Sweetener refers to a substance used to sweeten food or drink, especially one other than sugar. A sugar substitute is a food additive that has a sweet taste like sugar while containing much less food energy. Many sugar substitutes are produced synthetically, and others are produced by nature. Those that are not produced by nature are considered artificial sweeteners, generally. Used as a tabletop sweetener or in frozen desserts, beverages, chewing gum, and gelatin; nearly 200 times as sweet as sugar is the sweetener aspartame. Frances Bloomfield, author, reflects on the subject here:
“Among artificial sweeteners, one of the most common and controversial is aspartame. This zero-calorie sweetener, typically used in a number of foods and beverages as a sugar substitute, has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years. There is a multitude of reasons for this, many of which should give you pause for thought the next time you reach for a can of sugar-free Coke.
Weight gain: Although aspartame is said to curb cravings, it actually does anything but. Numerous studies have pointed to aspartame actually increasing waist circumference and weight. The science behind isn’t totally clear yet, but several theories have been put forward. One possibility is that the sweetness tricks your body into expecting a set number of calories to come with the taste. The confusion results in your body responding through fluctuations in your weight. Another theory suggests that aspartame negatively impacts gut flora composition, in turn changing how your body stockpiles fat. Yet another theory states that this may be due to aspartame making it difficult for you to control your appetite. Whatever the exact mechanism, aspartame won’t be doing your waistline any favors.
Diabetes: On top of causing weight gain, aspartame also puts you at higher risk of diabetes. This isn’t just caused by the additional weight but also by the effects on your gut flora. Unbalancing the ratio of good-to-bad gut bacteria causes inflammation and encourages glucose intolerance. Additionally, another bodily response brought on by the aforementioned confusion is that your body produces way too much insulin.”
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