Everyone has heard the term “high fructose corn syrup” and “artificial sweetener.” We know they’re out there in bulk, that people from all sides of the spectrum are working to have in banned or have it defined legally as sugar. There’s even commercials and a website out there to help promote the latter. But what hidden information do the “facts” hold? Why are these artificial sweeteners such a big deal?
Ever since high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) was first used in 1957, and later mass-produced in the U.S. in 1975, unnatural sugars have transformed into a billion-dollar industry. Today they can be found in most pre-packaged and processed foods, as well as beverages, adding dangerous and even unknown side effects to everyday foods and nutrition.
If these substances are so unnatural and dangerous, though, why were they ever created?
Artificial sweeteners were invented as a way to add flavor while cutting out the fat that is associated with traditional sugar. It also allows companies to reduce production costs, as sweeteners are much cheaper than real sugar. However, despite these fat-reducing claims, artificial sweeteners provide virtually no caloric fuel for the body to burn, reducing fat levels but preventing them from being burned off in the process.
Despite HFCS being (arguably) the most used artificial sweetener, it’s certainly not the only available option. Food and beverage companies also use saccharin, neotame, acesulfame potassium, aspartame, and sucralose – all of which can cause dangerous side effects. However, sucralose and aspartame have been proven to cause the most severe symptoms.
Sucralose is created by denaturing sucrose’ natural properties. This is accomplished by chemically changing its properties through chlorination. Chlorine, a proven carcinogen, is then consumed by consumers of all ages, leading to intense side effects – some of which have yet to be pinned down.
While this may seem inconclusive, many health groups are comparing the substance’s research to that of tobacco. Because no steady or long-term tests were put into place, researchers weren’t aware of tobacco’s intense dangers until decades later. These groups fear sucralose users may be causing serious illnesses without being provided with the proper warnings. And the kicker? Despite having been invented to help cut back on fat, there is no concrete evidence (or any shaky evidence for that matter) that sucralose is beneficial to reducing one’s weight or body fat percentages.
Aspartame, another dangerous repeat offender, has been considered toxic in certain scenarios, including its recent evaluation by the FDA. After an overwhelming number of complaints – 80 percent of all food additive issues – an investigation was launched, finding falsified data and reports by the sweetener’s production company. And after a little research, their motives were made clear; aspartame has been sourced as the cause to more than 91-documented health risks and symptoms.
After being linked to causing brain tumors, mental retardation, birth defects, diabetes, brain damage, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s disease, etc., one government branch has decided to take a stand against aspartame. TheU.S. Air Force has strictly warned their pilots to avoid the substance in any amount.
Artificial sweeteners have also been known to weaken one’s immune system, cause herpes outbreaks (both oral and genital), insomnia, headaches, heart palpitations, weight gain, and others.
However, despite the USAF ban and independent and government research, the FDA has made no legal or other actions to remove these substances from our foods.
Despite government approval, artificial sweeteners can cause serious health risks, many of which are severe. But because of certain laws and legal processes, these substances are approved for everyday use, risks and all.
Awareness continues to be on the rise, warning consumers about the side effects involved with these substances. In the meantime, however, the best way to steer clear of these effects is to avoid them all together.
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