Sugar substitutes have been poplar for decades now, understandably as sugar is one of the worst things to consume in large quantities. In fact the sugar substitute market was estimated to be worth $10.5 billion in 2012. And the market may be growing. Just 18 percent of U.S. adults used low- or no-calorie sweeteners in 2000. Now, 24 percent of adults and 12 percent of children use the sugar substitutes, according to a 2012 review in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.7 But just because it is a sugar substitute doesn’t mean that it is automatically better for you. In fact artificial sweeteners have been linked o the following conditions cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s. The most important thing to learn first is that there are no “good” artificial sweeteners. True, some may be worse than others, but they all have varying degrees of negative effects on your body. Not all sugar substitutes are created equal, in fact some are far worse for you than real sugar! Let’s take a look at the downsides of artificial sugars and what alternatives you can actually use.
Aspartame- Aspartame is probably the worst of the artificial sweeteners. Aspartame is a synthetic chemical composed of three ingredients – two amino acids and a methyl ester bond. The amino acids are phenylalanine and aspartic acid. These two components are usually safe on their own, but the ratio at which they are present in aspartame is completely unnatural and produces a neurotoxin. Furthermore, aspartame converts to formaldehyde in the body. “Aspartame ingestion results in the production of methanol, formaldehyde and formate. In the gastrointestinal tract aspartame is hydrolyzed to one of its component materials, methanol, as well as the two amino acids, phenylalanine and aspartic acid. This methanol is taken up by the cells of the body and metabolized first to formaldehyde and then to formate.”(2) While the levels of ingestion are modest with any given drink, repeatedly consuming aspartame will obviously result in more formaldehyde in the body.
Sucralose- Sucralose is another synthetic chemical. This one however requires three chlorine molecules are added to one sucrose (sugar) molecule. Your body does not have the ability to break down chloride. While most of it passes right through you, up to 15 percent is absorbed. There have been no real long term studies done on the effects of sucralose on humans, however the animal studies found several issues including: Increased male infertility, enlarged and calcified kidneys, decreased red blood cells. Obviously those results should give anyone reason to think twice before reaching for sucralose.
Those are the two big artificial sweeteners, and as you can see the negative side effects far outweigh any positives they may offer. So what options do you have? As far as natural sugars go honey is the number one choice. Provided its the right kind of honey. Natural honey is full of antioxidants, enzymes, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. Which all sounds amazing, however most honey we eat today (like everything else!) is highly processed and those beneficial things are reduced or completely eliminated. Manuka honey is what you want to look for. Manuka honey has more potent antibacterial properties than regular honey. It even has it’s own scale for rating it’s antibacterial strength, UMF which stands for Unique Manuka Factor. Any UMF 10 or higher is considered a therapeutic level of potency.
So next time you think about reaching for the artificial sweetener for your coffee or tea, or grabbing a diet soft drink, think about your health. Replace that artificial sweetener with some natural honey, or some L-glycine powder. The smallest of amino acids with a delicious sugary flavor. (both of which go great with tea, if not coffee!). And skip the soft drink altogether and drink some water, your body will thank you!
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