Tag Archives: artificial sweeteners

Food Fight: Sugar vs. Artificial Sweeteners

About a year ago I was sitting in a coffee shop in Topeka, Kansas with my husband, eating a vegan oatmeal cookie and doing some reading online. One of the articles I came across was ‘Is Sugar Toxic?‘ by The New York Times. And by the time I finished the 6,000+ word story, I was deeply regretting that cookie.

The article discussed the research of Dr. Robert Lustig – a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California – who has deemed sugar as the major cause of most of the health-related diseases Americans are facing today like obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. And he believes 75% of these diseases are preventable if we’d just cut back on the sweet stuff.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta recently did a special on Dr. Lustig on 60 Minutes, and the story seemed to catch the attention of other media outlets. This has brought the ‘sugar is toxic’ discussion back full circle, forcing Americans once again to consider whether or not it’s their sugar habit that’s making them sick. (more…)

Pepsi Next: Fewer Calories but Creates More Concern

Pepsi just officially released its newest beverage: Pepsi Next.

Pepsi says the new beverage has 60 percent less sugar and 60 percent fewer calories than regular Pepsi. But, in order to keep the sweetness but reduce the amount of sugar and calories, Pepsi Next features all of the sugar substitutes it has into one beverage. It combined high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, Sucralose and acesulfame potassium.

This is quite the sweetener combo and if you are like most, seeing this list may make you wonder what you’re going to be chugging. Even though Pepsi Next does contain a lot of artificial sweeteners, the fact that it is only half the calories of regular Pepsi could be a plus for those who want to reduce their sugar intake and cut calories to lose weight or maintain their weight.

Elisa Zied, MS, RD, CDN, and author of Nutrition at Your Fingertips said in an email, “If someone were to replace one full calorie soda for a Pepsi Next each day, he or she would save 60 calories—that’s 420 calories a week. They may not lose weight, but they’ll certainly save nutrient-poor sugar calories and perhaps leave more room in the diet for more healthful foods like a small piece of fruit.”

Here is some quick info on these artificial sweeteners included in the Pepsi Next that you may want to know about:

Aspartame, also found in Diet Pepsi, is one of the more controversial artificial sweeteners out there. The FDA has claimed its research has not shown any adverse health complications from aspartame. But according to MedicineNet.com, there is some evidence suggesting headaches, depression, increased hunger, and even cancer can be related to consuming aspartame.

Sucralose, also found in Pepsi One, is most well known for its claim to be made from sugar. It is usually  found in Splenda and is 600 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar). It is claimed to have no calories by itself. According to Sucralose.org, it is not a natural product. The website claims it is made from a chemically modified sugar molecule. The FDA reviewed studies in human beings and animals. It determined there was no evidence of it causing cancer and posed no risk to human health. According to MedicineNet, the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for sucralose is set at 5 mg per kilogram of body weight per day. So if you weighed 200 pounds, your ADI would be 455 mg. According to Pepsi’s product information for every 12 ounces, there is approximately 14 mg of sucralose. (more…)

Splenda Study Finds the Sweetener Alters Gut Microflora

In a recent study performed by Duke University on the artificial sweetener Splenda, research suggests that the sweetener causes adverse reactions to intestinal functions in rats.

Over a 12 week period, rats were given approved doses of Splenda, which is comprised of the high-potency artificial sweetener sucralose. Their fecal samples were collected weekly and tested for any changes. Test results showed several adverse reactions including:

  • the amount of good bacteria in the intestines was reduced
  • the pH level in the intestines increased
  • the sweetener interfered with the absorption of certain medications

The study went on to show that Splenda alters the gut microflora. This is significant because “gut microorganisms refer to beneficial bacteria that live (are alive!) in the intestines,” says our resident registered dietitian Mary Hartley, RD, MPH.


AminoSweet Announced as the New Name for Aspartame

It’s still Aspartame. Reminiscent of the recent High Fructose Corn Syrup name change, possibly in an effort to change our opinions, Aspartame will now be referred to as AminoSweet. Don’t fall for a more “natural” name – this stuff is still bad news. Hopes are that by using a more natural sounding name, consumers will feel more at ease with its pervasive use in more than 6,000 products.

Originally introduced more than 25 years ago, this “accidental discovery” has quickly taken over the food industry.  Two naturally-occurring amino acids (aspartic acid and phenylalanine) were first combined in an effort to produce an anti-ulcer drug. Pharmacist James Schlatter discovered that the new compound had a very sweet taste. The company was granted a change on its FDA approval application from drug to food additive. Thus, aspartame was born.