OK...gonna be honest with y’all. This blog writing thing is still pretty new to me and it’s more time consuming than I’d like to admit. Why am I telling you this? Because at the beginning of the month I planned to write four different blogs about sugar and here I am on the last day of the month writing the third one. All I can say is, I appreciate the grace my followers continue to give me throughout this crazy journey I am on! Thank you for being understanding and supportive even when I get behind schedule and don’t get the intended content to y’all as soon as I had originally planned. That being said...let’s get back to SUGAR!!!
Sugar...before we talk about all of the names that sugar has (the 4th and final blog of the “sugar” series), I want to tackle artificial sweeteners. This one is SUPER DUPER IMPORTANT for you to understand because they are hidden in everything! Let’s start with a list of artificial sweeteners.
Saccharin (Sweet’n Low)
Aspartame (NutraSweet or Equal)
I will briefly talk about the worst artificial sweeteners in my own opinion and tell you why I try my best to avoid them at all cost: sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame-K and saccharin. I will speak generically about them but encourage you to do your own research from reliable resources too. (Remember, ANYONE can create a website that looks and sounds legit, but there are a lot of terrible sites out there pumping you full of misinformation!)
Let’s start with sucralose only because I used to be a “Splendaholic”! I would put so much of it in my coffee and other foods that I wanted to sweeten up “without the guilt” that I would go through a big bag of the baking Splenda faster than I’d like to admit. Despite over a decade of education in medicine, I didn’t know better because I wasn’t taught anything about nutrition in medical school. I learned the same crap a majority of the public learns from which was health & fitness magazines or “bro science” from meatheads at the gym. I came to believe that anything “low fat,” “low sugar,” or “low carb” was 100% better for you every time. WRONG!! What I didn’t know is that those catchy phrases on food labels are what food companies use to sell products. These labels usually mean they are full of ingredients that are not natural, have the likely outcome of disrupting your gut biome, interfering with your body’s hormonal balance and could even cause cancer. SUCRALOSE gets me because it is the artificial sweetener used in a majority of “health foods” found at “health & nutrition” stores, online and in direct sales products. Sucralose has been approved by the FDA since the 90s and categorized as safe but new research is putting that into question. There are rat studies that suggest it disrupts your gut bacteria. It also has metabolites that are stored in fat cells which we are unsure of what those actually do. On top of that, cooking with sucralose produces carcinogens (cancer causing agents). Those points alone make me steer clear of sucralose.
Next up we have aspartame which actually angers me when I think about this chemical. Look...this is a chemical that has been studied a lot and there is still no solid evidence this chemical, for sure, causes cancer. I’ll just say this though...there is too much evidence that gives me personally a huge shadow of doubt that this UNNATURAL chemical is safe to consume, so I choose not to put it in my body. It is found EVERYWHERE from diet sodas to chewing gum hence the reason why you should READ THE INGREDIENTS!!!
Acesulfame-K is one that most can’t even pronounce but it, along with saccharin, are kind of like aspartame in the realm of “it may or may not cause cancer” topic. You could get lost in the black hole of the internet reading all of the literature on this topic but at the end of the day I feel like the artificial sweeteners, that are chemicals made in a lab, just can’t be what Mother Nature intended for our bodies to ingest. I also want to mention that these artificial sweeteners also set you up for craving MORE sweet food and beverages, set you up for increased risk of developing diabetes and increase the likelihood of weight gain too? Yup. You read it right. You’re probably saying ”Wait...so what you’re telling me is that one of the main reasons that people buy low fat or low sugar food is to help LOSE WEIGHT but it is actually doing the opposite?” Yup...that is exactly what I am telling you. At the end of the day, neither you or I will probably ever know if these artificial sweeteners are as bad I think they may be but I don’t want to be on the receiving end of badness if they do cause cancer, leaky gut, diabetes, weight gain, food cravings or hormonal disruption.
So, what is the best sweetening ingredient to use if you don’t want to spike your insulin using one of the many forms of sugar, that we will talk about in the next blog? In my opinion, the best sweeteners are natural ones extracted from plants that grow on the earth. These are Stevia (stevia leaf extract), Luo Han Guo (monk fruit extract), Xylitol (from hardwood not corn) or Erythritol. All of these don’t spike your insulin which is at the root of a lot of people’s weight gain issues and none of them are chemicals made in a lab. I’m not sure if you can officially call these “artificial sweeteners” because they aren’t real sugar but they aren’t artificial (at least in my mind) because of where they come from. Hence, the other reason I’m only mentioning them instead of going in depth about them.
So...if you only take away ONE THING from this blog post about artificial sweeteners, it is this...READ THE INGREDIENTS!!! If you see one of them listed on the ingredients, I would just put it down and walk away! Even if none of them actually cause cancer, knowing that they can disrupt the gut bacteria (sucralose mainly) or cause an increase likelihood of weight gain, diabetes and/or cravings...HELLO?!?! Isn’t that reason enough to avoid them?! If this has been helpful to you, please leave a comment below, share it with a loved one or even on your social media. Thanks again for reading and the last blog of the SUGAR series we will wrap it up so that you can walk away feeling empowered with your new found knowledge of SUGAR!! Ciao for now!!