CHOICE membership

Artificial Sweeteners

We’re currently doing some research on artificial/non-sugar sweeteners and we’d love to hear your thoughts.

  • Do you use non-sugar sweeteners or products that contain them like diet soft drink?

  • Have you used them to lose weight or reduce your sugar intake?

  • Do you feel comfortable using artificial/non-sugar sweeteners?

Thanks in advance for your contributions, and if you have anything further to add, please add it to your comments below.

7 Likes

Thank you for the opportunity to comment. I most certainly do not use non sugar sweeteners or products. I don’t feel comfortable at all using them either.

Artificial sweeteners are associated with a large array of adverse health effects. These additives are found in many products not just diet soft drinks. You will often find them in yoghurts, desserts, cordials, juices, vitamins and medicines.

Aspartame is considered to be one of the most dangerous additives on the market that is added to our foods. In the US, it accounts for over 75% of reactions reported to the US Food and Drug Administration. Unfortunately we don’t have a similar body here in Australia to report reactions to.

The range of symptoms that can result from the ingestion of aspartame (artificial sweeteners) include:

  • headaches and migraines
  • dizziness
  • seizures
  • numbness
  • rashes
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • depression
  • insomnia
  • vision problems
  • hearing loss
  • heart palpitations
  • breathing difficulties
  • tinnitus
  • vertigo
  • memory loss
  • joint pain.

These artificial sweeteners are an excitotoxin (similar to MSG). Exposure levels need to be monitored so that damage isn’t caused to brain cells.

Aspartame has been linked to brain cancer (causes brain tumours in rats)

A 2005 study confirmed that aspartame caused lymphomas and leukaemia in female animals at similar dosages to what humans have.

Another study in 2012 studied the link between aspartame intake and cancer and found a clear association between aspartame consumption and non-hodgkins lymphoma and leukemia.

A Norwegian study in 2012 showed the effect of consuming one artificially sweetened diet drink a day by a pregnant woman was 25% more likely to give birth more prematurely than those that avoided aspartame.

The use of aspartame despite these studies is still permitted in our food with no move from FSANZ to review / limit / ban this additive.

I welcome Choice shining a light on this!

8 Likes

I use them as I know that sugars create an additive response/cravings for me.

On those rare occasions when I need a sweetener at home I use stevia, xylitol or eryritol (and blends of those). They don’t taste quite as good as sugar (but good enough) which also helps them be less addictive!

I only rarely buy products that have artificial sweeteners (or sugars) added and again prefer natural ones such as stevia, xylitol or eryritol. There are more products now with natural sugar alternatives. I avoid aspartame altogether.

5 Likes

Thanks for your comment @jen ! Is there a particular reason why you avoid aspartame?

3 Likes

No, but in a recent trip to Chile we found that many products contain stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) rather than sugar.

No.

No. There is some preliminary research finding showing that artificial sweeteners may damage the balance of gut bacteria potentially causing some flow on health effects. While the results are preliminary and there is much research to do in the field, there appears to be enough evidence to question their use and associated side effects.

7 Likes

I completely avoid artificial sweeteners in purchased products, and don’t use them in cooking myself.
As written above, there are health issues associated with artificial sweeteners, some of which may exacerbate problems caused by eating too much sugar, such as gut bacteria species balance.

I have read the list of contents on stevia sweetener packets, and they contained other artifical sweeteners.

We did grow a stevia bush at home, and tried using it in cooking once or twice, but I didn’t find it particularly nice. It is like ‘sweet’ but different, and IMO, not particularly pleasant, which I guess is why they add other artificial sweeteners to it in commercial products.

These days if I’m cooking something that needs sweetening, I only use locally produced honey.

6 Likes

I’ve read negative things about it over the years. Also about other artificial sweeteners, but aspartame gets the worst press.

4 Likes

Artificial-anything is fooling your body, for an outcome that isn’t natural in the first place. The point I feel that is missed in these kinds of debates is the question of what is a normal amount of “x” anyway. We over-sweeten everything to blazers, then find its an issue, so we substitute artificial sweeteners to ‘fix’ the problem.

Fix the real problem - go back to real food in real proportions !! (and yes @gordon - we too have a local honey-man! nothing comes close :slight_smile: )

Check out http://thatsugarfilm.com/ to see some relevant stuff on sugar including the film itself … and just accept that artificial sweeteners are a rancid band-aid …

5 Likes

… and to answer the questions. No, No and No.

1 Like

In reply to your questions:

No
No
Don’t care

A general observation: this topic will generate more heat than light as the safety of synthetic sweeteners has been a source of dispute for half a century and now the internet opinion machine is there to fan the flames.

In particular aspartame has been the subject of a bazzilion rumours, smear campaigns, studies, hoaxes and reviews. Aspartame has been studied ad nauseum over a period of decades. While the medical view is that it is not harmful (unless you have PKU) some of that mud has surely stuck. There is all the drama of contradictory findings and allegations of conspiracy … and we are off to the races.

5 Likes

I definitely consume products with non-sugar sweetners. While I don’t specifically seek them out they do help me manage my carbohydrate intake by lowering the carbohydrate load of the food I consume (I am a type 2 diabetic :wink: ).
The main products we have non-sugar sweetners in is yoghurt and home baked goods (e.g. almond meal based cake). I might drink a zero sugar or diet softdrink once or twice a month.

4 Likes

No, I don’t use them or use products that obviously contain them (like diet soft drinks). I might inadvertently consume them in a product though (eg if for some reason an artificial sweetener is added to something like mayonnaise).

I haven’t used them to reduce sugar intact as I don’t consume a lot of that either.

I prefer to avoid them. If I bake I use sugar. Sensible consumption won’t do anyone (without particular health issues) any harm.

3 Likes

It certainly does seem to generate some strong opinions, @syncretic! It’s a shame the debate has been muddied by some unscientific fear-mongering.

2 Likes

Not a fan of sweeteners…To me if it’s your weight your concerned about.You probably shouldn’t be drinking any soft drink anyway even the diet one

4 Likes

I use Natvia as it is plant based. I use it in cooking and in my coffee. I doesn’t have a bad aftertaste and is sweeter than sugar so I use less. I think it’s great though it is quite expensive.

1 Like

My wife is a type 1 diabetic (since age 19) and we have used sweeteners for tea / coffee since her diagnosis as well as using a liquid sweetener for things such as cereals.

She is now 67 and I am 69.

We have no issues with using the sweeteners we do.

2 Likes

No, I don’t generally use them, although I have used stevia in the past. I have IBS, so aspartame or artificial sweeteners are a bad idea. I have read that they aren’t good for your gut and a dietician warned me against them.

I also wouldn’t recommend people use them to lose weight. From what I’ve read people tend to assume they have leeway to eat badly the rest of the time and I certainly witnessed this with some fellow workers who were always drinking diet drinks, but then eating nothing but fatty fried take-away.

I am happy to use stevia, although I don’t find it as sweet as sugar, so it takes a bit of an adjustment. Most of the time I prefer sugar-free to actually be sugar free.

3 Likes

I have used various artificial sweeteners for over 40 years without any detrimental effects (that I am aware of). I prefer aspartame or Splenda as I find Stevia has the same after taste as saccharin used to.

I do use it to keep my weight in check as I had anorexia as a teenager and, as a result, I am very conscious of my body (skewed body image!).

I am comfortable using artificial sweeteners because, for me, the alternative (getting fat) is worse.

Given the amount of overweight people in our society today, it is difficult to decide which is worse, lots of sugar or using sweeteners.

2 Likes

30 years ago after several bouts of tonsillitis and antibiotics I developed chronic thrush. GP advised eliminate all natural sugars etc. First time in my life used artificial sweeteners, several weeks later debilitating migraines almost daily. When made the connection stopped all artificial sweeteners and migraines also ceased.

1 Like

Hi, I use a sugar/stevia mix by a major sugar company so while it is sugar based it’s the only one I’ve found I can tolerate the taste (and aftertaste) of, and it has halved my use so while I probably still use too much sugar it’s less too much.

1 Like