It’s time to really learn the truth about artificial sweeteners
Cocaine was flowing the clubs in the 70s & 80s in discos like Studio 54. The 90s were all about sugar and fast food. Now, we are facing a “healthy” era of artificial sweeteners in restaurants and even our own homes.
Believe it or not, artificial sweetener was discovered by accident. Researcher Constantine Fahlberg discovered the sweetener Saccharin after he forgot to wash his hands before lunch in 1879. He had chemicals on his hands, which transferred to his food, making his lunch taste unusual sweet.
Artificial sweetener is a lower calorie alternative to sugar and has been used in several ways, from food and beverage, toothpaste, and even chewing gum, just to mention a few. We do not live in a perfect world. Low calorie comes with consequences that we are not thinking of. Studies are still at an early stage and it’s hard to say what the long-term effects might be, but we have seen some shocking side-effects of the so called “natural sweeteners”.
How does your body process sugar?
When you consume sweet food, your brain is sending out a reaction to your body that sugar (glucose) is incoming so the pancreas produces insulin to help move the glucose from the blood to the cells. Here the liver produces glycogen and the unused glucose is stored as fats.
Pretty simple, right?
What about artificial sweeteners though?
The main reaction your body has is that it tricks it into thinking you are consuming sugar, driving your system to create insulin and transport it through the body. But reality is there is no sugar to be attached to the insulin. This can cause low blood sugar levels, which then can result in sugar and carbs cravings.
As mentioned earlier, scientific studies on the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners are still in the early stages. However, there have been some results to the effect of gut bacteria when consuming artificial sweeteners.
This is to support normal blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels. Research has shown that after ingesting artificial sweeteners, the gut starts to increase the tolerance to glucose. This specific gut bacteria have been linked to obesity in humans before.
So if I should avoid ingesting sugar or artificial sweeteners, what can I put in my body with good conscious?
Don’t panic! There are actually natural options out there for your sweet tooth. These options have not gone through a heavy chemical process or made in a lab, and can replace sugar in many occasions.
Agave Syrup comes from the blue agave plant in Mexico. This is the same plant that is used to make tequila! It has low glycemic index and is diabetic friendly. A lot of articles have claimed agave syrup has a higher fructose content and is under a chemically intensive process. Though this might be true for a small fraction of the companies out there, many others only use hot water to extract the juice from the plant, making it free of all pesticides.
Xylitol has a similar sweetness taste like sugar and two thirds of the calorie intake. But if it has calories and similar sweetness to sugar, why should we use it? As a matter of fact, Xylitol has actually shown properties of dental health benefits when it comes to reducing risk of cavity and dental decay.
Disclaimer: Xylitol is highly toxic for dogs, so store it in a safe place!
Monk Fruit, or luo han guo as it is also called, is a small fruit grown in Southeast Asia. The unique thing about this monk fruit is that it doesn’t get its sweet taste from its fructose or glucose, but from its antioxidants called mogrosides. This fruit has been in the market for a long time, but just recently gained popularity as a sweetener and still needs more research.
Does this mean I should just replace all my sugary intake with these natural sweeteners?