Artificial Sweeteners – Saccharin, Aspartame, Sucralose

We hear a lot these days about how artificial sweeteners have detrimental effects on the body, but in most cases, they are taken at value rather than in a comparison to what they replace. It’s been found that similar taste receptors or their analogy have been found in other parts of the body, namely the stomach and intestines through what’s called the sweet taste receptor T1R3 in the epithelial cells. Like most epithelial cells these form the membrane that allows passage of chemicals to and from the organ that they separate from other parts of the body.

Artificial sweeteners act on the taste receptors in the mouth to give the impression that something sweet has been eaten. They have replaced sugar in a lot of things simply because sugar has been directly linked to a number of conditions. But what are the risks of taking them?

As to the negative effects; it’s been found that extremely high quantities can adversely affect you. Animals have been extensively tested with them, and it’s been found that in very high quantities, sometimes 100’s of times the average person would consume, they can cause tumours and cancers. The validity of animal testing in this respect is sometimes considered suspect, as although some of them at low doses can kill animals, similar doses having no noticeable effect on humans.

So, what happens? It seems that activation of the sweet taste receptor T1R3 allows greater permeability through the epithelial cells for not just nutrients, a worrying prospect with bacteria such as E.coli and E.faecalis, but possibly with such things as viruses, namely Covid-19. It’s very likely that we have similar cells in the lungs, the use of vaping increasing due to similar receptors liking the glycerine that is commonly used as a transport, allowing greater permeation into the cells that lie deeper of chemicals that come with the package, some of them quite noxious. If similar receptors are in the lungs then the levels of sugars, glycerine, sweeteners may influence outcomes.

So, the course of action is to not eat or drink sweet things. This in itself denies a lot of people the pleasure that it gives, so you might as well also ban all food that has fat, sugar or any alcoholic or sweet tasting drinks. For many the prospect of a life of gluten free wholemeal bread and water seems like being no better than in prison. You’ll live longer, but it will feel like a hell of a lot longer.

What are the risks. Well, sugar the chemical that was previously widespread in most foods is being replaced by sweeteners that have an almost identical effect of the T1R3. The calories are not direct as with sugar so you get a net calorie value, but if you eat something like doughnuts made with them you will probably get somewhere near the same amount of calories. I like doughnuts, but for somebody who doesn’t like doughnuts this would be considered to be ‘no accounting for taste,’ when in fact the T1R3 receptor would be doing exactly that, the body ‘accounting for taste.’

It’s usually best not to have too many sweet things, artificial sweeteners being better than the sugar they replace, but not completely innocent when it comes to adding weight or having effects. But, comparing the risks from artificial sweeteners to not having anything at all, so comparing something to nothing, is always going to produce a net disadvantage, and over exaggerating risks based on very large quantities is only going to impress and influence the risk adverse, not the risk assessing.

Like with most things the trick is moderation, too much of anything creating an out of proportion response, our bodies being general purpose machines not built for extremes of anything. 1 is good, 10 must be 10 times as good, doesn’t work. We now have a different environment to people 100-200 years ago, with us changing the environment, and the environment changing us to suit it through evolution and selection. I look forward to more capacitive inducing fingers developing among the young. Language is constantly changing, with the belief in what a smartphone is telling you seeming to trump a laptop, but still below the TV, and above a book. Odd innit.

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