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Pregnant and sweeteners

  1. There are many stories about sweeteners. New sweeteners keep appearing on the market, and some sweeteners are said to be harmful to health. This is especially difficult if you are pregnant, because you do not want to take any risks. So if you are pregnant it is good to delve into the facts and fables about sweeteners and to know in what amounts sweeteners can be harmful. For the time being, the advice for pregnant women is that any amount of sweeteners below the ADI is considered safe.

Sweet

  1. Many babies like sweet. This is because the milk they get is also sweet. Even the amniotic fluid they drank when they were not yet born tasted sweet. But babies aren't the only ones who like it sweet. Children and adults also love it. Since sugar provides a lot of calories and can be a cause of tooth decay, there is an alternative, the so-called sweeteners. There are two types of sweeteners: polyols and low calorie sweeteners.

Polyols

  1. Polyols are sugar alcohols. The aldehyde group has been replaced with an alcohol group. They are barely absorbed in the small intestine, but in the large intestine they are converted by bacteria to produce gases. This can cause cramps. Due to the water-binding capacity of the polyols, it can also cause diarrhea. Polyols are less sweet than sugar. Due to their difficult digestibility, they do provide fewer calories. This is often not interesting for calorie reduction, except in products in which the sugar serves as a filler, such as in cake. Besides intestinal complaints, there are no known side effects of polyols. Examples of polyols are sorbitol, xylitol and maltitol.

Low calorie sweeteners

  1. Low calorie sweeteners are intensive sweeteners. The sweetening power is 200 to 500 times stronger than sugar. The calorific value is about the same as that of sugar, but due to the low dosage they provide a negligible amount of calories. Most sweeteners are synthetic and man-made. Examples are aspartame, cyclamate, saccharin and sucralose. There are also sweeteners derived from plants such as steviol glycosides, thaumathin and tagatose.

Dangers of sweeteners for pregnant women

  1. Sweeteners have received a lot of bad criticism in recent years. More and more research is emerging that sweeteners can be harmful to the health of pregnant women and their unborn child.

Investigations

  1. For example, in 2010 a Danish study was carried out on almost 60,000 pregnant women. This study showed an association between the amount of diet sodas consumed and preterm birth. It turned out that a daily consumption of diet soft drinks was 38 percent more likely to give birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy. Consumption of more than four cans per day increases the risk by 78 percent. The cause was probably methanol, a substance found in some sweeteners in diet soft drinks, which plays a role in the premature birth. It is also said that aspartame should be avoided by pregnant women because sweeteners can lead to an increased level of phenylalanine in the fetus, which can hinder the growth of the fetal brain. Later it turned out that the studies contained methodological impurities. These kinds of contradictions often leave uncertainties about the safety of sweeteners. Sweeteners for pregnant women are considered safe by various scientific bodies, including the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), as long as the ADI is not exceeded.

ADI

  1. Using ADI is the acceptable daily intake. The ADI of a sweetener is the amount that you can take in every day without it being bad for your health. Substances that are not naturally present in foods have an ADI. A recent survey by the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority indicated that 96% of products containing sweetener do not exceed permitted doses. Often different types of low-calorie sugars are combined in order not to exceed the maximum amount. The label of a product that has been sweetened with sweeteners always states which substances have been used. When consuming several types of light products, care must be taken not to exceed the ADI.

ADI different sweeteners

  1. The ADI of different sweeteners is shown in the table below.

How much sweetener is safe during pregnancy?

  1. At present, no difference is made between the ADI for pregnant women and the ADI for non-pregnant women. This means that if the amount of sweetener stays below the ADI, you are getting a safe amount. Because it is often difficult to determine how much sweetener a product contains, a table for soft drinks is shown below.



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