Are sugar-free foods safe for kids?
Dr. Jingwen Huang obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Nutrition and Food Science at Florida State University in 2018.
Most kids love sweets, treats, and sugar-sweetened drinks, while your pediatrician, and your child's dentist warn about all of their health risks. But then you may wonder if the sugar substitutes and sugar-free options are any better?
Some common concerns.
Do artificial sweeteners cause cancer?
Solid research studies have now shown sugar substitutes don't cause cancer. A false scare came from some studies that were poorly designed.
Do diet foods actually cause weight gain?
Currently, there is not enough research or strong links between the use of artificial sweeteners and weight gain. Most research suggests that you can use sugar sweeteners sparingly; however, like sugar, these foods should not be over consumed.
Splenda alters the gut's microbiome
Some research shows that sucralose (Splenda) can shift the bacteria (the microbiome) in the intestine of mice. This may be caused by an additive that comes in Splenda packaging, not the Splenda itself. Either way, if your child has intestinal or digestion problems, reducing the use of artificial sweeteners is best for them.
Is high-fructose corn syrup a healthy sweetener?
High fructose corn syrup is a natural sugar that comes from corn, but it isn't healthy because it is quickly digested and absorbed, bumping up blood sugar levels rapidly (that gives it a high glycemic index). Some may be used as a sugar in the body, but the extra is deposited in the liver as fat (triglycerides) leading to weight gain, insulin resistance and more.
All the sugar substitutes available in the US have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and are considered safe to eat. However, like foods with sugar, sweeteners should be limited and replaced with healthy, whole foods whenever possible.
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