It is almost always like this: a person starts a diet to lose weight, and one of the first indications they receive is to cut carbohydrates, that is, not to eat bread, pasta or sweets. In the search for sugary foods, many resort to the use of artificial sweeteners and industrialized products called diet or light.
There are always doubts whether these products are good for health and even help in weight loss. Researchers focus on the topic and often present results of studies on the effects of sweeteners.
Clinical nutritionist Carolina Angelina Martins explains that these definitive answers cannot yet be given, but the risks of sweeteners causing some damage are doable.
“There are still not so many studies to reach a definitive conclusion. What we know is that, over the years, we are ingesting a chemical, and it can, yes, present some damage. For example, some modification due to something that it’s chemical and the body doesn’t recognize it”, guides Carolina.
She adds: “It’s a new product, which was created in the laboratory and which is pretending to be a sugar but it’s not. So, we end up having a chemistry that can, over time, cause some damage.”
What types of sweeteners?
The substances most used, both in everyday coffee and in processed foods, are synthetic products, such as aspartame, sodium cyclamate, mannitol, saccharin, acesulfame k. and sucralose.
There are also natural products, such as stevia, erythritol, monkfruit and xylitol, which are used in products sold as healthier.
Sweeteners are found in products such as yogurts, crackers, candies, cereal bars, juices and breads. The consumer can find information on the food being purchased on the packaging label, even the so-called natural ones, and know whether or not they contain synthetic products.
“There are several types of sweeteners on the market: synthetic, natural. We avoid making the indication of synthetic sweeteners, because there are actually several studies showing that they can bring some kind of harm to health – despite the fact that health agencies put these products as safe for consumption”, says functional and sports nutritionist Thais Barca, from Clínica CliNutri.
effect on metabolism
Last month, researchers from Department of Microbiology and Molecular Immunology, Johns Hopkins University, United Statesshowed that the use of aspartame, saccharin, stevia and sucralose can impact people’s metabolism.
The products alter the intestinal microbiota – a population of microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, that inhabit the entire gastrointestinal tract – and this impairs the body’s reaction process to changes in blood sugar levels.
Are sweeteners carcinogenic?
In March of this year, scientists at the Sorbonne University in Franceperformed a trial to look at the link between the use of aspartame, acesulfame-K and sucralose and the risk of cancer in general.
Based on responses from 102,865 adults, who are part of the French health and nutrition research platform NutriNet-Santé, the researchers linked the three products to increased overall cancer risk.
Aspartame, in particular, has been linked to obesity and an increased risk of breast cancer.
Association with heart problems
based on the responses from 103,388 volunteers from the same French platformthe same scientists studied the association of the use of artificial sweeteners with increased risks of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart attack and stroke.
According to the researchers, “Our findings indicate that these food additives, consumed daily by millions of people and present in thousands of foods and beverages, should not be considered a healthy and safe alternative to sugar, in line with the current position of several food agencies. health”.
Do sweeteners help with weight loss?
One of the answers that most interest consumers of diet and light products is whether they help in the weight loss process. In this case, the two professionals heard by the R7 are assertive in the answers.
“There are studies that show that the more sweetener I consume, the more sugar and carbohydrates I want. With that, I increase the absorption of carbohydrates in my intestines. If I am looking to lose weight, I have a greater desire to consume carbohydrates, breads, pasta or cookies”, explains Carolina.
Thais also adds about the effects of sweetener on the brain: “Our brain will send a message of sweets, and our pancreas will release insulin, but there will be no sugar for it to digest. This can have negative effects on weight loss, because the brain keeps sending the message that there was something sweet, and there was nothing sweet. This causes, slightly, an overload of insulin, because there was production without need. The brain keeps asking for the sweet taste, and the person will have more desire to eat candy”.
“The sweetener is just deceiving the brain sensors, which are a little confused, and with that he cannot give the notion of satiety, because the sweetener goes there and deceives the brain a lot”, emphasizes Carolina.
What does the WHO say?
In view of all this information, the WHO (World Health Organization), in April this year, announced that it will carry out a systematic review on the use of sweeteners in the diet of children and adults.
From July to August, the organization held a public consultation to help define and guide the consumption of these substances.
Who should use sweeteners?
The truth is that all sweeteners were created for individuals who actually have restrictions on sugar consumption, such as diabetics. For those who don’t need it, the ideal is to get used to the sour and bitter flavors, which can help with weight loss.
“For those who don’t have a physiological need, it’s better to avoid using sweeteners and get used to the natural taste of food. The more you adapt to the sour taste and the bitter taste, the more you can’t stand to eat very sweet things, and when comes the will, it will not be overwhelming. If you eat a little, it will pass”, concludes Thaís.
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