Yesterday I promised to share some tips for safely using artificial sweeteners.
I’m not a chemist or nutritionist. But running this site has peeked my interest, and I follow the topic closely.
I am also on a very strict, low carb diet. I have chosen this path because eating a small amount of carbohydrates causes me to retain an unusual amount of water–especially around my middle. That’s a problem for me, since I have never recovered fully from rib damage caused by my bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma).
But I also have a big-time sweet-tooth! So I have on-the-ground experience with artificial sweeteners, too.
So much conflicting info about the safety of these compounds. Did you link to yesterday’s article about artificial sweeteners? Here’s an excerpt to review:
Part of Dr. Williams’s confidence about safety is that the artificial sweeteners are much more intensely sweet than sugar, so people consume very little of them. Most of the white stuff in the packets is filler, not sweetener. Safety tests in animals looked at doses that were hundreds or thousands of times higher.
But critics — particularly of aspartame, sold as Equal or NutraSweet — say that health problems like headaches, neurological disorders and cancers are occurring, but that regulators are ignoring them.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group, slaps an “avoid” label on saccharin and aspartame, but deems sucralose and neotame — a newer, more intense sweetener that is chemically similar to aspartame — to be safe. The center also warns against acesulfame potassium, a less common sweetener that is rarely found in tabletop packets but is combined with other sweeteners in soda and baked goods for a more sugarlike taste. Dr. Williams’s favorite soda, Fresca, for example, is sweetened with acesulfame potassium and aspartame, as are Halls sugar-free cough drops.
For those who turn to stevia, a sweetener derived from a plant, the center gives it a “caution,” because cancer studies were conducted in only one species of lab animals. (“Just because a substance is natural does not mean that it is safe,” the center’s Web site warns.)
Lots of conflicting information, don’t you think? So what do I do?
First, I do consume too much sugar-free candy. Just because it’s sugar-free doesn’t make it low carb. But I check labels carefully and have found some that are both.
Most of these products are sweetened with sorbitol or maltitol. I don’t find those on most of these “don’t consume” lists. But that’s probably an oversight.
I also drink a liter or more of diet tonic water daily. The quinine helps prevent my muscles from cramping caused by ongoing chemotherapy maintenance. That’s sweetened by Splenda and does have some sodium, too, but not a lot.
As a person who consumes way, way too much artificial sweetener, I have one important tip to share: Moderation.
My sweetener packet of choice is stevia. But I don’t use that much of that, either. Guess I’m an equal opportunity artificial sweetener user. I consume some of them all, but not much of each.
No one knows how much is too much. Most dieticians would recommend cutting artificial sweeteners out of your diet altogether. But I’ve conceded that’s not going to be me!
So I practice moderation and don’t exclude any of them. Or maybe that’s worse?
Feel good, keep smiling and “sweet” dreams! Pat