Advantame: Is the Newest Sweetener Really Safe?
By Dr. Caroline J. Cederquist
Earlier this year, after 37 human and animal studies, the FDA cleared high-intensity sweetener advantame for human consumption. According to the American Council on Science and Health, advantame is roughly 100 times sweeter than its chemical cousin aspartame, however, it is more stable at higher temperatures, making it easier to use in cooking.
But my worry is the effect of advantame on the body. I have advised against the widespread use of artificial sweeteners, especially when patients have metabolism dysfunction, a condition found in 90 percent of my overweight patients.
Metabolism dysfunction is the inability of the body to properly break down glucose and distribute it to cells. This means that when your body is exposed to sweet foods, your blood sugar rapidly spikes and then rapidly falls, leaving you craving more sugary, simple-carbohydrate foods.
These cravings are not your fault. They are your body's natural response to these kinds of foods, and the effect is heightened if you have metabolism dysfunction.
With artificial sweeteners, you may not consume the same amount of calories in one drink as with regular sugar, but your body still has the same reaction to the sweet taste.
Many dieters choose a diet drink with their meal without understanding that it can be just as detrimental to their diet as regular soda or other high-calorie drinks.
When the body senses the sweet taste, it sends a signal to the brain to treat the drink like real sugar. This sends the body on a roller coaster of intense cravings. So while you may have saved 150 calories by switching to diet soda, your cravings for sugary or starchy foods afterward could cause you to consume double or triple the amount of calories saved.
While the FDA may deem advantame safe, I am concerned about the risk it presents to those who have struggled with weight issues. With over half of our country suffering from obesity and metabolism dysfunction, adding another artificial sweetener to the market could lead to more people eating chemically processed drinks and foods.
Obesity is a growing problem in this country, and its effects cost millions of dollars each year. I recommend not drinking sugary drinks, either with or without artificial sweeteners, and focusing on water and natural whole foods.
In the end, your body will thank you and reward you with stable energy, fewer cravings and overall well-being.
Readers -- Do you regularly add artificial sweeteners to your drinks? Do you cook with artificial sweeteners? Are you concerned about their health affects? What other sweeteners do you use? Leave us a comment below and let us know.
Dr. Caroline Cederquist started reading statistics about obesity at a young age, as the majority of her family was overweight. Through her knowledge of weight management, she is proof that you can manage your genetic predispositions through healthy lifestyle changes. In her work, Caroline noticed that many illnesses were aggravated by problems with nutrition or weight. This inspired her interest in bariatrics, the specialty of medical weight management. Caroline developed the nutritional foundation for bistroMD, focusing on the right balance of macronutrients in the diet. Her work has been published in professional journals and she has appeared on several television shows, including Dr. Phil.