Very often while helping clients to reduce anxiety, I am asked, “Do artificial sweeteners cause or make anxiety symptoms worse?”
Yes, research shows that artificial sweeteners do trigger anxiety and panic attacks. Sweeteners are known to make anxiety disorders worse and as part of our anxiety treatment program, a full food and intolerance test is completed to establish how your diet is affecting your mental health.
Anxiety clients often notice some foods and additives make their anxiety symptoms worse, often triggering panic and anxiety attacks.
Here we will explore exactly what are artificial sweeteners? why they cause anxiety issues and where you will find them?
Artificial Sweeteners & Anxiety Disorder Issues?
Artificial sweeteners are known to be neurotoxins that can disrupt normal brain function which includes increasing anxiety symptoms.
According to Dr Joe Esposito, artificial sweeteners are also Vaso-Constrictors, meaning they cause the blood vessels to constrict, reducing the blood supply to certain parts of the body and brain.
Artificial sweeteners are also known to be very acidic and make changes to the chemistry of the brain.
Claims are made that sweeteners are linked to poor gut flora which is also known to change our mood, affecting our mental health.
Many people report they notice mood swings, energy level changes and increased feelings of anxiety after consuming products with artificial sweeteners. The challenge is that they are usually found in foods that are also known not be good for our health.
Names Used For Artificial Sweeteners
- Amino Sweet
- Acesulfame K
- Acesulfame potassium
- E420 and E421
Are Artificial Sweeteners Healthier Than Sugar?
The producers of artificial sweeteners do market their products as a healthier alternative to processed sugars. We all know that processed sugars are certainly not good for our health and the cause of many health problems. Artificial sweeteners do give us sweetness with reduced calorific intake but have the following issues.
Artificial Sweeteners Confuse The Bodies Digestive Process.
When our bodies taste anything sweet they naturally respond by producing insulin and digestive enzymes. The body is naturally primed and ready to deal with the incoming sugars, that never arrive. The body is then unsure of what is going on and then stores the next food we consume up to 20 times more than if we had consumed processed sugar.
This process then results in low blood sugars and the body then sends a message to the brain that we are hungry again, increase weight gain.
How Artificial Sweeteners Increase Anxiety & Blood Pressure
Artificial Sweeteners are known to be Vaso-Constrictors and cause our blood vessels to constrict, pushing up blood pressure and anxiety levels at the same time. This is rather dangerous as this can be linked to heart attacks, heart disease and stroke problems.
Reducing the blood supply to any part of the body is very dangerous and may cause the brain and other vital organs to malfunction. It is claimed that reducing the blood supply to the eyes can result in macular degeneration with similar problems happening elsewhere in the body.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Toxic To The Body?
According to research, artificial sweeteners are toxic to the body and brain as they are neurotoxins. As a result, they change brain chemistry causing changes to essential brain function, changes in behaviour, changes in mood and triggering anxiety attacks and panic attacks.
Artificial sweeteners are also very acidic, changing the PH level of the body which is never good. As a result, the body may remove calcium stores from the bones to neutralise the acid.
Sweeteners can be so acidic they can remove the paint from your car.
As a fun experiment simply pour a can of your favourite fizzy drink onto the bonnet of your car and leave for 24 hours. Notice how shiny the bonnet looks after just a day and feel free to send us a photo of your new paintwork.
Artifical Sweeteners, Digestive Issues & Intolerances
As part of our Anxiety Freedom Program, we often conduct a food sensitivity test as there are links to poor gut flora and anxiety disorders. There appears to be a link between consuming artificial sweeteners and digestive issues such as food intolerances, candida problems and poor gut flora. It is claimed that sweeteners may disrupt the good bacteria in the gut which then causes further digestive issues which can then cause further mood and mental health issues.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Addictive?
Yes, it appears so. We have encountered a number of anxiety clients who have struggled with addiction to artificial sweeteners. Thankfully, clinical hypnotherapy is a very powerful way to help with addiction issues and this helps anxiety clients to remove problems foods and additives from their diet.
Which Foods Contain Artificial Sweeteners?
Usually cheap, processed food and drink contain artificial sweeteners and these foods can also be a trigger for anxiety and mental health issues. Many of these cheaper junk foods are associated with health and mental health problems. You will often find artificial sweeteners in the following foods.
- Chewing Gum
- Fizzy Drinks
- Energy Drinks
- Soft Drinks
- Processed Foods
- Energy Bars
- Protein Shakes
- Diet Drinks
- Diet Foods
- Baked Goods
- Alcoholic Drinks
- Crisps – Potato Chips
- Ice Cream
- Flavoured Water
- Sugar-Free, Low Sugar, Reduced Sugar Labeled Foods
Anxiety Disorders & Artificial Sweeteners
On a regular basis, we do see anxiety disorder clients struggling with certain foods and additives. Artificial Sweeteners are one of the biggest triggers of making anxiety symptoms worse and increasing panic attacks and anxiety attacks.
One way to check this for yourself is to totally remove all sweeteners from your diet for just 4 weeks. Keep a diary of how you feel as you remove the sweeteners and also notice how your mood changes and improves over the weeks.
After four weeks, start consuming the sweeteners again and notice how you feel in your body and mood.
Many clients tell us they struggle as they remove the artificial sweeteners as they feel rather tense and nervous for the first few days as withdrawal symptoms. Thankfully as time passes they start to feel better and their energy levels improve, moods stabilise while the mind becomes clearer. Typically anxiety and stress levels start to reduce nicely after a week and constantly improve as the client improves their diet.
Quite a number of clients report that their anxiety attacks and panic attacks reduce dramatically on removing artificial sweeteners from their diet.
Other Health Issues Linked To Artificial Sweeteners
There are many claims that artificial sweeteners cause a lot of health issues including
- Anxiety Disorders
- Digestive Issues
- High Blood pressure
- Macular Degeneration
- Heart Disease
- Poor Gut Flora
- Breathing Problems
- Nerve Damage
- Liver Toxicity
- Kidney Toxicity
- Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Poor Energy Levels
- Mood Swings
- Stress Problems
- Emotional Issues
- Loss Of Appetite
- Behavioural Problems
- Over Eating
Are Artificial Sweeteners Healthy For Children?
No. Sweeteners are not healthy for anybody as they have so many health issues. Children are often very sensitive to food additives, food colourings and dyes. These often affect behaviour and are claimed to alter healthy brain development. Research is currently being conducted into how food additives affect disorders such as ADHD, Autism and behavioural problems in children.
Which Is The Healthiest Sweetener?
There are many claims that some artificial sweeteners are more “natural” or “healthier” than others. Do watch out for the marketing hype.
Stevia, as it comes naturally, is thought to be a much healthier sweetener, however, many stevia products on the market have been modified or chemically altered to make them unique.
As a result, these products are continuously tested on animals to look at the many health concerns, even after being on the market for many years.
As a rule, I would advise leaving all artificial sweeteners alone and use healthier alternatives or even processed sugar.
Healthy Alternatives To Artificial Sweeteners
Processed sugar is not good for us but it is a healthier choice than an artificial sweetener. The better alternatives to sweeteners and processed sugars are natural fruit sugar, molasses and coconut sugar. For baking, ripe bananas are perfect for cakes instead of processed sugar. You can use a whole range of fruits for baking and cooking.
Changing Our Diet To Change Our Mood
It is well known that our foods really do affect our moods. Sadly life has become busier for many of us and convenience foods are a great time saver.
However, when anxiety disorders start to affect our lives in a negative way, people are keen to look at the options to resolve mental health problems fast.
As part of the Anxiety Freedom Program, we do look at all of the factors that may be causing an anxiety disorder. Food and diet is just a small part of the picture but without addressing it, anxiety will not be resolved.
Learning to choose a healthy diet including fresh fruits and vegetables is just as important as understanding your anxiety triggers, learning the tools and skills to stop and eliminate the anxiety for good.
Removing processed foods, chemically-laden snacks and drinks is a big step forward to resolving anxiety disorders for many people.
Do You Need Help With Anxiety?
Newcastle Hypnotherapy offer specialist help to reduce and eliminate anxiety problems.
As part of the program, we teach you powerful tools to stop anxiety, stress, worry, negative thoughts and intrusive thinking. We also look at all of the factors relevant to your anxiety disorder with the aim of eliminating it for good.
To find out more about our programs and how they can help you, book a Free Strategy Call and also see our many success stories.
Dr Joe Esposito – What are excitotoxins?
Dr Michael Greger – Neurobiology of Artificial Sweeteners
K Ansel (2014). The Inside Scoop on Artificial Sweeteners. Eat Right
Peter Osborne. (2016). No Grain, No Pain: a 30-day diet for eliminating the root cause of chronic pain. New York, NY: Touchstone.
M Spencer. (2016). Artificial Sweeteners: A Systematic Review and Primer for Gastroenterologists. https://dx.doi.org/10.5056/jnm15206
J Suez, T Koram, Zilberman-Schapira, G Segal, E Elinav, (2015). Non-caloric artificial sweeteners and the microbiome: findings and challenges. Gut Microbes, https://dx.doi.org/10.1080%2F19490976.2015.1017700