Faking It With Sugar Substitutes
Artificial sweeteners are not truly a safe alternative, nor are they healthy.
Information provided in part by RealAge.com.
When you're on a diet, the "no-sugar" label on many packaged foods can be tempting. Sometimes no sugar means not sweetened. And sometimes it means the food has been sweetened artificially. As many as 75% of us in the U.S. consume artificial sweeteners. Sugar substitutes are not safe, but are they a healthy choice?
Not if they are causing you to 1) overeat; 2) consume too many empty calories; or 3) neglect nutrients. And that's not considering that we don't yet know the long-term effects of consuming these artificial sweeteners. How can these sweet substances possibly cause unhealthy habits? Read on to find out.
Commercially available sugar substitutes products have been clinically tested and deemed "safe" for consumption for most, but not all, people. They are promoted as being helpful for people on special diets. However, a federal stamp of safety does not indicate that something is your healthiest option, especially when it comes to nutrition. These sugar substitutes can not be safely included in your food and beverage choices. There are may ways these sweeteners are unhealthy.
Aspartame has accumulated toxic effects. Those people who are sensitive to aspartame have reported headache, fatigue, gastrointestinal problems, and more pronounced symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) from normal consumption.
There are other health issues, besides toxicity, if you chose to incorporate these artificial sweeteners into your diet.
You'll have to guard against overeating
Substituting artificial sweeteners for sugar is an easy way to cut back on calories and thus lose weight, right? Not really. Although sugar substitutes may help you maintain your weight after shedding pounds, they generally will not help you lose weight.
Consuming sugar substitutes on a regular basis may cause you to develop an exaggerated craving for sweetness.
In fact, some studies show they may do the opposite. The latest research on sugar substitutes has led some researchers to believe that consuming products that contain artificial sweeteners may actually encourage you to eat more servings than you would if the food or drinks were sweetened with real sugar. Animal studies have revealed behaviors that suggest sugar substitutes may interfere with the body's natural ability to count calories based on a food's sweetness. When this calorie-counting ability is skewed, you may consume excess calories, increasing your overall weight. Since
these artificial sweeteners are viewed by the body as toxins, they are stored in the accumulated body fat, also adding to increased weight gain.
Stevia is a popular natural sweetener extracted from the Stevia rebaudiana plant. This herb has been used in South America for centuries, is about 300 times sweeter than sugar, and is calorie-free. Although it has not been approved as a safe food additive or been classified as a sweetener by the FDA, it is sold as a dietary supplement in some health/natural food stores. It has been approved for use in food in more than a dozen countries, including Japan, Ukraine, and Thailand.
Regardless of the sweetener you choose, you need to be conscious of the total number of calories you consume whenever you eat or drink sweet things.
Artificial sweeteners may make it easy to overdo it because you might think "no sugar" means "low-calorie." However, many artificially sweetened foods still contain fat and calories. If you're trying to lose weight, don't count on simply substituting fake sugar for the real stuff to help you shed pounds. Instead, focus on controlling calorie intake and exercising regularly.
You may need to work harder to get needed nutrients
It's normal to crave sweets. Humans naturally have an appetite for sugary things. However, if the foods you typically reach for are candy and cookies, even if they are sugar-free, you're getting mostly empty calories and few, if any, beneficial nutrients. By filling your menu with sugar-free versions of muffins, ice cream, or desserts, you may still be getting too many calories and not enough vital nutrients.
Rather than seeking out sugar-free versions of your favorite indulgences, try replacing a few of them with whole foods that offer much more than a satisfied sweet tooth. Whole fruits and berries are great examples of naturally sweet treats that also provide many of the vitamins and nutrients your body needs to fight off illness and needless aging.
Plus, with a sweet treat such as blueberries or raspberries you will get a serving of fiber instead of the empty calories that come from many processed, artificially sweetened treats. Fiber-rich fruits can help satiate your hunger and assist with weight loss.
* Sugar-free gelatin
* Diet powered punch
* Sugar-free ice cream
* A bowl strawberries
* Freshly blended whole fruits sweetened with orange or apple juice
* A banana dipped in milk then rolled in crushed nuts and frozen
In a 2003 research study women who ate apples instead of oat fiber cookies showed a significantly greater decrease of blood glucose. There were good changes in serum triacylglycerols and total cholesterol with those who ate fruit. CONCLUSIONS: Intake of fruits may contribute to weight loss. It makes more sense to eat real food from nature than anything artificial if you want to lose weight.
An herbal alternative to sweeteners
Natural alternatives to sugar
Stevia 300x sweeter A sweet herbal extract marketed as a supplement in health/natural food stores
Try using Stevia if you want to add a healthy sweetener to your baked goods or favorite beverage. Read more about Stevia.