Why artificial sweeteners are no better than sugar

Ah, to be able to eat all manner of cakes, cookies, candy bars and other assorted sweets without having to pay the price of sugar overload! Such has been the dream of sugar addicts and diabetics—not to mention scientists and manufacturers—since the late 1800s, when saccharine, the first artificial sweetener, was discovered. Since then, there have been many more sugar substitutes, all promising better health and fulfilment of the sweet-tooth dream—but delivering only a dangerous delusion. Although these products provide zero calories, they’re still sweet, and therein lies the rub.

If these products truly delivered what they promise, if calories truly were the only yardstick by which to measure the effect of sweet foods on the body, then a simple test would show the superiority of artificial sweeteners. Take some people eating something made with sugar and some people eating the same food but made with a sugar substitute, follow them for a while, and compare the results. Without a doubt, the second group would be healthier. That’s exactly what researchers from the Boston University School of Medicine did (see article sources below). They tracked some 9,000 people for several years and compared the health of those who drank regular sodas and those who drank diet sodas.

To everyone’s surprise, the two groups had roughly the same risk of heart disease. Only people who drank less sodas altogether, whether regular or diet, were at lower risk. Clearly the artifical sweeteners fared no better than sugar. And the experts have no explanation—only theories.

An explanation can be found in Chinese medicine. The flavour of a food, among other things, determines how it affects us. For example, a cheese sandwich, a ham sandwich and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich affect our body differently, even if the sandwiches are adjusted to have the same caloric value.

Sweet foods have the characteristic of lowering heart energy. Over time, a diet that’s high in sweets is likely to cause heart problems. It doesn’t matter whether the sweetener is sugar, honey or an artificial substitute, the result will be the same. The only difference is that refined and manufactured sweeteners are more concentrated than most natural ones, so their effect is stronger.

There are a few easy steps you can take to minimize the risk to the heart:

  1. reduce the amount of sweet foods and drinks in your diet;
  2. choose foods that are less sweet; in general, naturally sweet foods are better than foods made with concentrated sweeteners, such as refined sugar and sugar substitutes;
  3. eat more sour, spicy and pungent foods, if they agree with you; they counteract sweetness;
  4. eat beans; they help sluggish digestion, which is often the cause of the craving;
  5. learn to listen to your body’s signals; it will usually tell you what your body really needs.

If you try any or all the suggestions above, chances are that you’ll soon be giving up artificial sweeteners for good—and improve your health and well-being in the process.

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