Dr. Whitney Bowe, renowned dermatologist and author of The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Feeling Radiant From The Inside Out was a self-proclaimed fake sugar “junkie.” But once she began researching the effects of artificial sweeteners on her body and her skin, these fake sweeteners just didn’t seem as sweet as before. While these additives may satisfy our sweet tooth in the short term, the long term effects of artificial sweeteners on the body can cause a lot of harm, including increased sugar cravings, weight gain and skin problems. Here’s why Dr. Bowe tells all her patients to cut out the artificial sweeteners completely.
My dermatology patients are often surprised when I ask them about artificial sweeteners in their diet because they still believe that fake sweeteners are somehow better for them than their real sugar counterparts. I certainly thought so too and used artificial sweeteners regularly for a long time. But the proof comes when I put my patients on a low-sugar diet that includes no artificial sweeteners. They are almost always rewarded with clearer, calmer, smoother skin!
Now that I’ve kicked my sugar-junkie habits to the curb, it’s fascinating to look back on what used to be my normal eating habits. I’d start my day with a mild blend of coffee, at least one packet of aspartame and a tablespoon of sugar-free hazelnut powdered creamer—the sweeter the better! I was also totally addicted to a specific diet and I had up to three sweetened iced teas a day. I craved that diet iced tea in a bad way. I’d become grumpy if I didn’t have it! And then to make matters worse, throughout the day, I would put sweetener on foods that had no business having sugar on them, ending with my typical nightcap of a diet soda.
What’s Wrong With Artificial Sweeteners?
I wasn’t the only one who thought that artificial sweeteners were fine to use and better than sugar. For a long time, scientists believed that artificial sweeteners had no effect on the body and that sugar substitutes such as saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), sucralose (Splenda) and aspartame (Equal) did not have harmful effects on the body.
But here’s the shocking truth. While it’s true that these artificial sweeteners don’t have calories, adding fake sugar into our diet can absolutely have an impact on our bodies, and even cause the same metabolic disorders that real sugar causes. In fact, today, we have a lot of research that proves that artificial sweeteners have the power to disrupt our gut’s microbial inhabitants, and as a consequence negatively affect metabolism and blood sugar balance. This cause lead to skin issues including acne and rosacea!
Now we understand that as artificial sweeteners pass through our digestive system, they can trigger temporary rises in insulin levels and change the composition of bacteria in our gut—our microbiome—to favor an unhealthy metabolism. Studies are emerging to show that the gut bacteria of people who regularly consume artificial sweeteners is very different from those of people who do not.
This explains why eating artificial sweeteners has been linked to weight gain, a higher fasting blood glucose level and an elevated risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, there are many well-designed studies that include tens of thousands of people that have shown without a question that fake sugars can actually increase your risk for being overweight with serious metabolic disorders over the long term. One study revealed that women who drank artificially sweetened drinks over the course of 20 years had double the risk of developing diabetes than women who drank beverages sweetened with real sugar.
Artificial Sweeteners Are Not Kind To Your Skin
So what does all of this have to do with skin? It’s simple. When your gut is unhappy, so is your skin, and artificial sweeteners make your gut fairly unhappy!
Because these diet foods and beverages not only increase the risk of insulin resistance and diabetes, but they can also trigger skin disorders such as acne or rosacea that develop as a result of inflammation. This is because artificial sweeteners disrupt the balance of the body’s blood sugar, leading to hormonal imbalances and….acne.
So while consuming these sweeteners doesn’t actually provide any additional calories, the sweet taste of fake sugar triggers some of the same biological responses that actual sugar does when we eat it. And it can have a worse effect on your body that real sugar.
That’s why I suggest doing what I did and eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet completely to erase the negative effects on your body. I’ll be honest. It was not pretty, and it was hard. But if I can do it, I know you can too! And your hard work will pay off once you see the difference in clearer, healthier looking skin!
If you want to learn more about how artificial sugar, real sugar and how your entire diet impacts your skin and your overall health, check out my book—The Beauty of Dirty Skin: The Surprising Science of Feeling Radiant From The Inside Out or visit my website.
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