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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Sweet Substitute May Not be so Sweet After All


Hey everyone! I hope you are all doing well today!! Can you believe we are already almost half way through this year? Craziness! It's almost time to start looking for Christmas gifts again...sigh...

Anyway, so yesterday we discussed the benefits and disadvantages of sugar and I promised that today we would be discussing sugar substitutions. Some of you may wonder why anyone would want a substitution, but for those with diabetes, high LDL, high blood sugar levels, wanting to eat clean, wanting to reduce plaque on teeth, wanting to lose weight, etc., sugar substitutes seem to provide more leeway than regular sugar. They can be more dangerous for your health, however, if you choose the wrong ones or use too much of them. Let's do a quick breakdown of these sugar substitutes and the ingredients in them, shall we?

First of all, it's important to note that there are organic sugar substitutes and then there are man-made sugar substitutes. Guess which one is better for you? :) I know, I know...organic stuff is more expensive...but like I always say, spend more on your health now and save the money later when you aren't riddled with disease and can enjoy your retirement. :) Besides, I'm going to let you in on some money saving secrets for organic purchases soon.

Moving on...

Man-made sugar substitutes are generally created by chemically combining ingredients. Those ingredients may have already been chemically altered themselves, leading to dangerous outcomes for the consumer. The following information explains four different types of man-made sweeteners and discusses why they are beneficial or detrimental to your health:

Sweet N'Low

Sweet N'Low (otherwise known as saccharin) has been around for over 130 years. It was heavily used during the first World War due to a sugar shortage and now days it is used for a low-calorie substitution to sugar. Sweet N'Low was once considered a contributor to cancer (and was labeled as such on the packaging), however, those labels have been removed recently and the FDA has approved it as a safe sugar substitution...although their definition of safe and mine seem to be very different. I don't feel comfortable putting something known for bladder cancer into my body, no matter how much it would take to actually get to that point (they say it only occurs with high doses of saccharin). Sweet N'low also contains dextrose (a carbohydrate found in broken down corn - similar to corn syrup), cream of tartar (used as a thickening agent in baked goods or cleaning additive to household cleaners...hmmm...interesting - developed through the crystallization process of wine), and calcium silicate (used in concrete, bricks, insulation, an alternative to asbestos, table salt, oh...and the sugar you just added to your coffee...Mmm Mmm good huh?).


Equal

Equal's main ingredient is aspartame or acesulfame potassium. Aspartame is created through the chemical combining of three items: phenylalanine (known for decreasing serotonin levels and pooling in certain areas of the brain leading to decreased functioning...this is said to be even more dangerous for children, as their brains are developing quickly and using everything eaten as fuel for that development...if they are ingesting chemicals which decrease the function of the brain, they are essentially eating their own way to slower brain functioning later in life); aspartic acid (known as a toxin which causes neurons in the brain to be over-stimulated until they cease to function leading to chemical imbalances in the brain and the body; methanol (turned into formaldehyde by the body as it is digested...formaldehyde...you know...like the stuff they embalm the dead with? It is known for increasing cancer risks, altering DNA, and causing birth defects according to this web site). Sounds great huh? Did you know the average can of soda or juice containing aspartame actually causes the consumer to ingest more than 4 times the recommended limit per day of it?

Splenda

Splenda is one of the most popular zero-calorie-sweeteners, however, since it is created through combining dextrose, resistant maltodextrin (i.e. starch), and it's main ingredient - sucralose (chlorinated sugar), (all calorie-laden ingredients), it does contain calories. The way that marketing companies get away with selling it as a zero-calorie-sweetener is due to the fact that dextrose, resistant maltodextrin, and sucralose are not able to be broken down by the body, thus, they are considered waste by the brain and the body removes as much of them as it can. Click here to see the dangers of sucralose. (I'll tell you now that the link will inform you of shrunken thyroid issues caused by ingestion of sucralose...I know..I'm an ending spoiler!).

Stevia

Stevia is made by highly refining the stevia plant, which is a bush that originally grew naturally in South America, but now grows wherever it is cultivated. Although it has been approved by the FDA for consumption and labeled with (GRAS, generally recognized as safe), some still consider it dangerous as it is a processed sugar substitute refined in a factory with added flavors and sugar alcohol. Stevioside (stevia extract) has been said to cause an increased risk of cancer, an imbalanced metabolism, lowering sperm count, and lowering the ability to conceive or give birth to babies with healthy weights. Click here for warnings about Stevia/Stevioside. Stevia is still considered by most to be the best man-made sugar substitute (as there has not been enough medical information gathered to prove the risks above as confirmed risks), however, it is important to keep in mind that there are organic alternatives to these sugar alternatives that could be better for you without the added worries.

Click here for an awesome link that goes even more into detail about sugar substitutes and sugar alcohols. OR here.



So, what are some organic sugar substitutions that won't give you the added side effects of the man-made sugar substitutes? Try adding some of these to your homemade baked goods, coffee, tea, etc. next time instead of reaching for that sugar substitute packet:

  • Agave nectar
  • Applesauce
  • Honey
  • Erythritol (a FDA approved sugar alcohol)
  • Sucanat (sugar cane)
  • Pureed fruit
  • Vanilla Almond Milk (unsweetened)
  • Rice Milk
  • Balsamic Vinaigrette (organic and 100% natural fruit or cocoa flavors are great in homemade baked goods or even just drizzled on top of frozen yogurt/ice cream)

Click here for the most incredible link to an awesome list of 30 organic sugar substitutions!!! 

As with anything else in the kitchen, all sugar substitutions are best used in moderation. Organic sugar substitutes can contain high amounts of calories (so check the label!) and can have their own side-effects on the body, however, organic food is a better choice than chemically-altered man-made alternatives (a.k.a. junk!!!).

Keep it clean people!

Have a great night (or day...depending on your side of the world!) :)
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*Disclaimer: All of the information provided here is the opinion of the author after thorough research of medical surveys, medical reports, and medical/government web site information. It has not been reviewed by a medical professional and results cannot be guaranteed by the author. Consult with your doctor before planning any diet or fitness changes.

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