Just this week I was speaking with a client on the phone and the topic of sweeteners came up. Our way of eating is so focused on sweet taste that we’ve created a number of sugar alternatives–a misguided attempt to create the illusion of diet and health food using chemical sweeteners–not good.
Ironically, it is much better to just eat real sugar in small amounts rather than all these substitutes. The substitutes are not only unhealthy, they can be downright dangerous to our health.
Good Sugar Alternatives
Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana)
For many years now, stevia has seen widespread use in the United States as a sweetener. You can find it in many forms from tincture to powder. It is about 300 times sweeter than beet or cane sugar. In Japan, stevia corners about 47% of the sweetener market, but not in “leaf” form. They isolate only the compound called stevioside. Perhaps this type of use has encouraged us all to see stevia as merely a sugar substitute.
In fact, when stevia is consumed in its whole plant form there is much more to be had from this amazing plant. (Stay away from stevia that is a white crystalline color – this is not whole leaf stevia.) It has the ability to regulate blood sugar, both high and low. If your focus is on balanced hormones, the ability to replace chemical sugar substitutes and processed beet and cane sugar is an important one. We must keep in mind that insulin, after all, is a hormone. Hormonal imbalance can involve our adrenal glands, thyroid, and even our blood sugar levels.
Healthy Sugar Substitutes
Unhealthy Sugar Substitutes
Truthfully, everyone should stay away from the chemical creations meant to fool our bodies into thinking we’re eating something sweet. Every last one of them have side effects that are not worth the chemical taste they add to food. While we have a problem in our society with a sweet tooth, it is much better to eat sugar than to reach for foods that are filled with these franken-sweeteners.
Aspartame is sold around the world as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonfuls, Canderel, Bienvia, NatraSweet and Miwon. According to Nourishing Traditions:
Aspartame is a neurotoxic substance that has been associated with numerous health problems including dizziness, visual impairment, severe muscle aches, numbing of extremities, pancreatitis, high blood pressure, retinal hemorrhaging, seizures and depression. It is suspected of causing birth defects and chemical disruptions in the brain.
The FDA recommends that pregnant and lactating women, people with advanced liver disease and phenylketonurics avoid products containing aspartame due to concern over metabolizing phenylalanine. This metabolizes due to heat or prolonged storage and results in a known carcinogen.
Found in numerous sodas and other processed foods. It is listed by name and is a neurotoxin and strong allergen. Those with sulfa allergies should be especially cautious.
This chemical byproduct of chlorine and sugar has not been tested enough to show any kind of data on safety. The studies that have come forth indicate an ability to cause mutation. They also show a negative effect on diabetes and blood sugar levels. In laboratory settings it has been shown to cause damage to the thymus gland, liver and kidneys of rats.
How about you?
Which sweeteners do you use, and which do you stay away from?