Scientists compared the risks of non-caloric artificial sweeteners and sugar in a study and determined that the health consequences of both substances are more similar than they are made out to be.
Sugary drinks have been linked to diabetes, obesity and other health problems. People have been drinking non-caloric, artificially sweetened beverages in place of sugary beverages so they can still get their sweet fixes without all the negative effects of high amounts of sugar.
As the study explains, however, “it was not until recently that the negative impact of consuming non-caloric artificial sweeteners in the place of sugar had been increasingly recognized as a potential contributor to the dramatic increase in diabetes and obesity, along with the associated complications.”
Scientists used both test tubes and rats for the experiment to compare the results of non-living objects and living animals. The rats used were specially designed to be susceptible to diabetes.
For the test-tube experiment, Forbes explains, “the research team placed cells from the inside lining of the rats’ small blood vessels into test tubes and exposed these cells to either sugar or a common artificial sweetener.” The results of this test found that “both sugars and artificial sweeteners interfered with glycosylation, a key step in which sugars are added to proteins that then affects how the proteins function.”
For the live rat experiment, rats were divided into two groups: one that was fed large doses of sugar and another that was fed large doses of artificial sweeteners. Scientists found that both types of sweeteners affected the rats’ fat concentrations, amino acids and other biochemicals.
“In just 3 weeks,” Forbes says, “both sugar and artificial sweeteners seemed to be disrupting the way fats and proteins were being processed.”
The results of this study are significant because they debunk the belief that non-caloric, artificially sweetened foods and beverages don’t come with the same health risks as sugary foods and beverages. While artificial sweeteners are a better option, that doesn’t necessarily make them a healthy alternative.
Just like anything, diet sodas and artificial sweeteners have to be consumed in moderation.
As one of the scientists of the study, Brian Hoffman, stated in a press release, “Despite the addition of these non-caloric artificial sweeteners to our everyday diets.”
“In our studies, both sugar and artificial sweeteners seem to exhibit negative effects linked to obesity and diabetes, albeit through very different mechanisms from each other.”