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The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners: Are They Necessary for Our Kids?

By Darlene Oakley HERWriter
 
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The Skinny on Artificial Sweeteners: Are They Necessary for Our Kids? 3 5 4
the skinny on artificial sweeteners and kids
Vladimir Padalko/PhotoSpin

The New York Times reported that at the end of Summer 2011, 11 percent of the food items on supermarket shelves were labeled "reduced sugar". (5) We all think we’re making healthy food choices for our children if we find products that are low in sugar.

But the USDA estimates that the average American is supplied with 140 pounds of caloric sweeteners per year, working out to about 43 teaspoons for every man, woman and child every day (6). Some are starting to question which is the lesser of two evils --sugar or artificial sweeteners?

How do Artificial Sweeteners Work?

Artificial sweeteners are between 160 and 13,000 times sweeter than sugar meaning that only a small amount is necessary to get the same sweetness as normal sugar with the added bonus of fewer calories. (2)

Common kinds of artificial sweeteners include:

• Aspartame – NutraSweet or Equal

• Cyclamate – Sucaryl

• Acesulfame K – Sunett or Sweet One

• Saccharin – Sweet ‘N Low, Sugar Twin

• Sucralose – Splenda

When we eat something that contains sugar, our bodies release insulin to help our cells absorb the sugar, and serotonin which makes us feel good. When we eat foods containing artificial sweeteners, however, there is no insulin or serotonin release. (5)

The Argued Cons to Artificial Sweeteners

For some, once the body realizes it’s been cheated out of the feel-good results of eating something sweet, it may crave carbohydrates to satisfy that need. (5)

There have also been claims (and studies that both refute and support these claims) that overuse of or allergy/sensitivity to artificial sweeteners can result in symptoms such as:

• Hyperactivity

• Skin rashes

• Dizziness

• Numbness, diarrhea

• Muscle aches

• Headaches/migraines

• Interfere with good gut enzymes and digestion (particularly in relation to medication absorption)

How Can I Better Manage Sugar Intake?

In the end, the issue really is keeping our body energized while balancing blood sugar levels. Here are a few sugar control tips:

Sugar Control Tip #1: Safe Carbs

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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