accept them as more natural than others.
|12-06-2013, 07:38 AM||#9|
Join Date: Feb 2013
Device: kobo touch
I have tea with artificial sweetener (if I used sugar the amount of tea I drink would mean I would be a lot fatter than I am) and I am constantly being bombarded by a 'well intended/meaning friend' with information that it causes cancer...
|12-07-2013, 11:43 AM||#10|
Join Date: Mar 2012
Food has no moral agency, can't be evil
Aspartame gave a good friend seizures. Sucralose has such an impact on another friend that she can only eat a single piece of candy with it unless she wants to be stuck in the bathroom for hours. That other one with the laxative effect, olesia or something like that, was so bad that even I had problems with it.
There are just as many serious downsides to artificial sweeteners as there are to regular sugar, with the added anti-bonus of the mechanisms and physical impact not being nearly as well known as sugar because they're new products. It's a pick-your-poison situation.
The CANCER!! people are super-annoying. My response to them is 'So does oxygen. Are you going to stop breathing?'
Last edited by Rbneader; 12-07-2013 at 11:45 AM.
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