Artificial Sweeteners – The Big Evil Everyone Warns You About

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We all know that soda is high in sugars, and drinking even one can per day can add a boatload of calories to your diet, right? Unsurprisingly, with a lot of us having a sugar addiction, diet and zero calorie sodas have emerged a few decades ago to allow us to enjoy sodas and not take in the calories.

These days, however, the mantra has been reversed. People are starting to say that it is better to stick to sugar because artificial sweeteners, even those derived organically, are harmful and in fact carcinogenic. It has truly become the “big evil” that everyone in the health and wellness industry is speaking of these days.

Here is a little bit of history – the first artificial sweetener is known as Aspartame, and it was discovered by accident when a scientist was mixing two particular compounds in his lab. Much like the material of post-it notes, someone found another use for a seemingly useless discovery, and the rest is history.

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After extensive safety testing, aspartame was approved as a sweetener in the 1980s, and is now the leading type of non-sugar sweetener in the world today. Of course, anything that makes it big will attract haters. The hoax claims started to pile on, the most common one being that aspartame was first developed as an ant poison, followed by the one that it releases formaldehyde, thereby leading to severe health problems.

However, there is a claim that has some basis to it. Studies on rats have verified that there is a link between aspartame consumption and incidence of some cancers. While this may be true, it is often blown out of proportion. The amount of aspartame the rats were exposed to is much greater than the amount humans could ever consume in food and drinks. Therefore, this claim really has no credibility to it.

In my personal life, every time I pick up a bottle or can of diet soda, I often get a look of disapproval from others, and this is something I have learnt to live with, and that’s cool. However, when they start with that “you’re going to get cancer” rhetoric, it makes my blood boil. Not just because they are judging me, but also because of how clueless they are.

However, as a calm, composed and rational person, I do not blow up in their face. Instead, I take the moral high ground of being cool, calm and collected, as I start explaining to them what the facts are, and use evidence and reason to back my claims. It usually does not change their mind, but is enough to shut them up. Maybe I do not win, but I sure as hell do not lose on this one either.

Hey, they started it, right?

Mark

 

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