Sweet it “ain’t”

Why sugar-free doesn’t equal problem-free! (Careful picture today  – I don’t want any particular cola company deciding to sue me!… oh and sorry about the grammar in the title)

It occurred to me the other day when I stopped to fill up with petrol how much cola dominated the drink shelves there. I know, I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but really, when you look at it, there is a ton of the stuff in there. There is admittedly a lot of water there too but, and it’s a big but, there is a sneaky rise in the number of flavoured, sugar-free waters now too. So, I thought it’d be a good time to have a quick review of the dangers of artificial sweeteners.  Why is it that most of the people who are overweight drink diet drinks? Why doesn’t sugar-free work? There is evidence that sugar substitutes make you fat. It seems that if you have these chemicals instead of sugar it dupes your body into thinking it’s had something sweet BUT a little while later its as though your body realises and says “Hang on a minute I haven’t had sugar after all!” and then proceeds to give you carbohydrate cravings. As a result of that you can put on more weight.

The whole area is full of controversy as animal studies are one of the primary sources of research into this. Rats, it’s been discovered, break down Aspartame (the most common artificial sweetener) in exactly the same way we do and theysuffer from a number of toxic effects even at low levels! It’s claimed that some of the worst effects are neurological and it has been found to inhibit neural growth – it messes up your brain. Reported and documented side effects in humans include:Headaches, Dizziness, Seizures, Mood disorders, Memory loss and vomiting and many, many more. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? Why would anyone drink something that has the potential to do that to them? Now, some of these side-effects affect a small proportion of individuals but would you want to take that risk? I should add that there are only a few studies that have rigourously tested these findings and it would appear that they show up more on the longer term trials.

It’s worth remembering that Aspartame started life as an ulcer drug NOT as a food additive – so every diet drink is a “dose of medicine” that you don’t need! So my message here (which is as easy to see coming as the big red lorry when they play the “holidays are coming” advert) is drink the fluid your body actually needs. The one it’s meant to have, water. I know, I know, I’m very boring but fizzy drinks have been shown to interfere with your bone density and, through these toxic sweeteners, your nervous system. So, if you really must have some cola stuff at least go for small amounts of the sugar stuff. Sugar, bad though it is, is at least slightly more natural and you have a better chance of coping with it. In small quantities! Remember the artificial sweeteners come in many forms – there’s Aspartame, Acesulphame K, Sorbitol, Saccharin (now banned in the US), Sucralose: so you have to be vigilant on those food and drink labels. They are even hidden away in things like vitamin C tablets (esp. those fizzy ones) and, I noticed the other day, chewing gum – it’s full of the stuff! So don’t drink “Diet..” OR  “Sugar-free” . If you’d like to find out more here’s a good place to start


All in all the basic message is a simple one, drink as natural a drink as you can…. preferably water. That way you are much more likely to stay healthy, hydrated and be your best.

I’ll post more about this in the near future but for now…Until next time

Yours in health

Neil Folker ChiropractorFacebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail