Sucralose and Aspartame Side Effects

By Kristeen Cherney

Managing your weight and choosing the best foods don’t always go hand in hand. While artificial sweeteners have been on the market for decades, their safety has been questioned. Sucralose and aspartame are both approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as food additives, but the agency cannot guarantee complete safety in all users. Outweigh the benefits and potential risks before using these sweeteners on a regular basis.

Assess the Sweet Benefits

Sucralose and aspartame are artificial sweeteners made with the help of chemical processing. Also called sugar substitutes, these sweeteners are available at the store for home use. Aspartame is used in diet sodas, and sucralose may be present in candy, gelatin and processed juices. According to MedlinePlus, sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar, while aspartame is 220 times as sweet. Unlike sugar, artificial sweeteners are calorie-free, which can be a welcome treat if you’re watching your weight. Sugar substitutes also don’t lead to dental carries or spikes in blood sugar.

Unpleasant Symptoms After Use

Before approving sucralose and aspartame for sale on the U.S. market, the FDA assessed studies of them to review potential side effects, which were slim. However, this doesn’t mean that the sweeteners are 100 percent free of side effects. If you’re used to eating table sugar, you might experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as bloating and diarrhea, after making the switch to sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners can also cause headaches and changes in mood. Gradually make the switch to sucralose or aspartame to minimize these side effects.

Weight Loss Challenges

Many sugar users make the switch to aspartame or sucralose in an effort to cut calories. The irony is that the substances might make you gain weight. Susan Swithers, a psychological science professor at Purdue University, tells NPR her theory that sugar substitutes can trick the body into thinking you’re actually consuming sugar. This may lead to hormonal and metabolic changes that can make weight loss more difficult. Also, you may end up craving real sugar and tend to indulge more than you would have without eating sweeteners, leading to weight gain.

The Cancer Debate

Aspartame, made out of the amino acids aspartic acid and phenylalanine, was originally approved by the FDA in 1981. Since then, there have been concerns over the threat of cancer. Critics claim that long-term consumption may increase the risk for brain cancer, as well as leukemia and lymphoma. However, the National Cancer Institute says the studies are too inconsistent and the evidence too lacking to prove such claims. Sucralose is not part of the cancer debate. You should not use aspartame if you have phenylketonuria because the conditions prevents your body from properly breaking down phenylalanine.

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