Sugar is sweet poison, and it’s finally getting the negative publicity it deserves. But is Truvia or Sweet’N Low a good alternative? And are the “healthy” sweeteners like xylitol and stevia really safe? What should you be looking for in a better sweetener? Any what the hell is sucanat? Let me explain…
I recently watched the documentary That Sugar Film, which was bloody brilliant (highly recommend checking it out yourself!). It engagingly illustrated the point that the wellness community has been trying to make for a long time: sugar is sweet poison.
In the doco, Damon decides to do an experiment: go from his healthy diet to a diet high in sugar, but equal to the intake of your average Aussie – 40 teaspoons a day! He didn’t even need to go near Coke, candy or chocolate to get to that amount, he ate perceived “healthy” foods like high fibre breakfast cereals, low-fat yogurt, pre-made sauces and fruit juices.
Fructose makes you fat, not fat
The results were astounding, besides his immense weight gain, he also developed fatty liver disease in just 60 days. Needless to say, it really got me thinking about sugar.
“Sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine. And what’s interesting is that while cocaine and heroin activate only one spot for pleasure in the brain, sugar lights up the brain like a pinball machine.” Mark Hyman, MD
Besides actually robbing your body of nutrients, sugar suppresses the immune system, gives you crazy mood swings, contributes to cancer and diabetes, rots your teeth, stresses your nervous system and adrenals and makes you gain weight.
And sadly, it’s in EVERYTHING!
The sweet stuff is found in everything from sushi to soup – and it’s in 80% of processed and packaged foods.
I’m talking about the processed sugars like white, brown or raw sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as well as the even more dangerous artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet and Sweet’N Low.
But lucky for us, there are plenty of healthy sugar alternatives, which I’ll be diving into in the next few days. It’s important not to be tricked into the marketing gimmicks of so-called “healthy” sweeteners like xylitol and turbinado – the truth about some of these might just surprise you.
Let’s start by talking about the most dangerous sugars around that should be avoided like the plague!
// Highly processed and refined sugars
Including white, brown and raw sugar – basically any of the sugars that you find in the supermarket baking isle, and the sugars most commonly used in bakery goods.
// High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
HFCS is made by changing the sugar in corn starch to fructose. It’s cheap to make (corn is subsidised by USDA) and sweeter than sugar. It also extends the shelf life of foods, so you can see why it’s loved by food manufacturers.
You’ll find HFCS (sometimes disguised as “crystalline fructose”) in everything and anything in packaging on a supermarket shelf, from cereal, soda, salad dressing, ketchup, and most other processed foods. You’d be surprised what you find it in.
HFCS is the leading ingredient after carbonated water in soda. According to the Mayo Clinic, women who drink at least on regular soda a day are 85% more likely to develop type two diabetes than those who drink less.
HFCS also leads to tooth decay. Pop a tooth in a glass of soda and watch as it disappears (dissolves).
// Artificial Sweeteners
The world has been conned by the lie that these “zero calorie” sweeteners are a safe and good alternative to sugar and help with weight loss. Ironically, it’s just the opposite!
Aspartame stimulates the release of insulin and lepin, the hormones which tell your body to store fat. It can reduce your serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that tells you when you’re full. Low serotonin can also give you food cravings – all leading to weight gain. (1)
The name says it all: they’re artificial, synthetic, chemical experiments made in a lab, and FAR worse than any other sugar here. Our bodies do not recognise things that are made in a lab, it doesn’t know what to do with them.
Avoid all of the artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Truvia, and Sweet’N Low and especially aspartame (in Diet Coke), whose brand names go by Equal and NutraSweet, like the plague.
Common symptoms of aspartame include severe headaches, diarrhoea, rashes, extreme fatigue, memory loss, depression, change in personality and convulsions. (2) A bit of a far cry from the ads for diet coke on the telly in a bikini having the time of your life!
If you’re having trouble quitting artificial sweeteners and want more information, read this.
The key with getting our health back on track is to eat foods that are closest to their natural state as possible.
Tomorrow, we’ll cover sweeteners the health guru’s love that aren’t healthy at all, then I’ll share my favourite healthy alternatives!
Check out other posts in the series:
// Sweet Substitutes, Part 2: 5 Surprising Sweeteners People Think Are Healthy But Aren’t
// Sweet Substitutes, Part 3: What are Sucanat, Rapadura and Turbinado? Unrefined Cane Sugars Explained.
// Sweet Substitutes, Part 4: 10 Sweet Substitutes That Are Actually Healthy Alternatives
(1) Artificial Sweeteners — More Dangerous Than You Ever Imagined Dr. Mercola
(2) Longevity Now, David Wolfe