Artificial sweeteners are used in many different food products to help sweeten and improve the flavor as a substitute for sugar. A high intake of sugar is directly linked to obesity, which comes with a whole host of problems. But are there differences in artificial sweeteners? The short answer is yes, and this article will give some clarity on why some sweeteners are chosen over others and even explain exactly what happens in your body when you consume them.
There are many different sweeteners used in products around the world, but several popular sweeteners are Stevia, aspartame, and sucralose. Stevia is a natural product extracted from plants and whereas both sucralose and aspartame are artificially made and evolved from sugar and amino acids. Sucralose is considered generally safe, but there is some evidence pointing to potential dangers of aspartame. Stevia is one sweetener that is scientifically researched and has been declared safe. Another interesting aspect about Stevia is the beneficial effects it can have on the body when consumed. Keep in mind that there are many other sweeteners out there, but because Stevia, aspartame, and sucralose are some of the most popular sweeteners, we will compare these three in depth in this article.
Sucralose is an artificially made zero-calorie sweetener and is a chemical derivative of glucose. It is about 600 times sweeter than sugar and for a large part considered safe, but some studies have shown detrimental effects in the body. A large review on sucralose found several studies reporting dangerous effects with sucralose consumption but is generally safe to consume. Study design is everything when it comes to determining the safety of products and the designs of some of these studies required the findings to be thrown out. But what we do know is sucralose was studied to see if there were any beneficial effects on the body and an extremely large review paper found no benefits with consumption of sucralose. The conclusion is that sucralose then is generally safe, with potentially some negative side effects, however there are no scientifically backed benefits from consumption.
Aspartame is another popular sweetener used in products but has a history of negative effects on the body. Aspartame is around 250 times sweeter than sugar and commonly used around the world in food and even pharmaceutical products. It is an amino-acid derivative but contains several potentially toxic metabolites with negative effects throughout the body. Unlike other sweeteners, when aspartame is digested, different parts of the molecule can enter the brain and change levels of neurochemicals. These aren’t the only negative effects of aspartame though. Studies have shown consuming aspartame can disrupt red blood cells, change brain homeostasis, and even impair liver function. There is some evidence aspartame can impair heart function, dampen immune system function, and negatively change composition of gut bacteria. More research can always be done, but current evidence suggests aspartame may not be totally safe to consume.
Stevia, unlike the other two sweeteners, comes from several different plant species and has been used for centuries in South America to sweeten drinks. In terms of sweetness, it is very similar to the other sweeteners, however Stevia may have other benefits relating general health along with being all-natural. Stevia is about 300 times as sweet as sugar and it contains 0 calories so it makes for a great sugar substitute. When consumed, Stevia passes harmlessly through the intestines or is absorbed and easy handled by the liver before being excreted by the body. Scientists have concluded that Stevia is safe to consume at any age and research up until now has not shown any carcinogenic or allergy-like properties. What’s even more interesting is that Stevia has been shown to have some benefits on other processes in the body when consumed in normal amounts.
Research on Stevia has shown some very interesting effects on processes like glucose regulation, obesity, and even blood pressure due to some of the compounds found inside Stevia. The next part of this article is going to breakdown why Stevia is a good choice of sweetener to consume and why Upper Echelon Nutrition uses this in our products. First, let’s talk about the effects on glucose regulation.
When consuming Stevia, scientists found an increase in glucose tolerance. That sounds fantastic, but what exactly is glucose and why do we care? Glucose tolerance is simply how efficient is our body at handling glucose into the blood. When healthy and as training adaptations increase, our body increases our glucose tolerance and becomes better at handling glucose in the blood. There is strong evidence Stevia consumption in recommended doses can help improve glucose tolerance. A higher glucose tolerance helps with staying in a healthy state and is just one benefit from Stevia consumption.
Other research has suggested Stevia may also help with blood pressure regulation to help decrease blood pressure and improve health in people consuming Stevia. Stevia has also been shown to help with cancer prevention, increase oral health, and combat obesity.
Stevia - Our Whey Protein Isolate Flavoring Choice
Upper Echelon Nutrition’s mission is to provide high quality, all-natural ingredients in all of our products. Our ingredients are research tested and formulated to give you some of the highest quality products on the market. We chose Stevia in our Whey Protein Isolate for a few reasons. The first is to enhance the flavor to make our whey protein one of the best tasting out there. We believe in using all natural ingredients only, so we stay clear of other sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose. Finally, we want to provide ingredients to keep you healthy so that you can perform at your best and reach all your fitness goals. Because of all the aforementioned potential health benefits, the fact that it is an all-natural ingredient, and the great taste, Stevia was the pick for flavoring our whey protein.