The Truth about Artificial Sweeteners

Many people use artificial sweeteners because they believe it will help them lose weight since they are “zero calories.” The problem is that artificial sweeteners cause carbohydrate cravings. They also inhibit your body’s ability to signal to your brain that it is full, so you are more likely to keep eating.

Artificial sweeteners disrupt metabolic function, leading to poor digestion and weight gain over time. The sweeteners listed below are usually used in processed, industrial foods that are low in nutrients and full of artificial ingredients. Check your ingredient lists and if you see any of these artificial sweeteners are in the foods you are going to eat.  Chances are high that if artificial sweeteners are in the ingredients list, the food is not whole, real, quality food.

Artificial sweeteners are all made in laboratories and do not occur anywhere in nature. Our bodies treat these substances as toxins, not food. Artificial sweeteners have been shown to contribute to many health issues, including, weight gain, disruption of sleep patterns, migraines, memory loss, diabetes, kidney damage, some types of cancers, thyroid dysfunction, seizures, and other degenerative diseases.

Aspartame: (Equal or NutraSweet):

was an accidental laboratory discovery by a scientist experimenting with a new ulcer drug. He accidentally licked his finger after touching the chemical.

Testing of aspartame showed that it produced brain tumors in mice. There have been over 90 different reported symptoms associated with the use of aspartame, including migraines, dizziness, memory loss, depression, heart palpitations, joint pain, nausea, vision problems, panic attacks, diarrhea, and convulsions.

It is in many diet sodas, gum, candy, table top sweeteners, dairy products, and many “sugar free” products. “Zero calories” is not a good enough reason to risk the health dangers this product poses. Please check your food and drink labels and avoid aspartame.

Be aware of artificial sweeteners in your food

Be aware of artificial sweeteners in your food


Sucralose: (Splenda): 

was discovered by a team of researchers seeking to create a new insecticide. One of the researchers was told to “test” the new chemical and mistakenly thought he was told to “taste” it. He found it to be sweet.

It contains chlorine, a known carcinogen. There have been over 100 animal studies to test the safety of sucralose. Results showed brain lesions, thymus gland shrinkage, decreased white blood cell count, swelling of the liver and kidneys, miscarriage and infertility. Sucralose also has a similar molecular structure as many pesticides which can accumulate in the body’s tissues over time.

Saccharin: (Sweet’N Low):

was accidentally discovered by a scientist who was experimenting with toluene, a coal tar derivative used in gasoline, paint, and paint thinner. It was banned in the United States and Europe for many years, but unfortunately is now allowed into the food supply. Saccharin has been shown to cause bladder cancer and damage to reproductive organs in rodents.

It was listed by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen and was required to have a warning label until the year 2000.  At that time the law was changed when the diet-food industry put pressure on the FDA to get it approved.

Acesulfame Potassium or Acesulfame K: 

This artificial sweetener, which is about 200 times sweeter than sugar, is found in many protein powders, sodas and other processed foods today. According the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) it is anything but safe. Rodent studies showed this sweetener to cause breast tumors, lung tumors, leukemia, respiratory diseases, and thyroid dysfunction.

Acesulfame K contains a carcinogen called methylene chloride, which can cause headaches, thyroid disturbances, depression, confusion, liver and kidney damage, visual problems, and cancer. It is also often paired with another food additive to mask its aftertaste.

High Fructose Corn Syrup:

In many soft drinks and processed foods, High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is anything but healthy. Numerous studies have shown that HFCS is an addictive sweetener that contributes to the development of metabolic syndrome, diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, leaky gut and obesity. This highly processed sweetener has a molecular arrangement not found anywhere in nature.

Producing the syrup involves sophisticated laboratory equipment and is not a product you could make at home with a few ears of corn. Food manufactures have started replacing cane sugar with HFCS because it is cheaper and sweeter, being 55% fructose. HFCS is absorbed more quickly into your blood stream than cane sugar, causing insulin spikes, sugar cravings, and weight gain.

Over time, HFCS contributes to a condition called fatty liver disease which is being diagnosed in more children today than ever before. It also contributes to leaky gut, a condition where holes are formed in the intestinal lining, allowing bacteria and food particles to enter the blood stream.

The FDA has also found some HFCS to be contaminated with mercury, which is extremely toxic. This is especially concerning because HFCS is in many products marketed to children, such as breakfast cereals, yogurts, dairy products, breads, juices and candy.


While animal studies do not guarantee the same results will occur in humans, it raises serious questions as to the safety of these products, especially when consumed in large amounts in products like diet sodas.

Educate yourself and learn about artificial sweeteners in the foods you consume.  Check labels and make sure that you are eating as many whole, natural foods as possible.

If you are suffering from or taking prescription drugs for any of the health issues, please consider removing artificial sweeteners from your diet. The best way to determine if they are affecting your health is to eliminate these chemicals and see how you feel without them. While refined white sugar is also hazardous to your health, there are many natural options that are actually good for you! The key is to choose things that occur in nature and have been altered as little as possible. Make the switch to natural sugars such as whole fruit, raw local honey, 100% pure maple syrup, natural stevia, raw coconut sugar, whole raw unrefined cane sugar, and blackstrap molasses. All of these natural sweeteners are brimming with nutrients and do not pose the health risks of artificial sweeteners.

Read more about Sugar in our Blog


  1. Mark Hyman, “5 Reasons why High Fructose Corn Syrup will Kill You.”
  2. Joseph Mercola and Dr. Kendra Degan Pearsall, Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, Nutrasweet and the FDA may be Hazardous to Your Health (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006), 19.
  3. Dee McCafferey, CDC, The Science of Skinny (Boston Massachusetts, 2012) 75-83.
  4. Center for Science in the Public Interest, “Chemical Cuisine, Saccharin.
  5. Ademir Barianni Rodero, “Toxcicity of Sucralose in Humans: A Review,” International Journal Morphol 27, no. 1 (2009) 239-244.
  6. Janet Starr Hull, Splenda: Is it Safe or Not? (Dallas, Texas: The Pickle Press, 2004), 21.




Elena Spraguer

About Elena Spraguer

Elena obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health from Saint Cloud State University in St. Cloud, MN. She has extensive experience in the healthcare industry and continues to work to advocate healthy living. She is passionate about educating people on how to focus on good nutrition and promoting a safer, cleaner food supply. She loves yoga, baking, and all things coconut. Elena lives with her husband Shawn in beautiful Castle Rock, Colorado.
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