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Artificial Sweeteners--How Bad Are They, Really?

Every time I am in a restaurant and see someone dumping blue, pink or yellow packets into their coffee or iced tea, I want to scream, "Stop ! Do you know what you are doing to your health?"  Artificial sweeteners are marketed relentlessly to people trying to lose weight or promoted in products touted to be "healthy" for us.  They are everywhere you look with the most popular being:
•    Aspartame found in Equal
•    Saccharine found in Sweet n'Low
•    Sucralose found in Splenda
•    Acesulfame Potassium found in many products including protein powders and most  "reduced-sugar" products

The truth is that artificial sweeteners are not healthy and just as bad for you as sugar and high fructose corn syrup.  Most people think they will lose weight by eating and drinking everything "lite," "diet" or "fat-free."  I will never forget watching an episode of Oprah when she interviewed  Joan Collins and when asked if she kept her weight in check by drinking diet soft drinks, she said with a smile, "No, because I have never seen a slim person drinking one." 

Artificial sweeteners may save you calories but there is strong evidence that they promote hunger and increase your appetite--so you many end up eating more food throughout the day.  Studies show that artificial sweeteners stimulate high insulin levels in the blood which promote storage of body fat.  White, refined sugar stimulates appetite due to a lack of nutrients.   Other health issues include:
•    Headaches
•    Weight gain and more cravings
•    Gastrointestinal problems
•    Toxicity to the liver and kidneys
•    Increased cancer risk

What is the best way to sweeten your morning coffee?  
1.     My favorite is to stir in a tablespoon of organic, pure Grade-A Maple Syrup because it offers some nutrients and antioxidants.  Antioxidants prevent free radicals (toxins, chemicals and pollutants) from attacking healthy cells.
2.    Another healthy, natural sweetener is Stevia because it is a non-caloric herb that is 300 times sweeter than sugar.  It is derived from the leafy green foliage of the Stevia plant and is grown and harvested in many countries around the world.  
3.    Honey is a good choice for tea and an all-natural sweetener for your smoothie in the blender.

The bottom line is the body does not know what to do with foreign or chemical substances and as a health professional, I have seen all sorts of health problems due to artificial sweeteners.  Protect yourself and your family by avoiding them altogether.

Sherry L. Granader is a Sports Nutritionist, National Speaker and Spokesperson, Author of 2 healthy cookbooks, Writer, Ghost Writer, Nationally Certified Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. She has shared the stage with such celebrities as Whoopi Goldberg, Suze Orman and the late Governor Ann Richards and served as the On-Air Nutritionist for QVC television in the United States and the UK. She has cooked for her favorite bodybuilder, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) and his family, shared her nutrition expertise with Chuck Norris on the set of his movie "Sidekicks" and appeared on 8-time Mr. Olympia, Lee Haney's Championship Workouts on ESPN. Sherry hosted her own "Healthy Living" show on PBS for several years. For more information on Sherry, visit www.sgfit.com or write to Sherry at sgfit12@aol.com.

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