The low down on sweeteners

Do you like your coffee with some sweetness? I personally just like to add a splash of almond milk, but I know a lot of people like adding a bit of sugar or a substitute in theirs. It can be quite confusing to know which sweetener is best for a healthy lifestyle. So, should you use good ole regular sugar or is there a different sweetener you should use? I’m going to break it down so you will be able to make the better choice for your lifestyle.

Sugar

Sugar occurs naturally in most plants but is highest in sugar cane and sugar beets. These are most abundant in sucrose, which is pure table sugar. These sugary plants are processed to produce a syrup, which is molasses. This liquid evaporates and is further purified to make table sugar. While this is a natural source of sweetness, it is high in calories and can raise your blood sugar.

Sugar is often hidden in many foods which makes it very easy to consume too much on a daily basis. For instance, oatmeal and yogurt can be loaded with sugar. This is why it’s so important to read food labels when choosing what you will be putting in your body. It’s best to choose plain oatmeal and yogurt where you can control the amount of sugar that is added.

Sugar can be disguised in so many ways… Even if you don’t see sugar or sucrose in the ingredient list, look for these other words: maltose, dextrose, glucose, galactose, and fructose. You can also look for words like malt or syrup.

What about artificial sweeteners?

They are manufactured and overly processed sugar substitutes that were created by manipulating different chemicals. They are known as Aspartame, Ace-K, Saccharin, and Sucralose. Otherwise known as Equal, Sweet ‘N Low, and Splenda.

Normally, when you consume sugary foods and drinks, your blood sugar will spike and lead your pancreas to produce insulin to bring the blood sugar down. Too much sugar like drinking a sugary soda instantly will spike your blood sugar way too high and your pancreas has to produce excessive insulin to bring it down. Unfortunately, insulin is also a fat-storing hormone. All of these spikes in blood sugar may cause diabetes and can lead to a weight gain and ultimately obesity.

A lot of research has been done on these sweeteners and is finding that they are so sweet that they are tricking the brain and body to produce insulin unnecessarily that causes increases in body weight and fat. This is pretty astounding. A ton of unhealthy events occurs just from consuming these artificial sweeteners over and over. They have been found to increase your appetite, making you want to eat more than your body really needs. They can affect your brain and your body’s ability to respond to insulin. And they can have an effect on your gut’s healthy bacteria causing you to have a lot of stomach issues.

Aspartame (Equal or NutraSweet)

  • 220 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose).
  • Made in a lab by synthesizing methanol with the amino acids, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine. This is toxic to those born with PKU (Phenylketonuria).
  • Can lead to migraines and increases your risk of leukemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma.

Sucralose (Splenda)

  • Made by adding the chemical chlorine to sugar. We can’t digest the chemical of chlorine, so we can’t digest the sugar.
  • Sweeter than all other sweeteners.
  • Makes you want to eat more sweets and increases your body weight.

Saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low)

  • First artificial sweetener on the market.
  • Made by the oxidation of o-toluene sulfonamide, as well as from phthalic anhydride.
  • Provides an aftertaste and can’t be used for baking or cooking.
  • Shouldn’t be used if pregnant. I wouldn’t suggest anyone using it…

Acesulfame Potassium (Ace K)

  • This is used in a lot of foods and you may not even know it. It is combined with aspartame and sucralose to help reduce their aftertaste. You will typically find it in diet sodas.
  • Contains methylene chloride which has been linked to cancer.
  • Can also contribute to headaches, depression, nausea, confusion, and liver issues.

Stevia

  • Plant-based, so it’s natural.
  • Has been shown to have health benefits. Has been used for many years to treat burns and decrease stomach pains.
  • Doesn’t contain calories so it won’t spike your blood sugar or insulin levels like other sweeteners.
  • I definitely recommend this sweetener over all others.

Bottom Line

When choosing what to put in your body, be mindful, and read those labels! Choose items that don’t contain artificial sweeteners that are harmful to your body. Try and choose plain items that you can sweeten on your own so you can control the amount of sugar you are putting in your body. If you absolutely need to sweeten something like that morning coffee, go with Stevia since it’s a healthier option by far.

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