There is a health risk that has flown under the radar for so long it has become an accepted staple in our culinary/dining lives, specifically for those who are trying to loose weight. Yes, that would be sugar substitutes.
Even in a group of health conscious people I’ve noticed otherwise health savvy individuals reaching for packets of Sweet and Low, Equal or Splenda. These products are marketed saying that the average person (American) consumes approximately 100 to 150 pounds of sugar per year. When you compare calorie to calorie it seems like a no brainer that the sugar substitutes would cut your calories significantly and weight loss is inevitable. If that is true then how has our weight as a nation has skyrocketed during the same timeline that artificial sweeteners hit the market?
I’ll start out by stating there are many reasons other that sugar substitutes that cause this, but today we will weigh (pun intended) the health risks against the calorie benefits. Let’s start with saccharin.
Saccharin (Sweet and Low, Sweet ‘N Low, Sweet Twin, Necta Sweet) is a known carcinogen derived from coal tar. Enough said?
Aspartame (Equal, Nutra-Sweet, Spoonful, Equal Measure) is a product of Monsanto; it is the most consumed artificial sweetener in America. It is composed of 40% aspartic acid (an excitotoxin that damages the brain), 50% phenylalanine and 10% methanol (wood alcohol). The methanol is converted to formaldehyde in your digestive tract. The health risks such as migraines, seizures, depression, increased weight, breast cancer and brain tumors have been well documented. Aspartame is responsible for 75% of adverse food additive reactions reported the FDA. The only reason it is on the market today is through clever political maneuvering. This part of the story alone could be made into a movie.
Sucralose (Splenda) this product’s claim to fame is that it tastes like sugar because it’s made from sugar. Close but no cigar! What they’re not telling you is that sucralose, is a chlorinated sucrose derivative, very similar to that which is in chlorinated pesticides. Sucralose increases weight gain through appetite stimulation and carbohydrate cravings. It is linked to sleep pattern disruption, cancer, and multiple sclerosis. According to a Duke University study, Splenda “suppresses beneficial bacteria in the gut. So if you are eating Splenda while attempting to bring your intestinal flora back into balance with probiotics, you might just as well dump your pricey probiotics down the drain. What’s more, sucralose causes the thymus gland that aids production of T-cells for your immune system to shrink up to 40% causing damage to the liver and kidneys. More info on Splenda or The Truth About Spenda
Stevia Now for the good stuff! There is an herb called stevia that can be used as a sugar substitute with considerable safety. I prefer the liquid extract forms of this herb, as it is the purist way to eat it aside from using the fresh plant. Extract made from the leaves of the Stevia plant is undoubtedly the safest sweetener on the market. Unlike aspartame and other artificial sweeteners that have been cited for dangerous toxicities, regular Stevia is a safe, natural alternative that’s ideal if you’re watching your weight, or if you’re maintaining your health by avoiding sugar.
If you are choosing stevia in the dried packed form, look for those that don’t contain Erythritol, which is a genetically modified corn product that can cause intestinal difficulties. It would seem that no matter how good a basic ingredient is, once a major food manufacturer processes it, you can be certain they’ll find a way to adulterate it. Truvia is a product of the Coka Cola company and Pure Via is made by Pepsi. That’s all I’ll say about that.
The stevia plant (for all you “do it yourselfers”) can be purchased as Stevia or Sweet Leaf. The leaves are delicious fresh from the plant; the flavor is reminiscent of Juicy Fruit gum. The plant is a perennial in mild climates but in intemperate climates it must be planted annually. You can cut the plant at the end of the season and process it in a blender with vodka. Pack the plant in the blender firmly and use just enough vodka to cover it. Process it until smooth, strain and store in a dropper bottle or squeeze bottle. The liquid will turn a dark color; that is normal. Or if you prefer, you can dry the leaves and blend in a food processor until it is a fine powder and store in an airtight container.
Eating food closest to its original state is one of the best ways to maintain health.
“Eating crappy food isn’t a reward — it’s a punishment.”― Drew Carey
This incredible article brought to you by:
Lori Jacobs, The Healing path
Herbalist – Energy Healer
Brodheadsville, PA 18322
And look for my podcast with Lori coming out in November!