Detecting Artificial Sweeteners In Our Food, Drinks & Supplements

by Dr David Minkoff May 28, 2024 6 min read

Athletic male bent over to catch his breath after working out.

In the last article we covered how many companies selling natural sweeteners such as stevia and monk fruit, knowingly or unknowingly cut their product with artificial sweeteners by 60% or as much as 100%.

They can do this because the only way to tell for sure is to do very extensive chemical testing.

Yet these artificial sweeteners can pose real health risks, from heart trouble to gut trouble.

And they're in about 99% of non-sugar sweetened products today.

But if it takes thorough chemical analytical testing to be absolutely sure it's natural, and you probably don't have access to that, what can you do to know what's real or not?

Well, there are a few ways.

But first, let’s look at what we did.

While formulating our new PerfectAmino Powder we received a sweetener that tasted sweeter than it should. It was labeled as pure, but it tasted amazing.

And it left a headache.

But according to the documents we received, and the company selling it, it was pure. There was nothing else in it.

But that was impossible. It was too sweet, it had no bitter after taste, and… we got headaches after taking it.

So we sent it in for analytical chemical testing.

But this testing isn’t what you think it is. You see, you can’t test something to see everything that’s in it. You can only test for specific things to see if they are in it.

Even more, you have to be very exact because some ingredients can even look like other ingredients in some cases if the test for it is too general.

So we tested for everything. And I mean everything. Every filler, every artificial sweetener, and the actual ingredient that was supposed to make it up.

How much of the actual ingredient was in this?

1%.

The rest was a mixture of artificial sweeteners and something else we couldn’t determine.

Yes, scary.

So we tested others, many, until we finally found sweeteners that tested for no artificial sweeteners, no fillers, but did test as being what they said they were.

And boy, were they expensive.

But what do you want? Do you want, a less expensive product with highly toxic chemicals in it? Or a product that not only tastes great, but is real and not sweetened with toxic elements that cause very real health conditions?

Right. We want the real stuff.

BodyHealth is about body health. And we’re not going to have it any other way.

But that’s what we did. And you obviously don’t have the ability to send your products in to be tested.

So how can you tell real sweeteners vs artificial sweeteners without exact chemical analytical testing?

Let’s see.


HOW TO TELL THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ARTIFICIAL & NATURAL SWEETENERS


First, look at the ingredients tab on the back.

No matter what the front of the bottle says, or the name, look at the back panel.

It should only list one ingredient, stevia or monk fruit. Or in the case of Katemfe Fruit (Thaumatococcus Daniellii) Extract, it should say Katemfe Fruit Extract or Thaumatin.

It should list those and nothing else.

Even better, look for one that lists only the natural sweetener and also says: “Contains No Artificial Sweeteners.”

If it lists erythritol, neotame, maltodextrin, aspartame, xylitol, sorbitol, acesulfame potassium, advantame, Saccharin, or Sucralose, or anything else, it’s not pure stevia or monk fruit, and likely contains little actual stevia or monk fruit.

Or, in the case of Katemfe Fruit Extract (Thaumatin), from what we found, even if it doesn’t list anything else, it likely contains almost no actual Katemfe Fruit.

That ingredient, unadulterated, is just too expensive.

We finally found the only source that actually meets FDA and European regulatory standards and provides actual, pure Katemfe Fruit Extract, and we use it sparingly in our formulation as it is truly about 30-50 times more expensive than even natural stevia.

So that’s the first thing. Look for only one ingredient on the back and a statement that it contains no artificial sweeteners.

Next is how they taste. Stevia, Monk Fruit and Katemfe Fruit Extract all have very specific tastes.

Katemfe Fruit has a very slow-building sweetness that is light, with a somewhat licorice aftertaste.

If you find it in a product, and it’s very sweet, it’s almost certainly cut with an ingredient called neotame, the sweetest artificial sweetener. That was what we found.

So, whereas artificial sweeteners are very sweet, natural sweeteners are nowhere near as sweet.

Let’s compare. We’ll start with stevia.


TASTING REAL STEVIA AND MONK FRUIT


The word “Stevia” covers several different extracts, or Steviol Glycosides as they’re called, from the plant Stevia Rebaudiana.

The stevia most people have used or tasted in foods and drinks is Stevia Reb A, short for rebaudioside-A, the most abundant steviol in the Stevia Plant. If you purchase a product labeled as Stevia, it is almost certain that it is Stevia Reb A.

Pure reb A is 250 to 450 times sweeter than table sugar with a bitter, licorice-like aftertaste.

Reb M, on the other hand, is the rarest extract, making up only 0.1% of a whole stevia leaf.

This makes Stevia Reb A much more common, and so, much less expensive.

The main differences between natural Stevia Reb M and Reb A is that Reb M is sweeter than Reb A, and also does not have the same somewhat bitter aftertaste that Reb A has.

Due to this aftertaste, and because it’s much less expensive, many ingredient manufacturers add additional sweeteners to Stevia Reb A, usually erythritol.

If your Pure Stevia is very sweet, or doesn’t have a butter, licorice aftertaste, it’s not fully stevia. There is something else in it.

Stevia Reb M, which is in our PerfectAmino Powder and Electrolytes, is sweeter and has no bitter aftertaste.

But it’s not too sweet. And it’s much more expensive than you would want to pay. So if you find something labeled stevia Reb M, if it isn’t much more expensive than Reb A, or costs the same, or if it’s very sweet, it likely contains artificial sweeteners.

Even more, there is now a synthetic version of Reb M which can legally be marketed as “natural,” and is being marketed as such right now.

But it’s actually a synthetic version of the real thing.

There are currently no tests we could find on the effects of this synthetic version.

But if you Stevia Reb M, and it’s not much more expensive, it’s probably either synthetic or mixed with artificial sweeteners.

We have a similar story with Monk Fruit. It is almost always cut with an artificial sweetener, usually erythritol.

Many find that actually pure Monk Fruit has a somewhat unpleasant after taste, but also has a slight cooling effect on the tongue, a bit like mint.

If your pure monk fruit has neither of these, or is quite sweet, it’s likely cut with erythritol or something else.

And the last way to tell is how you feel.

Many artificial sweeteners can trigger headaches or stomach discomfort.

Our stomach and small intestine are not designed to break these down fully.

If your product causes feelings of pain, inflammatory responses, or even diarrhea, there may very well be artificial sweeteners in the product.

This is because some artificial sweeteners, such as neotame and erythritol, actually harm our intestinal lining by breaking down the cells that line it.

They also harm the beneficial bacteria in our colon that produce our calming neurotransmitter GABA and Serotonin.

So if you get headaches whenever you take it, have feelings of gut discomfort, or find that you start feeling a bit more anxious, stressed out, or have trouble sleeping, there is likely an artificial sweetener in your product.


IN SUMMARY: WHAT TO LOOK FOR


Alright, that’s a lot. And I hope it helped.

There is much more on this subject, and I recommend you research it as these are becoming more and more widely used and the studies on what they actually do inside our bodies are still very incomplete.

The best thing is to stay away from processed foods which usually contain these, and stick to organic, real foods as much as you can.

And if you do use a stevia or monk fruit sweetener:

Look its ingredients up and down

Make sure there are no other ingredients if it’s a pure formula

Look for a statement that it contains no artificial sweeteners

Test its sweetness and taste compared to how it should taste naturally

And see how you feel after taking it for a few days.

If it passes the above test, use it. But if it doesn’t, throw it away.

And know that we tested our natural sweeteners very closely to ensure they are fully the real thing. And the cost matches.

I hope this helps.


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.