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Associated song of the day: Sugar
Artificial sweeteners are a hot topic of conversation these days and everybody has an opinion. Even before I went to school for nutrition, I had plenty of my own opinions about sugar and their alternatives. I am happy to say that my education only solidified my belief system with regard to artificial sweeteners and how they affect us.
There was a study conducted by Nature The International Journal of Science in 2014 that goes into more detail about how artificial sweeteners affect your gut.
A digestible run down of the information is artificial sweetener consumption leads to insulin sensitivity as well as microbiota change in the gut. The very thing that we are trying to solve, not ingesting so much sugar, in fact creates other metabolic issues in our system.
Ingesting artificial sweeteners creates a change in your glucose uptake. So when you do ingest sugar again, your body overreacts and takes up even more glucose. This can directly affect those that either have Type 1 Diabetes (where your pancreas does NOT operate anymore) or Type II Diabetes (which can usually be regulated with diet, and in most cases, reversed).
The most commons artificial sweeteners that we see in our market today are Equal, Sweet n’ Low, Splenda and Stevia. Let me give you a brief rundown of each one and the chemical breakdowns.
The main ingredient is aspartame, which has been associated with headaches and dizziness. Aspartame is created in a lab by combining two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine, together.
Sweet n’ Low
The main ingredient is saccharin. It has been associated with bladder cancer in lab rats and was suggested to be banned by the USDA in 1972 with no luck. Although, the FDA now states that it is not a carcinogen and it has been removed from their lists.
The main ingredient is Sucralose, which is my absolute favorite (this is dripping with sarcasm here). Sucralose is created by attaching a chlorine atom to a sucrose atom. The purpose of this is to trick your body into NOT sensing the sugar.
The issue with this is that chlorine is highly toxic to our human anatomy, and is used in chlorine bombs! Therefore, instead of sensing the sugar, our bodies sense the chlorine and turn on our immune systems to attack.
This then weakens our immune system and makes us more susceptible to illness and disease. Sucralose has been known to cause cancer and is banned in almost every other country in the world.
The least bitter and sweetest part of the Stevia plant that is indigenous to the tropical and subtropical areas of Latin America. It has been a natural sweetener for tribes in Latin America for many years. In America, it is sometimes just the rebaudioside or the stevioside, which is more bitter. However, a lot of companies peddling Stevia have actually added some of their own chemical compositions to the natural rebaudioside. By doing that, they are changing how it can act in your body.
Not only this, but NAS (artificial sweeteners) can create a whole host of other negative side effects such as:
- Memory loss
- Weight gain!
When it comes to sugar and losing weight, or even maintaining, the best solution is to simply cut down on your sugar intake. Some of the best alternatives to straight white bleached and highly processed sugar are:
- Brown Rice Syrup
- Coconut Sugar
- Pure Maple Syrup
- Pure Stevia
- Raw Cane Sugar (Also known as Turbinado or Sugar in the Raw)
- Sugar Cane
The Take Home
Ultimately, it is always best to keep your sugar/sweetener intake lower. So, stick with products that occur in nature naturally without us humans altering them drastically. I choose to get most of my sugar intake from fructose in the fruits that I eat. When I do need to sweeten my coffee, I do so with coconut sugar. When I bake treats, I use unsweetened applesauce and add organic vegan vanilla protein powder for added protein and a touch of sweetness.
I realize that for a large part of the population that cutting out artificial sweeteners and excess sugar is a difficult feat. However, take my word for it that after you have cut down on it for a few weeks, you will notice how overly sweet a lot of the products on the market are.
Your taste buds do change regularly! Due to that, you will get used to the lower sugar intake in a short period of time. Once you do, your body will love you for it!
What are your thoughts on sugar substitutes?