Long time readers might already know my distaste towards artificial sweeteners due to its strong association with higher chance of developing obesity, type-2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome (basically means your resting metabolic rate is very low). This is the main reason why Magnus Performance developed our own whey protein product line, besides glucose consumption prior to exercise actually helps your body burn fat.
Over the past week, health news headlines has been dominated by recent studies that indicates artificial sweeteners consumption are linked with stroke, alzheimer and dementia. Great, more reason to avoid artificial sweeteners right? Unfortunately, we need to peer deeper to see that sometimes, life is not as easy. Let us dig deeper.
The Two Studies
As always, when mainstream media put the big headlines, what you must first do is read the actual studies. One which is published in the journal stroke, and another done at Boston University and published by Alzheimer & Dementia. On both studies, the methodology is self report from the study participant and there was no mention about the racial make up of the participants. Self report is highly unreliable as it depends on the participant’s memory and how the questionnaire was worded while people from different genetic make up has different body reaction from nutrition input. For example, Asians have far higher incidence of lactose intolerance than Caucasians . Hence, I would take this study with a grain of salt.
On the Boston University study, there was no mention of the participant’s genetic predisposition, exercise, dietary habit, or income level. And as we all know these 4 factors do have an effect on memory and brain volume. The study published on Stroke journal was of higher quality as it does take into account most of these factors. And although the Boston University study showed association between normal sugary beverage consumption and dementia, the study published at Stroke journal failed to replicate that. What it showed though is the association between artificial sweetener consumption with stroke and dementia. And the increased risk to the average population is only 3 percent.
If you are non-diabetic to begin with, of course its better to simply control your cravings, do adequate exercise and indulge in real sugar every once in a while. After all, those percentage points do add up. However, if you are diabetic, and you just need to indulge to satisfy your sweet tooth, then artificial sweetener every once in a while is still acceptable.