I'm an Addict!
I'm an addict
I'm a 31 year old Red blooded male. It's late at night, the wife and kids are in bed. I open up my laptop and what's the first thing that springs to mind? That's right........Sugar!
What? You were thinking of something else???
We're all addicted. They say sugar lights up the brain more than cocaine. You've probably heard it. BBC's Panorama did a good piece on it a year ago or so and there is also a great video on YouTube called Sugar: The Bitter Truth.
Today I want to take it a step further. I want to talk about something just as addictive but more harmful. Today is about artificial sweeteners.
Artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are alternatives to sugar. Some are natural (but don't necessarily mean they're good for you) other are manmade (how could they be good for you?).
Why do they substitute sugar? Pure and simple. Artificial Sweeteners are cheaper and more addictive. So it is not going to cost as much to make a product and you’re going to buy even more of it.
So what exactly is it I'm talking about? Here are the top artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes:
- Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K)
Acesulfame potassium, also known as acesulfame K, is a calorie-free sweetener up to 200 times sweeter than sugar and as sweet as aspartame.
It is often blended with sucralose and used to decrease the bitter aftertaste of aspartame. A wide range of low-calorie foods and drinks contain acesulfame K, including table top sweeteners, chewing gum, jam, dairy products, frozen desserts, drinks and baked goods.
Acesulfame K is not broken down when digested, nor is it stored in the body. After being consumed, it is quickly absorbed by the body and then rapidly excreted, unchanged.
Acesulfame K has been approved for general use in the EU and the US. Critics say the sweetener has not been studied adequately and may be carcinogenic, affect pregnancy and cause tumours
One of the most studied artificial sweeteners, aspartame has been accused of causing everything from weight gain to cancer.
It’s a low-calorie sugar substitute. It is a combination of 2 amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. It is about 220 times sweeter than sugar and leaves no aftertaste when consumed. It is also known by the brand names Equal and NutraSweet.
It gets a bad rap with claims of it causes everything from headaches, seizures, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, lupus or multiple sclerosis. There is no scientific backing for any of these claims but there have been studies to showing it to be a carcinogenic in animals.
Neotame is 13,000 times sweeter than table sugar, and about 30 times sweeter than aspartame.
It’s based on the aspartame formula—despite the fact that 80% of all FDA complaints pertain to adverse reactions from aspartame.
Neotame is aspartame plus 3-di-methylbutyl, which can be found on the EPA’s list of most hazardous chemicals. The aspartame formula is comprised of Phenylalanine [50%], which caused seizures in lab animals and Aspartic Acid [40%], which caused “holes in the brains” of lab animals — bonded by Methyl Alcohol, or Methanol [10%] which is capable of causing blindness, liver damage and death.
In the EU it is seen on food labels as E961.
Rebiana is the main ingredient in Truvia. Truvia is called a novel sweetener by the FDA because it's a combination of two different types of sweeteners: rebiana and erythritol.
The FDA has not emphatically declared the compound safe. What they have done is indicate that it does not appear to be unsafe. This does not represent a glowing endorsement. What the FDA does recommend is when used as a sweetener, it should be used in reasonable amounts, and those who consume it should note any particular side effects they may experience.
Saccharin is an artificial sweetener with effectively no food energy which is approximately 300 times as sweet as sucrose or table sugar, but has a bitter or metallic aftertaste.
In the US Rat studies in the early 1970s found a link between consuming Saccharin and bladder cancer, prompting Congress to mandate in 1981 that all foods containing it bear a warning label. You can still consume it but you’re being warned on the packet.
That little yellow packet may not be so innocent. Sucralose—the no-calorie sugar substitute most commonly known by the brand name Splenda—has been found to cause a variety of harmful biological effects in the body, according to a new research review published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health.
Early research said that sucralose passes through your GI tract undigested, so the theory was that it had little to no effect on you. But new studies show that sucralose is actually metabolized, says study co-author Susan S. Schiffman, PhD and can cause a slew of problems, including:
- Reduces good gut bacteria
- Makes meds less effective
- Releases toxins
- May alter your body's responses
- Agave Nectar
The nectar is a product of the agave cactus, and its taste and texture are similar to honey.
It doesn’t contain as many antioxidants as honey, but it contains approximately the same amount of calories. Agave, however, is sweeter than sugar, so proponents suggest you can use less to get similar sweetness.
It contains more fructose than table sugar, which, according to a recent study, means it is less likely to cause a spike in blood sugar but could be more likely to reduce your metabolism and insulin sensitivity.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
This hotly debated sweetener contains the sugars fructose and glucose from processed corn syrup.
Because it's cheaper than sucrose and gives products a longer shelf life, more packaged foods in the U.S.—especially soda, cereal, and yogurt—contain HFCS as added sugar instead of sucrose.
Some studies say beverages sweetened with HFCS contribute to obesity more than sucrose.
Honey contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, and studies suggest it may not raise blood sugar as fast as other sweet products.
(It’s generally better for the body to have a slow and steady rise in blood sugar after eating, rather than a dramatic spike.)
Honey, however, does contain calories and should be used as sparingly as any other full-calorie sweetener.
- Sucrose (Table Sugar)
Sucrose offers energy but no nutritional benefits. In 2003, a team of international experts recommended that added sugars make up no more than 10% of your diet, or about 12 teaspoons (50 grams) for a 2,000-calorie diet.
But in 2009 the American Heart Association slashed that even further suggested women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar and men no more than 9 (37.5 grams).
We also have some new kids on the block known as sugar alcohols. These include Sorbitol, Xylitol, and Mannitol. They are generally less sweet and caloric than sugar and don't cause tooth decay like table sugar. These are from natural sources but as yet there is little to say just how bad they are.
Remember all the above are either calorie free or low nutrient dense. So what does that mean? Well the only good thing about sugar is energy and only when used correctly. There is no other purpose to consume it. The sweetness is the addiction. So the list above provides little to mostly no energy but definitely hit the sweetness (addiction) scale.
At Access Fitness Dublin we promote health and part of that is to reduce the stress put on the body by food stressors. Read the list above again. Look at all the potential dangers to your health. What's the point? If your answer is 'Cause it tastes so good' then it's about accountability. Go ahead, consume it knowing that you’re putting your own health in jeopardy.
If you’re reading this and your overweight, have diabetes, suffer with mood swings, low energy or generally just don't feel good then save your breath. You've no argument. Take this out of your diet and hopefully it will contribute to rectifying one or two of your problems.
Until next week,
Love and Happiness,