Long-term use of popular fake sugar increases belly fat

This one is a straight-out warning for those of you who make a habit of using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. That includes drinking diet soda.

By substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar in your diet, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Current research shows that one sweetener in particular actually increases body fat and may lead to other serious health concerns.

So why are major health organizations still recommending the use of this sweetener?

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Aspartame: Why it doesn’t work

University of Minnesota Medical School and School of Public Health researchers led a 2-year-long study on the relationship between dietary intake and cardiovascular disease risk factors.

In the process, they found that long-term consumption of aspartame was linked to increased fat stores in the abdomen and fat within muscle.

Aspartame is a non-nutritive sweetener (NNS) sold under the names Equal, Nutrasweet and Sugar Twin.

It is found in products including:

  • Zero-sugar or diet sodas, including Diet Coke
  • Sugar-free gums, such as Trident gum
  • Diet drink mixes, including Crystal Light
  • Reduced-sugar condiments, such as Log Cabin Sugar-Free Syrup
  • Sugar-free gelatin like Sugar-free Jell-O

So why does aspartame actually make you gain fat?

The study authors pose the following explanation.

When aspartame metabolizes, it suppresses the action of intestinal alkaline phosphatase, an enzyme that, among other things, maintains gut homeostasis.

And poor gut health contributes to obesity (as well as upping your risk for diabetes, Parkinson’s, and other serious diseases).

Yet both the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association still recommend the use of artificial sweeteners like aspartame in place of sugar.

Ever heard the expression, “Out of the frying pan, into the fire”? It sure applies here.

Oh, and let’s not forget it’s “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

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Healthier ways to “get sweet”

This study also looked at the harm done by diet sodas.

Many of them are sweetened with aspartame, and actually increase your waist size.

They also contribute to metabolic syndrome.

But the plant-based sweetener stevia can fight metabolic syndrome!

According to research, the stevia rebaudiana plant is a natural for treating obesity, hypertension and elevated blood sugar and lipids.

Another one to try is monk fruit extract. Monk fruit is a type of fruit native to Southeast Asia. It’s often used to make a natural sweetener called monk fruit extract.

Monk fruit contains antioxidant compounds known as mogrosides, which studies have shown may reduce markers of inflammation.

If you switch to stevia or monk fruit, take care to be sure erythritol is not used as a filler. Erythritol is linked to sticky blood and stroke.

If you’re looking to sweeten plain yogurt or oatmeal, dried fruits are a good choice. Pitted dates, figs, raisins, and any other dried fruit can be blended in a food processor for a smooth sweetener to mix into your food.

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Study links long-term artificial sweetener intake to increased body fat adipose tissue volume — Science Daily

Long-term aspartame and saccharin intakes are related to greater volumes of visceral, intermuscular, and subcutaneous adipose tissue: the CARDIA study — International Journal of Obesity

WHO advises not to use non-sugar sweeteners for weight control in newly released guideline — World Health Organization

WHO questions safety of aspartame. Here’s a list of popular foods, beverages with the sweetener. — CBS News

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.