If you’re like me and millions of other Americans, you love your sweets! However, now-a-days most of us are ingesting far more sugar than what are bodies can possibly process (sugar that does not get immediately used for ‘energy’ will be stored as triglycerides, aka FAT). Most health practitioners and advocates agree that you shouldn’t eat more than 40g (approximately 10 tsp) of sugar a day if you are taking in a 2000 calorie diet, and this is advised to be from fruit and other natural sources such as complex carbohydrate grains and vegetables. Many of us aren’t even eating a full 2000 calorie diet yet our average daily sugar intake is at least double the RDA – a whopping 22tsp!
While sugar (glucose) is the essential nutrient your body uses for energy, your body gets all the sugar it needs from whole foods. Your amazing God-Pod will turn every carbohydrate you eat into it’s simpliest form: sugar/glucose, to draw energy into your cells. Surely that slice of chocolate cake will only burden the load of sugars your body is already sorting, causing an excess which leads to fat storage. What ‘energy’/sugar your body doesn’t need immediately will get stored for usage later in Fat Cells. Problem is, we never need to tap into that fuel source/fat source since we are constantly feeding our faces. Even too much fruit sugar (fructose) at once can be overwhelming for your body. Side Note: Your liver processes fructose. What isn’t needed for immediate energy will again be stored in fat cells. That doesn’t mean not to eat fruit, EAT FRUIT – it’s packed with vitamins and nutrients, but be mindful how much sugary fruit you pile in.
Even more unfortunate is that much of this sugar we consume is from sweetened beverages and packaged foods that not only aren’t fueling our bodies in the first place, but are hiding in many of our favorite products (label readers: look at your granola bars, cereals, yogurts, protein bar wrappers, and fruit juices. Many of them, including 100% pure juice may have more than 12 tsps of sugar in an 8 oz glass which is about a third of the glass or half of a 4 inch snack bar!!!). This massive sugar consumption is not only leading to obesity, and diabetes, but also putting us at higher risk for multiple other factors, such as cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
Being such, many items are now being sweetened with zero calorie sugar substitutes. While many of us might see this as a viable solution, sugar substitutes are highly refined, often chemical structures that create a cocktail of neurotoxins and hormone disrupters in our bodies. Many of these substitutes signal your body to release insulin (the hormone used to draw sugar into your cells), but with no sugar for it to hook onto, insulin signals your body to eat to provide that sugar it’s searching for. This is why sweeteners are said to make one more hungry. Substitutes also mess with leptin, the hormone which tells your body it’s full. Constant stimulation of insulin and leptin can cause burn out, or what is called resistance, sending you into a downward spiral of constant hunger. diabetic tendencies, and fat storage. With so many types of sugar substitutes on the market it’s time to demystify these sweet little wonders and get chewing on the right thing.
The Sweet & Low-Down:
- Saccharin is one of the oldest sugar substitutes, often found in sodas and packets at the cafes. The National Cancer Institute concluded that long term use of saccharin is related to bladder cancer, hence why after the FDA approved it, they had to amend the label so that it warns “use of this product my be hazardous to your health”.
- Aspartame contains a wood alcohol in it called Methanol. While it contains only 10% methanol, levels of 7.8 mg a day are found to be toxic. The amount of methanol in a liter of soda sweetened with aspartame is 56mg!!! That’s more than 7 times the toxic level! Just a few of the side effects of aspartame may be weight gain, headache, migraine, nausea, and numbness.
- Neotame- Aspartame now has a sister called neotame. While you may only be starting to see this one coming out, it’s more toxic than aspartame. It’s also used under the name Sweetos when sweetening cattle feed. Hmmmm, a diet sugar used to fatten cattle??? If it’s making the cow hungry and he’s getting fat on it, then surely you will too!!!
- Sucralose is created by substituting chlorine atoms (a toxin and carcinogen) in place of sucrose atoms in sugar. It is a complex multi step chemical process, that in the end in no way resembles a natural sugar.
- Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol originally derived from birch trees. Most xylitol is now often derived from maize, a crop which is often hybridized/genetically modified. Also, xylitol is highly poisonous to pets. Many toothpastes and chewing gum brands are now sweetened with xylitol, and oddly enough it’s in some plant fertilizers. If you are a pet owner i would suggest keeping anything with xylitol out of the house. Some people have reported stomach upset, gas, and bloating.
- Erythritol is another sugar alcohol occurring naturally in fermented foods and fruits. It generally has a lesser effect on stomach upset and bloating. It is industrially produced by breaking down food starch into glucose, then fermenting the glucose with a yeast called Moniliella pollinis.
- Stevia is an herb that comes from the sunflower family natively growing in central and south america. It has been used for hundreds of years by Indians in Paraguay to impart sweetness to teas, or even to chew on the leaves. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar so you really only need a small amount, as well the flavor might take some adjusting to. While it imparts sweetness in small amounts, in larger amounts it imparts a licorice like flavor. Stevia LEAF has a negligible impact on blood sugar and has even been shown to lower hypertension (high blood pressure). While stevia is a plant, the processed white powder you get at the store is heavily refined, therefore there is question whether it would have the same implication on health as the whole plant/leaf would have. If you choose to use stevia look for the whole dried leaves which you can grind in a coffee mill, or grow a plant in your backyard. You’ll see the highly refined versions in the store in little packets or liquids. Both products contain reboudioside (referred to as Rebiana or Reb A). This is a highly purified extract of stevia.