According to a recent article in TIME magazine 180 million Americans buy sugar-free products in an effort to lose weight. The problem, however, is that not only do these chemical sugar substitutes not promote weight loss; they may also pose a serious risk to your health.

Humans are genetically predisposed to craving sweet flavors. In nature, foods that taste sweet contain greater amounts of calories. In the past, knowing this was a matter of survival. Sweetness also causes a reduction in stress hormones and may help to alleviate pain.

It seems that when you consume artificial sweeteners your body is unable to adapt. The article sites a 2004 Purdue study which found that consumption of artificially sweetened liquids caused the body to lose its ability to determine the calorie content of foods that contained real sugar.

This has led some experts to believe that we have reset our bodies to crave “an artificially high level of sweetness”. Proof of this can be easily seen reading most standard food labels. There you will find sugar in peanut butter, soups and many frozen dinners. Why?

A quick search on the internet will reveal a plethora of studies and case histories showing a direct correlation between artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame (Equal/NutraSweet) and saccharine (Sweet-n-Low), and various health problems. In fact, by 1995 aspartame accounted for over 75% of all reports to the FDA Adverse Reaction Monitoring System!

The newest of these chemical sweeteners is sucralose, which is marketed as Splenda. It appears that this trendy sugar substitute in no safer than its predecessors. It’s actually a chlorinated sucrose derivitive that has been linked to shrinking of the thymus gland and enlargement of the kidneys and liver.

Instead of panicking, however, you can choose the alternatives. Stevia and agave nectar are all-natural substitutes for artificial sweeteners which are low in calories, safe for diabetics and are widely available. Reading labels and making wise choices will do wonders to help you live the “sweet life”!

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