Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Part 9: Artificial Sweeteners and Supplements

Part 9:  Artificial Sweeteners and Supplements Based on the book “What to Eat” by Marion Nestle

The three leading artificial sweeteners are sucralose-splenda, aspartame-equal, and acesulfame potassium or K. Artificial sweeteners convert beverages to diet drinks. Sugar alcohols are maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and other carbs ending in -ol rather than -ose are sugar alcohols and have no calories because you cannot easily digest them. The bacteria in your gut can though so expect a laxative effect if you eat too much of them. The FDA has approved artificial sweeteners because there is no compelling evidence that they cause harm at current levels of intake in adults. Many people with diabetes no doubt think that artificial sweeteners are the best because they don't raise blood sugar levels. They are deceptive. If a food is sweet it should be sweet because it contains sugar. Foods with artificial sugar fool you into thinking they have sugar when they don't and may encourage you to think that if foods are not sweet they are not edible. Moving on to supplements. Taking fat soluble vitamins in amounts greater than those available from food can cause damage. They are not like water soluble ones which get excreted through urine, they are instead stored. Ingest too much of them and they can build up to harmful levels. If you are like the majority of adults in the US, you already take supplements of one kind or another, maybe because you don't eat as healthy as you could all the time or because you want to make sure you are supplying your body with all the nutrients you can and think some nutritional insurance is a good idea or because you think they do you good….all valid reasons. In 1994, congress passed DSHEA (dietary supplement health and education act) on the basis of two questionable assumptions: that supplements are basically harmless and that the makers are honest. The law doesn't require makers to demonstrate safety or efficacy of their products. Instead, it makes the FDA responsible for proving them harmful in court before doing anything about them. Supplements can also have structure/function claims on them (claims that the product supports some body structure or function) that appear the same as FDA approved health claims. All nutrients are needed to make your body work properly; you need every one of them, and the best place to get them is from relatively unprocessed foods that still have their original vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytochemicals. As for herbs and all those other non-essential supplements you can take your chances on what is in them, but as long as the amounts are small they are unlikely to do any real harm. Does adding vitamins really make food better for you? Real foods are health foods and do not need to be made functional to be good for you. They are functional just the way they are.