Sugar. We all know it’s not good for us and yet…many of us struggle to avoid it. Sugar negatively impacts every facet of good health including your teeth, joints, gut, thyroid, adrenals, skin, liver, weight, sleep, longevity…you get the picture! That’s why artificial sweeteners or sugar substitutes have attracted many health-conscious individuals, fitness enthusiasts, and diabetic patients.
Today I want to explain the difference between artificial sweeteners and healthy sweeteners as well as share my favorites with you.
An artificial sweetener is a food additive that duplicates the taste of sugar. It is about 200 times sweeter than sugar but it usually has fewer calories. With the trend in health and fitness awareness rising, artificial sweeteners have become really popular.
Since artificial sweeteners are commonly placed in “sugar-free” food products, they’re associated with weight loss, dental care, and managing diabetes mellitus and reactive hypoglycemia. However, artificial sweeteners pose health hazards such as brain tumors, bladder cancer, and weight gain in animal studies. There is some evidence that artificial sweeteners have carcinogenic effects in humans as well.
In this newsletter, I’ve compiled three healthy sweeteners that you can choose instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners to support your healing journey. These are better for your teeth, gut, weight, etc.
1. Monk fruit — Also known as lo han guo, monk fruit is a small green melon fruit named after the monks that cultivated it centuries ago. Native to southern China, it is famous in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and has recently gained attention among health-conscious individuals because of its natural sweetness that can replace sugars.
Monk fruit sweetener, an extract derived from the dried monk fruit, is classified by the FDA as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for everyone. Unlike artificial sweeteners, monk fruit has no known side effects. It is completely natural but with a mild taste. The only downside is that it is expensive, and to make it affordable, it is often mixed with other sweeteners like stevia, erythritol or xylitol.
Since it has zero calories and carbs, it is generally safe for those with diabetes. It does not increase the sugar levels in the blood. However, don’t assume that all food products containing monk fruit sweeteners are carb- and sugar-free because they might still contain other sugars or undesirable ingredients.
The sweetness of monk fruit is due to the natural compounds called mogrosides. In a 2011 study, monk fruit was used in TCM to relieve sore throat. It is said that mogrosides have anti-inflammatory properties and may help prevent cancer.
2. Stevia — Stevia is a sweetener derived from the leaves of the stevia plant, which is native to Brazil and Paraguay. The active compounds of stevia are called steviol glycosides, which are 30-150 times sweeter than sugar. Thus, you only need a tiny amount to get the sweetness of sugar. The downside is it has a licorice-like, bitter aftertaste and is expensive as well. Some people have reported experiencing bloating and gas too, but the way stevia is processed can make all the difference. I really like the liquid SweetDrops as they are cleanly processed and generally well tolerated. To offset the aftertaste, stevia can be mixed with other sweeteners and is great for low-carb desserts, tea, and coffee.
The FDA classified stevia as GRAS as well.
3. Erythritol — Erythritol is a sugar alcohol used as a food additive and sweetener. This chemical compound is naturally occurring by fermenting the glucose from corn or wheat (so make sure you look for gluten-free, non-GMO on the label!). The taste is 70% sweetness of sugar and does well in baked products as well as non-baked desserts. It is affordable and ranks zero on the glycemic index scale–meaning it doesn’t cause a spike in blood sugar or insulin.
We don’t have an enzyme that breaks down erythritol, so what happens is it goes to the bloodstream and is excreted through the urine without any changes at all. And since it does not increase blood sugar levels, it is a great sugar replacement for people with diabetes. It also tends to be better tolerated than other sugar alcohols by the gut (though, like any food, test it for yourself).
There are other natural sweeteners available in the market, but these three are just my favorites. Staying healthy does not mean not ever indulging in sweets from time to time. Thanks to these natural and healthy sugar alternatives, it’s easier to do that without the backlash!
It is my passion to work with people like you whose health symptoms are getting in the way of you living life fully and with a sense of freedom in your body. I can help you to regain your health so you can feel great and free to enjoy life fully.
If you’re ready to discover where your best health has been hiding, I’d love to connect with you!
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Until next time, I’m wishing you unstoppable health!