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Dr. Oz Reveals New Health Risk Warning about Artificial Sweeteners

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Dr. Oz and Artificial Sweeteners

Is that diet soda or that low-calorie artificially-sweetened sweet tea drink you have every day really as safe as you are led to believe? Dr Oz tackles this controversial topic in a new episode of The Dr. Oz Show in which he reveals that drinking diet drinks or adding those little packets of artificial sweeteners to your coffee may be the root of your health problems.

“Is it time we stopped using artificial sweeteners?” asks Dr. Oz telling viewers that not only have artificial sweeteners been linked to causing weight gain, but that over 20 recent studies have revealed that artificial sweeteners may be contributing to diabetes and causing heart disease in thousands of Americans every year.

In an informal survey of his audience, Dr. Oz found that that on average people admit to using 3 packets of artificial sweetener a day. However, the actual amount of artificial sweetener that people typically consume is much higher when you include artificial sweeteners used in sodas and other diet drinks or foods.

Case in point - Dr. Oz introduced one audience member named Cindy who admitted to using 6-12 packets of artificial sweetener a day plus drinking at least 4 diet sodas daily. According to Dr. Oz, one diet soda is equivalent to 7 packets of artificial sweetener bringing Cindy’s daily count to 24-30 packets of artificial sweetener a day—a habit she has maintained for the past 20 years.

“The average American has about 30 packets of artificial sweetener a day,” says Dr. Oz telling Cindy that she is not alone with this problem and that this amounts to about 24 pounds of artificial sweetener per year per person.

Dr. Oz tells viewers that one problem with eating artificial sweeteners is that they actually trick your body into eating more than you normally would because the artificial sweeteners interfere with feelings of satiety. He explains that the sensations your tongue and brain experience are not in sync with what your stomach knows is the point at which you are actually feeling full and should signal you that that it’s time to stop eating.

The result of overeating then is the build-up of belly fat which in turns leads to the development of cardiovascular disease and inflammation of your blood vessels.

Dr. Oz tells viewers that one reason why people begin to eat so much artificial sweetener is in part because they are led to believe that artificial sweeteners are healthier than eating foods with sugar and that artificial sweeteners will help prevent you from gaining weight.

Visiting with Dr. Oz was special guest Dr. Elizabeth Boham, a physician and dietician who has studied the effects of artificial sweeteners on the human body. What she has discovered over the years is that the trend for consuming artificial sweeteners is disturbingly increasing and resulting in health problems that could be avoided.

“We know that as we increase the amount of artificial sweeteners in the diet that people’s weight begins to increase,” says Dr. Boham who tells the audience that whenever she gets a new patient the first thing she does is takes them off their artificial sweeteners. She cites the existence of studies that not only indicate that artificial sweeteners are actually causing obesity, but newer research that also shows its connection to heart disease and diabetes.

When Dr. Oz asks her for her opinion about how that the food industry is sending the message that drinking diet sodas or other drinks with artificial sweeteners is safe as long as it is done in moderation, Dr. Boham tells him that she does not believe that what they are telling the public is true.

“I definitely don’t recommend that we substitute artificial sweeteners for regular sweeteners. There are studies that are showing that even 3 cans of diet soda a week can cause changes in the body that are not healthy. Even one can of regular or diet soda a day increases our chances of diabetes and pre-diabetes by over 40 percent,” says Dr. Boham. “We know that food is information for the body―and artificial sweeteners are just not providing the right information.”

Dr. Oz tells viewers that the scientific opinion of the Calorie Control Council is that the use of artificial sweeteners is safe and is stated so as follows by representatives of the Council:

“…low-calorie sweeteners are some of the most thoroughly studied food ingredients on record and numerous robust scientific studies show they are safe for humans of all ages.”

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Dr. Oz goes on record stating that he does not believe that artificial sweeteners are toxic; however, he does believe that artificial sweeteners do not deliver on their promise of helping people avoid weight gain or lose weight. In fact, several of his earlier shows have warned about the potential dangers of artificial sweeteners and the finding that artificial sweeteners are one of the biggest myths of the diet food industry.

Dr. Oz recommends that if you do use an artificial sweetener that you should use no more than the equivalent of 1-2 packets of artificial sweetener per day.

Dr. Boham points out that while foregoing artificial sweeteners by going cold turkey is difficult, that it can be achieved by gradually reducing your intake over time that will eventually get you off your artificial sweetener habit.

In a related article written by Ashley Koff, RD and published on The Dr. Oz Show website, Ms. Koff offers these 3 tips for getting off of artificial sweeteners as summarized below:

Artificial Sweetener Tip #1: Reduce your intake of artificial sweeteners.

• If you currently have several artificially sweetened diet drinks a day, challenge yourself to only have one.

• If you typically put three packets of an artificial sweetener in your coffee or tea, only use one. If you find that you don’t like the taste with just one, then you really don’t like coffee or tea, so go for a different beverage or food choice instead.

• Don’t get sneaky and say you only have one packet in your coffee – but have several coffees a day! When we say one, we mean one. If that means less coffee or a coffee without any sweetener, that’s what reduce means.

Artificial Sweetener Tip #2: Replace your artificial sweetener with one of nature’s non-caloric sweeteners.

One option is stevia, a plant leaf that contains compounds that naturally sweeten drinks and recipes too. However you should keep in mind that not all stevia products are created equal―so make sure to read your ingredient list to make sure it says “stevia” or “stevia extract” and be aware that some products have 3 servings worth in one can, so check the amount and if it tastes too sweet to be true…it probably is!

Artificial Sweetener Tip #3: Renew your taste buds with unprocessed foods.

One of the problems with artificial sweeteners is that they condition your tongue and your body for desiring super-high doses of sweet and anything less becomes relatively intolerable. Ms. Koff recommends that you should renew your sweet taste buds by reintroducing nature’s sweets―fruit and vegetables in their whole, unprocessed form including saps, juices and nectars in place of foods laced with artificial sweeteners.

However, you must remember that portion control matters and you don’t want to have more than one or two servings of added sweets (saps, nectars, juices and syrups) daily. You can also eat starchy foods like beets, sweet potatoes, and carrots, which get especially sweet when you cook them, but maintain a proper portion that is your fist-sized or a half-cup cooked.

For related information about other misconceptions that actually cause weight gain, click-on the titled link, “Five Diet Myths Shared by Dr. Oz and Health Officials on Weight Loss and Nutrition.”

Image Source: Courtesy of PhotoBucket

Reference: The Dr. Oz Show