Artificial Sweeteners

Artificial Sweeteners
If you have a thyroid issue – you may also have a few extra pounds. Since the thyroid gland controls metabolism, it is not uncommon for weight gain to occur with patients who suffer from hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s disease. If you are concerned about managing weight gain, you may possibly use products that contain artificial sweeteners.

Artificial sweeteners such as Equal and NutraSweet, which contain aspartame, and Splenda, which contains sucralose, are chemical compounds that are not healthy sugar substitutes and may actually be harming your thyroid and causing many unpleasant side effects.

While we would like to believe that food products approved by the Food and Drug Administration are safe for human consumption, the reality is that many products deemed safe are not safe at all. I was shocked to learn that manufacturers can conduct numerous tests on a food product, but actually only submit the results of the tests that support their desire to receive FDA approval. In the case of Splenda, 110 tests were completed prior to its approval. However, only two of those studies were actually completed on humans. The two tests involved a total of 36 humans, of which only 23 people actually consumed the product. Of the two human studies, the longest study lasted only four days and was concerned with tooth decay, not the effects of ingesting the sucralose. Studies continue to be conducted, but the long term health effects are yet unknown.

Undoubtedly, people use artificial sweeteners thinking they are making a healthy, low calorie choice when compared to sugar. However, the chemicals contained in the artificial sweeteners are toxic poisons, which may actually encourage weight gain in the body. Even more distressing are the side effects attributed to artificial sweeteners – some of the same side effects that are contributed to thyroid disorders.

Aspartame Side Effects: Anxiety, Unexplained Pain, Brain Fog, Depression, Dizziness, Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Headaches, Hyperthyroidism, Hypothyroidism, Insomnia, Memory Loss, Restless Legs

Aspartame has been credited with actually causing autoimmune thyroid disorders. In his book, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, David Brownstein, M.D., recommends, “anyone suffering from an autoimmune thyroid problem (as well as any autoimmune disorder) must avoid all products that contain aspartame.” To take this recommendation a step further, Dr. Hal Roberts, who is an expert on aspartame related medical issues, suggests that patients who have been newly diagnosed with Grave’s disease should eliminate all aspartame products from their diet before progressing with additional treatment. Once the body detoxes from the aspartame, the symptoms may disappear.

Splenda Side Effects: Gastrointestinal Problems, Blurred Vision, 
Migraines, Allergic Reactions,
 Seizures, Blood Sugar Increases,
 Dizziness, Weight Gain

“Made from sugar so it tastes like sugar” is the marketing phrase associated with Splenda, also known as sucralose. While a sugar molecule is the base for the creation of Splenda a five-step patented process adds three chlorine molecules to the sugar molecule – transforming it into a very different chemical called sucralose.

Chlorine, which is in sucralose, is a halide. Iodine, which is necessary for proper thyroid function and lacking in the majority of all Western diets, is also a halide. When the body is deficient in iodine, chlorine is even more damaging to the thyroid. In the absence of adequate amounts of iodine, the thyroid will absorb other members of the halide family, such as chlorine. Dr. Brownstein’s clinical experience has shown that sucralose can cause/worsen both iodine deficiency and thyroid problems.

A 2008 study completed by Duke University has shown that Splenda has also been linked to reduced gut bacteria and interferes with absorption of medications. For those who take medications, consumption of sucralose may not be allowing the patient to receive the full benefit of the medicines.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, like many medical experts, recommends the elimination of all artificial sweeteners. If you consume artificial sweeteners, try eliminating all of them from the beverages and food you consume for at least two weeks. Notice how you feel. If you must reintroduce the artificial sweeteners into your diet after the two-week detox, again, notice how you feel and determine if unpleasant side effects have returned.

Two national grocery stores, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, actually refuse to carry products that contain artificial sweeteners. Despite the popularity of many products that contain artificial sweeteners, these retailers have decided it would go against their philosophy of providing the best products to their customers – way to go Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s!

I hope this article will encourage you to do eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet. Since the chemicals in these sweeteners are not natural, they are unrecognized by your body. They actually fail to satisfy the body’s desire for something sweet – leaving a craving unsatisfied – and searching for something more to satisfy it. Artificial sweeteners are immensely sweeter than sugar. Initially, products that aren't sweetened with artificial sweeteners may taste bland, but within a short amount of time, your taste buds will adjust and you’ll be wondering how you could have actually enjoyed the taste of those chemical sweeteners.

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Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, David Brownstein, M.D.

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