Sugar is one of the few things that everybody knows is bad for your teeth. Some people imagine that the actual product itself ruins your teeth, but this is false. Sugar feeds the bacteria in your mouth that then overproliferate and secrete acidic byproducts that eat away at the enamel of your teeth and at the tooth structures themselves, causing tooth decay and cavities. Sugar is otherwise bad for your health because it raises your blood pressure, causes diabetes, and is extremely addictive.
Are artificial sweeteners so healthy?
Please also be aware that not all sugars are the sweet, crystalline substance we know and love: most sugars are carbs of other hues and varieties, like grains and flour and refined cornstarch, and all of these cause cavities because they feed bacteria.
But not all alternatives to sugar are equal, as some artificial sweeteners also have negative health effects. Here is a list of what NOT to use as an alternative to sugar.
The internet is full of rumours and conspiracy theories about aspartame, saying it is a mind control substance and that it is akin to rat poison. Even without these extreme qualities, aspartame is really bad for you. It is carcinogenic, for one, and this has been proven beyond a doubt numerous times. Aspartame breaks down into phenylalanine, which is bad for you, but particularly bad for anyone who is sensitive to it. Aspartame is very rapidly broken down and digested, but leaves some nasty by products: methanol, aspartic acid and the already mentioned phenylalanine. Although safe for human consumption, it is best to avoid this sweetener.
Saccharine is much sweeter than sugar in general and thus much less of it used, and it does not contain any nutritional value at all. There were, however health concerns that it causes bladder cancer in humans, which has since been studied extensively and experts now believe that it is only very mildly carcinogenic.
Sucralose is a seemingly really good artificial sweetener, because it is not metabolized, is absorbed easily by the body, and does not have any nutritional value. It is also not carcinogenic, but it does alter the intestinal flora (more on that later). It is the main ingredient in products like APM, NutraSweet or Canderel.
A common problem
The main problem with artificial sweeteners like the ones mentioned above is that they are highly addictive and super sweet, which means that to get the same effect with regular sugar you need to consume a lot more than you are used to. The intestinal flora also responds to these sweeteners negatively, and they change to be less able to absorb “normal” carbohydrates. These sweeteners also affect the ability to regulate your blood pressure, and so are not good for you at all. Please try and avoid them if you can.