Today's WNY Refresh cover story on artificial sweeteners won't be the last word on the subject. A debate rages in medical, nutrition and fitness circles about the the usefulness of these products as they pertain to diet, diabetes and overall health.
To be sure, most experts are in agreement that sugar is bad.
Kathryn Medler, associate professor of biological studies at the University at Buffalo, is among researchers who continue to explore how sugar and fat operate on the brain, in an effort to better understand obesity. Read a story about her research here.
The picture is cloudier when it comes to chemically created sweeteners. Read a story from the Mayo Clinic here that lays out the changing landscape.
The Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health is among those to report that the available data on artificial sweetener use remains inconclusive. Read that story here.
Meanwhile, Yale University biologists point out that the obesity epidemic has gained steam while the use of artificial sweeteners has grown dramatically. See that link here.
And some of the latest research suggests that a decades-old belief that artificial sweeteners don't raise blood sugar levels may be wrong. See a related New York Times story here.
The growing doubt extend to sugar-free sodas, as well, as a recent story here from the Environmental Newsletter shows.
While the research continues, the ground rules for a healthy diet remain the same:
* Bring out natural sweetness in foods by eating fruits and broiling vegetables.
* Water is by far the healthiest drink. It you want to enhance its flavor, add lemon, cucumber or fruit.
* Vegetables and fruits should fill half of your meal plate; healthy, low-fat proteins should fill one-quarter; and whole grains and legumes should round it out.
* Snacks should include healthy fats, like nuts, and fruits and veggies.
Williamsville Chiropractor Michael Christopher is among those who advises steering clear of sugar and artificial sweeteners as the debate goes forward – one of them in particular:
High fructose corn syrup, a key ingredient in more products than you might believe. So read those product labels.
"Blood sugar goes through the roof with that," he said, "and it’s a matter of time before you’re getting alterations in everything from mood to energy levels.”