The use of artificial sweeteners has steadily increased in the American food supply over the past few decades. Studies examining the impact of artificial sweeteners show that they simulate the taste of sugar and are reported to contain less calories than sugar, but may have other adverse health effects and may even interfere with weight loss. One such study, conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital, focused primarily on aspartame and its risks towards weight loss.

Aspartame is a sugar substitute that is known for its lack of a bitter after-taste; one of the characteristics that make it famous amongst consumers. It also gained popularity in low calorie, sugar-free drinks such as soda as a substitute for people who are diabetic and conscious about weight gain.

We know now that aspartame has some unique effects on the gut. One of the artificial sweeteners byproducts, phenylalanine, is thought to produce an effect that blocks an enzyme beneficial to the regulation of gut flora. This means that aspartame can disrupt the community of bacteria in your system. This bacteria is responsible for regulating your immune system and breaking down the foods you eat. This also contributes to a poor living environment for your normal beneficial bacteria that inhabit your gut.

Aspartame can also contribute to the inflammatory process by disrupting the process by which good bacteria exist in the gut. This complicates the ability to lose weight because of inflammation in the body and the general affect that comes with it. Long term inflammation leads to greater health problems, causing serious risks. And while it is advertised as a way to help with weight loss, it often has the opposite effect leading to weight gain.

This study may explain how aspartame promotes glucose intolerance and obesity in mice. It also contains interesting findings on aspartame and a possible link to diabetes. Researchers looked at the subject’s sugar response to aspartame and found that glucose intolerance, or a factor, which leads to high blood sugar, was increased in those taking the aspartame. Hyperglycemia is linked to diabetes, a disorder rooted around elevated blood sugar and the body’s disruption to producing insulin to process the sugar correctly.

Aspartame may be a substitute for sugar, but the health risks that have been observed in studies make it difficult to justify its use. Artificial sweeteners should be avoided because of these potential risks. Consider using natural alternatives to sugar substitutes, such as stevia, Lohan or raw honey. Try to find sugars that are not processed. Most sugar substitutes have no nutritional value and send signals to the brain telling you to consume more.

There are ways to make life sweeter while still watching after your health at the same time. The best thing to do is focus on unaltered sweeteners that are in their natural state!