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Do artificial sweeteners harm the body's insulin response?

Artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, promise all the delicious sweetness of sugar without any of the calories or consequences. Sound too good to be true? It might be.

According to new research, artificial sweeteners may have an adverse impact on insulin response. In response to sweet tasting foods, the pancreas normally releases insulin, a hormone required so that cells can take glucose from the bloodstream and use it for energy and fuel. Yet aspartame may actually register as tasting sweeter than sugar, triggering the body’s natural insulin response for glucose that never arrives -- due to the artificial sweetener’s non-caloric content.

In the short-term, the unused insulin, which is sometimes referred to as the body’s fat storage hormone, may result in more fat. Over the long-term, that false insulin triggering may confuse and actually slow down the body’s metabolism, making it less able to efficiently process real glucose. A slower metabolism could mean fewer calories are burned each day, also resulting in putting on extra pounds.

As with many products approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it may take time before federal officials revise their approval of aspartame, possibly requiring additional warnings to be included on its packaging. However, health-conscious New Jersey residents should consider how diet sodas, fat-free desserts and beverages, and other foods with aspartame might be impacting their health.

Although obesity or metabolic syndrome may not prevent an individual from working, those conditions may lead to more serious disabilities that do. Social Security disability insurance benefits might provide some financial assistance while an individual is unable to work, but SSDI payments won’t make it any easier to lose those extra pounds. That may require old-fashioned remedies such as a balanced diet and exercise.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, “Diet Soda Health Risks: Study Says Artificial Sweeteners May Cause Weight Gain, Deadly Diseases (VIDEO),” Dominique Mosbergen, July 11, 2013

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