I Drink My Coffee Black

by Ann Shum on March 28, 2014

If you're going to use sugar, make sure it's realsugar!

If you’re going to use sugar, make sure it’s real sugar!

There are three types of people in the world: those who enjoy tea, those who enjoy coffee, and those who just don’t need to caffeinate.

As you already know, I fall into the second category. I’m a coffee person. I enjoy drinking coffee. I enjoy the taste of coffee. And most importantly, I enjoy the caffeine kick.

Okay, it’s pretty safe to assume that I love coffee.

Recently I’ve decided that it’s time to grow up and drink my coffee black. I’m not crazy, I am well aware that the way I consume my coffee has absolutely no correlation as to whether or not I’ve become an adult or not.

But more often then not, I add a few packs of sugar to my coffee.

Okay I lied. Few is an understatement. I add about five to six packets.

Alarming?

Quite Possibly.

I didn’t get to the worst part: I’m not even using real sugar.

Usually I reach for packets of Sweet ‘N low, Equal, or sometimes if I’m really adventurous I’ll use Splenda. They’re all sufficient in satisfying my sweet tooth and making my coffee easier to down in a matter of seconds. However, I’m sad to say that I wasn’t doing myself a favor, artificial sweeteners aren’t all that great for our bodies.

Caution: This is not an article about written by someone who is staunchly against artificial sweeteners.

Don’t be alarmed if you’re also an avid user of Sweet n’ Low or other sweeteners; you’re not in any SERIOUS trouble.

This is an article meant to clear up a common misconception and nothing else.

The artificial sweeteners that we find at our neighborhood coffee shops are considered food additives. That is, substances that we intentionally add to our food to modify taste. Many food additives like Sulfites and Olestra cause health concerns among the population. Sulfites serve as a preservative to help foods maintain their color, but are often linked to breathing difficulties. Olestra is found in a lot of potato chips and have been linked to loose stools.  Although they have unappealing side effects, many of these food additives are still allowed in food distribution as long as they’re deemed safe by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The food additive that has recently caused me a certain amount of alarm is Aspartame. Aspartame is the main ingredient in many artificial sweeteners, and found in thousands of foods around the world. It is composed of L-phenylalanine and L-aspartic acid. In terms of taste, it’s about 180 – 200 times sweeter than sucrose – which is what makes it so popular in industry. (It can be used to sweeten foods in tiny quantities.) You’ve probably consumed more Aspartame than you’re aware of; it’s found in popular products like diet sodas, gum, candy, and even yogurt.

Since Aspartame is a food additive, it had to be approved by the FDA before it could be used on the market. Not to alarm you, but Aspartame has been retested twenty six times. Luckily, scientific research has affirmed its safety.

Now you may be wondering, why do I hear so many bad things about artificial sweeteners?

Although it’s deemed safe, many still argue that Aspartame is a toxic substance that can cause us all bodily harm. (Brace yourself – Here comes the controversy!) This is because when a molecule of aspartame breaks down, methanol is created in our bodies. Methanol, as many of you may know, is not something we want in our bodies. Whenever methanol is present, our body breaks it down into waste and one of the byproducts is the carcinogen formaldehyde.

Methanol is also present in some of our other foods, like fruits and vegetables. Don’t go and avoid all fruit now, it is deemed safe in small quantities, just like aspartame. Research shows that aspartame is safe to consume as long as it’s consumer within the acceptable daily intake of 50mg per kilogram of body weight. Aspartame will only become toxic if you consume over 4000mg per kilogram of body weight and let’s be real, no one uses that much Splenda!

If you look online, there are still many myths about the detriments that artificial sweeteners have on our health. As someone who used an average of five packets of sweetener per iced coffee at Starbucks, I’m happy to say that none of them have been proven true. Many articles are alarming and link sweeteners containing aspartame to the development of brain tumors, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, and some even go as far as to suggest that it can cause birth defects.

I’m not saying that I believe any of those myths, since nothing that terrible has happened to me so far, but there are other side effects of artificial sweeteners that are a little alarming. Because artificial sweeteners are so much sweeter than sugar, it changes the way we taste food. They over stimulate our sugar receptors and cause us to find less intensely sweet foods like fruit less appealing.

Over consumption is another problem. Artificial sweeteners tend to make us crave even more sweets. Especially since they are advertised as having lower calories! They subconsciously trick us into thinking that we can eat more and more sweets.  Some research even suggests that it becomes addictive. No matter what your sweet tooth is telling you, too many sweets are never a good thing. Don’t give in! (Unless of course obesity and diabetes is what your into)

Although artificial sweeteners are in a lot of the foods I consume, I’ve started to cut back my intake by diminishing the amount of sweeteners in my coffee.  Baby steps right?

With all the myths, debates, and possible side effects, I decided it was time to choose sides when it came to artificial sweeteners.

So like I said, I drink my coffee black.

 

Works Cited

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/artificial-sweeteners-sugar-free-but-at-what-cost-201207165030

http://www.livescience.com/36257-aspartame-health-effects-artificial-sweetener.html

http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/othercarcinogens/athome/aspartame

http://www.aspartame.org/aspartame-faq/aspartame-fact-sheet/#.UxZsqr_DSZY

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/the-complicated-truth-behind-aspartame/article16069158/

http://www.naturalnews.com/041307_Aspartame_artificial_sweeteners_obesity.html

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/top-10-scariest-food-additives

Photo from: http://javitacoffeeblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/how-to-lose-weight-with-javita-weight-loss-coffee/

 


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

sukienki April 30, 2014 at 4:07 pm

It’s nearly impossible to find educated people in this particular topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about! Thanks

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