Do love cookies, cake, sugar in your tea? You are not alone! The average American eats about 156 pounds of sugareach year. If you have been trying to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, beware of their potential side effects.
(Note to Readers: Also be sure to check out our recent related article, Honey, Sugar, Molasses, Agave, Stevia & Other Natural Sweeteners: Which Are Actually Good for You?)
Sugar. It's a part of our culture, our traditions, and our lives.
From our earliest days, we often associate sweet things with nurturing and love.
Sweet treats have become a nearly unavoidable part of holidays and birthdays, but did you know that some form of sugar is in just about every processed food on the market? Even so called "healthy" foods can be laden with ingredients to sweeten it up.
You may be surprised to learn that the average American consumes about 156 pounds of sugar each year on a per capita basis, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)!2
Because Americans consume so much sugar, we've seen a rise in diabetes, hyperactivity, and obesity. As a result, many people are now turning to artificial sweeteners for a calorie-free sweet fix.
But artificial sweeteners are NOT a healthy alternative to sugar.
Read on to discover the best and the worst artificial and natural sweeteners on the market today and to learn about some healthy alternatives!
Aspartame contributes to neurotoxicity and causes headaches, seizures, mood disorders.2 Some studies even link aspartame to cancer!
Manufacturers use aspartame in a variety of products, including the artificial sweetener Equal.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a less expensive sweetener4 than sugar and has serious health implications.It's present in most of the processed food available at your local supermarket and even finds its way into products that are not "sweet!"
HFCS is made up mostly of fructose, a kind of sugar that must be metabolized in your liver.
But your liver cannot handle all the fructose that many people ingest, so doctors are seeing more and more patients with fatty liver disease, a condition similar to the liver toxicity of alcoholics, except that it comes from too much high fructose corn syrup and other lifestyle choices.
Learn more about Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and how to prevent it.
Sugar (or sucrose)
All sucrose (including cane sugar, raw sugar, sucanat, and brown sugar) causes your blood sugar to spike and when eaten in excess can increase your risk for diabetes.
Sugar also triggers a cyclical dependence on its quick-fix energy, resulting in a short term "sugar high" that is always followed by a "sugar low."
High sugar intake has been linked to:5
For more on the dangers of sugar, read: The 25 Key Reasons You Want to Dramatically Reduce or Avoid Sugar in Your Diet.
Besides having an unpleasantly bitter and metallic aftertaste, saccharin has been shown to be carcinogenic and may cause bladder cancer.
Saccharin is in diet drinks like Tab, some toothpastes, and Sweet n Low.
Honey is sweeter than sugar and is 100% glucose and fructose. It has more calories and even raises your blood sugar more than white sugar.
Some research reports that raw honey has enzymes and small amounts of minerals, which lead some health food enthusiasts to feel that honey is a better choice than sugar. While it is more natural and less processed than white sugar, honey does feed the systemic yeast infection, candida.7
Marketed as a "healthy" artificial sweetener, Splenda can cause skin rashes/flushing, panic-like agitation, dizziness and numbness, diarrhea, muscle aches, headaches, intestinal cramping, bladder issues, and stomach pain.8
Splenda has also been shown to shrink the thymus glands and enlarge the livers and kidneys in rodents.
Little long term research has been done on Splenda, so it is unclear what amounts might be safe.
These products impart a sweet taste and are not all bad because they have some nutritional value, but use caution because they act like sugar in your blood stream and if you are battling candida or other immune-related illness, these sweeteners feed candida. At Body Ecology, we would suggest that if you must have these sweeteners, cautiously reintroduce them AFTER you've reestablished an inner ecosystem inside your intestines and cleared up all symptoms of candida. However, there are even better choices (keep reading!).
Molasses contains some minerals, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. It is not as sweet as sugar.
Blackstrap molasses is the least sweet kind you can buy and has more minerals than other varieties.
Maple syrup contains high levels of calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, thiamin. It also has B2, B5, B6, riboflavin, biotinand folic acid, and many amino acids and phenolic compounds.10
Agave is derived from a plant found mainly in Mexico and contains a sweet, sticky juice that is ninety percent fructose.
Until recently blue agave was used only for tequila distilling. Then growers found a way to process agave, and convert it into something called hydrolyzed high fructose inulin syrup.
This chemically processed agave is similar to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sugar with serious health implications.
In fact, some agave distributors have been caught re-labeling HFCS as agave syrup!
It is difficult to tell whether the agave syrup sold on the market is from a toxic variety of agave, which might be used due to the shortage of blue agave, or whether it is the highly processed fructose syrup.
For these reasons, it is best to avoid agave syrup unless you are certain of its source. Our new forthcoming probiotic liquid (read below) uses a highly reputable source of agave syrup, and we can attest that we went through great lengths to make certain of this reputable source. Many companies offering food products won't necessarily go through these lengths, so again, just be cautious.
These sweeteners do not feed candida and do not cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol extracted from the fiber of many fruits and vegetables including corn, raspberries, and plums. Xylitol has the same consistency and sweetness as white sugar, but with 33% fewer calories. It helps remineralize your teeth and prevents cavities.
You can find many natural chewing gums that use xylitol as a sweetener. Our favorite is Xylichew
Stevia is an amazing sweetener that comes in both liquid and powder form. It has zero calories, dissolves in water and is 200 - 300 times sweeter than sugar, so you only need to use a few drops for sweetness.
Body Ecology's liquid Stevia is truly the best because it has all the sweet flavor with none of the bitter aftertaste.
Stevia is an amazing natural sweetener that doesn't raise your blood sugar AND tastes great! Try Stevia in your favorite beverage instead of an artificial sweetener.
Donna Gates spent years introducing stevia to tens of thousands of Americans during the years the FDA banned importation into the US. She knew how vital it was for us (and especially our children) to have a safe, sweet-tasting sugar substitute that did not feed fungal infections or raise blood sugar.
In those earlier days there were no delicious examples of stevia. It was an unpopular herb because of the strong licorice-like aftertaste of the crude green leaf.
Body Ecology began offering stevia in a white powder that was an extract of the two sweet elements in stevia…rebaudioside and stevioside. We encouraged thousands of our customers to contact the FDA and request that stevia be given GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) approval as a sweetener. The FDA received constant phone calls and, two and a half years later when the SunRider Company filed a formal petition, the FDA lifted the ban allowing it to be sold, but only as a dietary supplement.
The job was far from over, however, since American's really had no idea of how to use this new white powder. Donna, knowing that there was a "learning curve" to a sugar substitute that was nothing like sugar developed recipes and co-authored a cookbook with Dr Ray Sahalian called, STEVIA: Cooking with Nature's Calorie-Free Sweetener .
Because stevia is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar, most people found the fluffy white powder difficult to work with, so Body Ecology introduced the first liquid concentrate. This more convenient form of stevia is great for sweetening beverages, probiotic liquids and grain breakfast dishes ...but neither the powder nor the liquid is really that acceptable for baking.
Determined to find a solution and after much research and experimentation, Donna found a natural sweetener that is an all-around star for health and sweetness, including in baking. Body Ecology is thrilled to introduce this healthy natural sweetener to North American markets!
Coming Soon, Exclusively from Body Ecology!
This new natural sweetener we will be unveiling soon comes from Japan and has been used safely and with great success for ten years. It is not only approved but actually recommended by The Japanese Ministry of Health for those who suffer from obesity and diabetes. Over ten thousand hospitals in Japan serve it to their patients
You will find this new natural sweetener is the perfect complement to the Body Ecology system for health and healing and can help you reach your wellness goals, without giving up your sweet tooth! So again - watch the newsletter in coming months for the announcement of this special product!