Previously I have written about the evils of sugar. If you thought that was scary, there is something I believe is actually worse – the artificial sweeteners that are offered by the food industry as a “no calorie” alternative.

Why are they dangerous? Quite simply they are a mix of chemicals combined in a laboratory to create a “sweet” taste. They are not food. What has happened since artificial sweeteners have been introduced? Rather than reducing our sugar intake, it has actually increased! Several recent studies have shown a connection between consuming artificial sweeteners and a subsequent increase in food or calorie intake. What does this mean? It means they are making us hungrier! Why? Because of what happens in your body.

Our body was designed a long time ago, way before the introduction of these and other chemicals. Artificial sweeteners were created to trick the body into thinking it was getting something sweet. However, the body is never really tricked. It has received the signal of “sweet” and therefore mobilizes to deal with “sweet”. The proponents of artificial sweeteners say they are good for you because they do not raise insulin levels as regular sugar does. There’s a catch – they still raise insulin levels. Insulin is released to help process the sweet and when no recognizable sweet is found there is excess insulin in the blood stream that has to be dealt with. But now it is worse because your body is looking for the food which it can not find because there is none. This makes your body want food, thus the increase in food and calorie intake. Let’s review this very important point. Your body still produces insulin in response to artificial sweeteners. One of the functions of insulin is fat storage. This does not sound like consuming artificial sweeteners would be a good strategy for someone who is diabetic (insulin) or attempting to lose weight (fat storage).

Artificial sweeteners are used in all types of products – soft drinks, sports drinks (diet and “regular”), hot chocolate drink mixes, protein shakes, nutritional bars and shakes, gelatins, puddings, apple sauce, sauces, toppings, syrups, processed fruits, gum, candy, baked goods, snack foods, dairy products, and even in flu remedies, toothpastes and lozenges. These products will be labeled as “low calorie”, “sugar free”, “fat free”, or “low fat.” They are also in products not labeled “sugar free.” They are in products were they don’t even appear on the list (per government regulations if an ingredient is less than 2% it does not have to be listed). They are all over. You have to read your labels and even then you can not be sure.

The most common artificial sweeteners are sucralose and aspartame. Independent researchers, particularly in Europe, have found these chemicals harmful to human health. In fact, scientific research has linked artificial sweeteners to weight gain, disruption of sleep patterns, sexual dysfunction, increases in cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus, and diabetes. Why these outcomes? Again, it rests with how the body works. The body does not recognize them as a source of nutrition, and therefore it struggles to process them. Since they may not be completely processed, they have nowhere to go, so they may accumulate in the body. They can accumulate in vital organs such as the brain or liver, they can pollute the bloodstream, and they form the basis for eventual cell mutations. All of this can cause serious damage to your body. How long and what symptoms will develop will vary depending on the individual.

If you want more details on the scientific studies that have been conducted I suggest you go to the following web site: Dr. Hull is an aspartame poison survivor. She has an interesting background and is an expert in the dangers of the artificial sweeteners and has written several books on the subject. If you want some practical tips on reducing sugar in your life I recommend the book Get the Sugar Out by Ann Louise Gittleman.

Bernard Rosen, PhD is a Nutrition Consultant and Educator. He works with individuals, groups, and at corporations to create individualized nutrition and wellness programs. His office is in Coeur d’Alene, ID. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, e-mail at, call (208) 771-6570 or go to