Once thought of as a healthier alternative to sugar, artificial sweeteners have since been exposed as the taste bud manipulators that they are. "We used to think artificial sweeteners were the answer to everything," Brooke Alpert, MS, RD, CDN, and author of The Sugar Detox, told Prevention. "But they are not as virtuous as they'd like you to believe—they are serious chemicals that may have adverse effects on your health."
The false anticipation of sweetness plays a host of tricks on the body and brain, from manipulating tastes to compromising your self-control. The first thing that happens when you cut them out of your diet? You'll be able to get your fix from natural sugars. "The sweetness levels of these artificial sweeteners bombard our taste buds and they cause us to no longer be able to determine what is sweet anymore," explains Alpert. "We lose our taste for natural sweetness. Because of that we need heavy levels of sweetness to satisfy that sweet tooth."
From there, your blood sugar levels will stabilize, you may shed a few pounds, and your gut health will improve,she says. But the largest change will be in your diet—you'll find it easier to make healthy eating decisions. "Make sugar an intentional indulgence … and you'll have a better knack for portion control," says Alpert. "People who opt for 'diet' foods have skewed understanding of what constitutes healthy. If you eat fresh, unprocessed food, you will not encounter artificial sugar."
For more, read up on what happens to your body when you stop eating meat, and share your artificial-sweetener alternative below.