Is eating candy after dinner your guilty pleasure? Are you someone who needs a soft drink with their burgers? Then you might be sadder than your friends who don’t have an affliction towards sweeteners! A study has recently uncovered that consuming artificial sweeteners is closely related to developing depression in the long run. Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School are behind the alarming discovery for which they gathered data for over a decade. 30,000 participants of various backgrounds and ages took part in the survey and contributed to the research.
Many doctors were also eager to admit how this doesn’t surprise them at all. Though not with mental health, artificial sweeteners have always been in a grey area for health care providers. The concern arose after various studies pointed out how their consumption can lead to various life-threatening diseases. These includes Diabetes and cardiovascular distress. Artificial sweeteners are also the major reason for causing obesity among children and teens. Alike which puts them at high risk of further developing chronic ailments. However, a group of dietitians believe that consumption of artificial sweeteners could reduce the sugar content in the body and may aid in weight loss.
Artificial sweeteners are a group of sugars that can be used in place of table sugar or jaggery. These are chemically formed and therefore their working inside the human body is still not fully known. All we know is they appeal to our taste buds and leave nothing to be broken down by the body. Some of the FDA-approved artificial sweeteners include Aspartame, Cyclamate, Neotame, Sucralose, and Neohespiridin. There are small amounts of salt in candies as well as mouthwashes, which make them an integral component of our daily lives.
The FDA suggests that only 0.5 mg -50 mg of sweeteners should be ideally consumed by us in a day. However, according to statistics, an average adult has 3 or more meals laced with artificial sweeteners in a day. A jump of over 54% in their consumption has also been noticed as per the data gathered by George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
Dr. Allison Slyvestky, the lead researcher on the study adds, “The findings are important, especially for children, because some studies suggest a link between low-calorie sweeteners and obesity, diabetes, and other health issues.” Sylvetsky also said that ignorance may play a part in their increasing consumption. The Dr. was quoted saying, “(people) may not realize the term “light” or “no added sugar” may mean that a product contains a low-calorie sweetener. (They) maybe buying the light versions of the family favorites thinking they are healthier.” But how does it affect our mental health?
Depression is a broad spectrum of mental health problems that affect a person’s mood. A person may suffer from depression for a variety of reasons. The reasons could range from genetic to a major life-changing event in your life. During the study, the researchers compared women who had a greater intake of processed food to those who didn’t eat them as much. “Experimental studies have shown that artificial sweeteners may trigger the transmission of particular signaling molecules in the brain that are important for mood”, the scientists elaborated. The results were very clear. Those who did take artificially sweetened foods seem to have been struggling with depression more than their counterparts. Though all processed foods were included in the study those taking sweetened drinks seemed to have a decline in their mental health acuity.
A growing number of people are turning to artificial sweeteners in order to “elevate” their mood. However, deeper research shall reveal more about its implications.
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