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Is your child a guinea pig for the fancy new chemicals masquerading as the next new in food?

If it was up to Marketers and food chemist, you would be. But luckily they have you as a parent, who is concerned about their health and reads articles like these.

What are artificial sweeteners? They are a proprietary patented chemical that has something to do with phenylalanine.

The way artificial sweeteners were discovered could have been a scene out of the old classic comedy. In 1879, Ira Ramsen a researcher from John Hopkins spilled some chemical his hand that turned out to be sweet when he tasted it. He was trying to create some antiulcer drug in his lab when this accident occurred. His spill set the stage for the development of saccharin – an artificial sweetener known today by many names. Now more than 125 years later, saccharin is joined by a growing list of artificial sweeteners with varying chemical structures. And there are a whole host of new ones on the horizon. These products substitute sugar and corn syrup.

Are they safe? Can they help people to shed their extra weight? What role should they play in person’s and children’s diet-if any?

Artificial sweeteners also called sugar substitutes are compounds that offer the sweetness of sugar without the same calories. They are anywhere from 30 to 8000 times sweeter than sugar and as a result, they have much fewer calories than foods made with table sugar (sucrose). Each gram of refined table sugar contains 4 calories. Many sugar substitutes have zero calories per gram.

Is it safe for kids?

For children, sugar is a health hazard. But artificial sweetener poses its own problem. The jury is still not out on exactly how toxic artificial sweetener is to growing little bodies, but in general, the less the better, is a safe rule of the thumb for any lab-made food. The U.S. food and drug administration has set limits on the amount of artificial sweeteners infants and children should consume.

Sugar alcohols, mannitol and sorbitol cause diarrhea in adults as well as children when consumed in amounts over 20 – 50 grams per day. Artificial sweeteners such as saccharin, used in some formulas could cause irritability and muscle dysfunction in infants, although this is unproven according to Medicine.Net.

More kids are drinking diet and artificially sweetened beverages. Aspartame has had the most complaints of any food additives available to the public. It has been linked with MS, lupus, fibromyalgia and other central nervous disorders. Possible effects of aspartame include headache, migraines, panic-attacks, dizziness, irritability, nausea, intestinal discomfort, skin rash and nervousness. Some researchers have linked it with depression and manic episodes. Parents particularly should be concerned about the neurotoxicity of aspartame. Dr. Olney pointed out in 1980 that aspartame killed neurons in lab rats and that children’s nervous system aren’t protected by the blood-brain barrier. He told the FDA, “We can be reasonably certain there is no margin of safety for the use of aspartame in the child’s diet.” Yet we have it.

A review of studies conducted by The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has published in the 2008 issue of “obesity” that an increased intake of artificial sweeteners correlates to an increase, rather than a decrease, in obesity. It’s advised that children with PKU should never consume artificial sweeteners.

So, what can you do?

Artificial sweeteners change the way people perceive food tastes, according to the Harvard Health Letter. Foods sweetened with artificial sweeteners also fill children up without providing any nutritional benefit, registered dietician Karen Ansel warns on the Academy of Dietics and Nutrition website. The AAP states that artificial sweeteners shouldn’t have any significant place in a child’s diet. An occasional taste of a treat made with artificial sweetener won’t harm your child.

Want sweet substitutes?

Cinnamon is a sweet tasting spice that has recently been shown to have a beneficial effect on stabilizing blood insulin levels. Sprinkle cinnamon on oatmeal or in a smoothie.

Try fruit toppings. Instead of sweetened yogurt (Avoid any yoghurt labeled ‘light’ these almost always contain artificial sweeteners.) Try plain yoghurt mixed with a tsp. of fresh thawed frozen blueberries.

Use Agave Nectar or Honey if a bit of sweetness is desired.

But avoid raw sugar and any sweetener (including those marketed as Natural sweetener) like the PLAGUE.

Author: TxNaturalPediatrics

By training, I am a American Board Certified Pediatrician. But in my younger years I grew up with natural alternatives. As a mom I have tried to incorporate both for my kids and it has worked wonders. And finally, as I am studying natural & alternative medicines, I realize the beauty and wisdom of living closer to earth. Hence in my practice I integrate both...for acute ailments I follow American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation but for simple and/or chronic conditions I prefer natural alternatives. In western training we were raised to think that "health is the absence of symptoms and problems". But eastern sensibilities has educated me that "Health is state that allows one to use the full capabilities of their body, mind and intellect. Therefore, healthy living is a balanced state of well being: physically, mentally, socially and spiritually." This implies that healing is not a "one-pill-fits-all", but a personalized experience.

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