Sweeteners have become increasingly popular as sugars are becoming commonly known as being unhealthy, yet people still desire that sweet taste. The attractive aspect of sweeteners include being low in energy or calories, with some having no energy, helping people lose weight whilst still eating and drinking versions of what they like, such as sugar free Coca Cola.
A concern for those consuming sweaters in food or drinks is that some people may replace the low calories with other foods as consumers might think they can now eat more because the other foods were lower in calories, which could offset any weight loss that would occur from the reduced energy of the sugar free products.
Artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin, aspartame, and sucralose which can be found in many food items and are in the brands sweetex, equal and splenda respectively have shown to effect gut bacteria at VERY HIGH concentrations..but it is unlikely anyone will be consuming this level of sweetener. Evidence suggests high amounts of these hyper -intense artificial sweeteners can retrain taste buds to desire sweeter foods because of overstimulation of sugar receptors. This could lead to a dislike and intolerance to less sweet and blander foods which are highly nutritious and it can cause further cravings for sweetness, leading to weight gain from increased consumption of sweets and treats. In summary, these artificial sweeteners are not unhealthy or “bad” but rather should be consumed in moderation.
Nutritive sweeteners, such as erythritol, xylitol and maltitol are sugar alcohols that are a better alternative than artificial sweeteners because they are not intense sweeteners but rather carry the same or slightly less sweetness as sugar, causing taste buds to remain as sensitive as if you were consuming sugar. The consumption of sugar alcohols may cause gastrointestinal symptoms including flatulence, cramping, bloating and diarrhea and they are not 0 calorie but contribute some calories.
Natural sweeteners include stevia and monk fruit extract and are in my opinion, the best option if choosing a sweetener because they are less processed and don’t come with the possible gastrointestinal symptoms as nutritive sweeteners.
Overall, sugar free or reduced sugar alternatives are great options and my recommendation is to consume them in moderate amounts.