Sugar Free Ain’t Free
Sugar-free sweeteners were initially created for people dealing with diabetes. Now, the idea that sugar substitutes are healthy has become rooted in the American psyche and are hard to avoid in today’s food supply.
Researchers are now realizing that these artificial sweeteners have only made things worse by creating even more sugar-addicts.
Programmed For Sweetness
We are naturally programmed to crave sweetness – it is one of our 4 taste receptors after all (sweet, sour, bitter, and salty).
The problem is that we have been consuming artificial, processed foods for so long that we have built up a tolerance for sweet foods. This means we need foods to get sweeter and sweeter in order for them to satisfy our cravings and naturally sweet foods like apples, grapes, strawberries, and sweet potatoes no longer do the trick.
Many people don’t realize that fake sweeteners can cause an addiction to overly sweet foods that, in turn, lead to dangerous health side affects.
What kinds of problems do sugar free sweeteners cause?
Problems associated with sugar free sweeteners include:
- Mood disorders (depression)
- Diabetes type 2
- Cardiovascular disease.
When we consume something that tastes sweet but does not contain any calories (for example, 0 calorie beverages) it tricks the body into thinking it’s going to receive sugar. When the body realizes it didn’t get the sugar it thought it was getting, the body craves more.
These sweeteners confuse your metabolism, stimulate appetite, increase carb cravings and promote weight gain.
What is it that these sugar substitutes are meant to replace?
We are replacing real, natural foods with man-made chemicals and are taught to believe they are better for us.
Here are some of the most common artificial sweeteners found in our food today:
- Aspartame (found in diet sodas, Equal, NutraSweet, & many other products) related to migraines, nausea/vomiting, insomnia, memory less and seizures.
- Sucralose (Splenda) is a chlorinated sucrose derivative and was originally found through development of a new insecticide.
- Acesulfame K (ACE, ACE K, Sunette, Sweet One, Sweet ‘N Safe) often found with aspartame. Shown to cause nausea, mood problems, liver, kidney and eye problems, as well as autism.
- Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low) found in many children’s medications and is linked to digestive upset and other health concerns mentioned above.
- Xylitol (Erythritol, Maltitol, & other sugar alcohols ending in –itol) are not absorbed very well in the body and can cause allergic reactions. It is linked to gastrointestinal issues including bloating, cramping and diarrhea.
These artificial sweeteners, along with others, are commonly found in processed foods, medications, and beverages (which is a great reason to start reading labels!).
The Good News
There is some good news. There are a lot of natural sweeteners that are delicious, readily available and actually have health benefits.
5 Healthy Natural Sweeteners
- Raw honey – full of antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin. Together these neutralize damaging free radicals and promote the growth of healthy bacteria
- Stevia – available as liquid extract, powder, and dissolvable tablets. It has been used in South America to support healthy blood sugar levels and weight loss. Stevia has 0 calories, 0 carbohydrates but NONE of the side effects of artificial sweeteners
- Dates – loaded with potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and vitamin B6. Easily digestible, help metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
- Coconut sugar – Low glycemic and full of polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, and antioxidants. (I love to use coconut sugar when baking in place of regular brown or white sugar).
- Maple Syrup – a great source for manganese, calcium, potassium, zinc and antioxidants. Also helps neutralize free radicals and doesn’t give you the blood sugar “drop” you experience from other sweeteners.
It can seem overwhelming when learning how to replace unhealthy sweeteners with healthy ones, but it’s actually pretty simple!
There is a healthy whole food alternative for almost any artificial ingredient out there.
E-mail directly at [email protected]
Leah Canale is Evolve Medical Clinics full time Health & Wellness Consultant. Members are invited to use her services at no additional charge for the first 30 days.
If you are interested in learning more about eliminating sugar cravings or have any other questions, the folks at Evolve are happy to see you. Evolve Medical is located in Annapolis. You can schedule online or call/text 844-322-4222.
Evolve Medical Clinics is the Highest Rated Primary Care and Urgent Care serving Annapolis, Edgewater, Davidsonville, Crownsville, Millersville, Gambrills, Bowie, Crofton, Arnold, Severna Park, Glen Burnie and Pasadena.