Monday, January 13, 2014

Why Fake Sugar Doesn't Work For Me

So I wrote about sugar last week.  Too much sugar is supposed to be bad for us, so sugar substitutes were invented.  I have never been a fan of sugar substitutes.  Even when I was young, I always thought diet soda tasted disgusting.  I would rather eat/drink a smaller amount of the "real deal" than fill myself full of the fake stuff.  Apparently I was on the right track because now there are all kinds of reports on some substitutes causing cancer or causing you to crave more sweets.  

Let's take a Google walk down Sugar Substitute Lane. 

Splenda (click HERE to read more -- keeping in mind this is a very one-sided article):

"While some industry experts claim the molecule is similar to table salt or sugar, other independent researchers say it has more in common with pesticides. That’s because the bonds holding the carbon and chlorine atoms together are more characteristic of a chlorocarbon than a salt — and most pesticides are chlorocarbons. The premise offered next is that just because something contains chlorine doesn’t guarantee that it’s toxic. And that is also true, but you and your family may prefer not to serve as test subjects for the latest post-market artificial sweetener experiment — however “unique”.  See our articles on endocrine disruptors for more information on toxins and persistent organic pollutants."

Aspartame (click above for the whole article):

"Aspartame, the main ingredient in Equal and NutraSweet, is responsible for the most serious cases of poisoning, because the body actually digests it. Aspartame should be avoided by most women, but particularly in those with neuropsychiatric concerns. Recent studies in Europe show that aspartame use can result in an accumulation of formaldehyde in the brain, which can damage your central nervous system and immune system and cause genetic trauma. The FDA admits this is true, but claims the amount is low enough in most that it shouldn’t raise concern. I think any amount of formaldehyde in your brain is too much."

Saccharin (quoted from the same article above):

"Saccharin, the first widely available chemical sweetener, is hardly mentioned any more. Better-tasting NutraSweet took its place in almost every diet soda, but saccharin is still an ingredient in some prepared foods, gum, and over-the-counter medicines. Remember those carcinogen warnings on the side of products that contained saccharin? They no longer appear because industry testing showed that saccharin only caused bladder cancer in rats. Most researchers agree that in sufficient doses, saccharin is carcinogenic in humans. The question is, how do you know how much artificial sweeteners your individual body can tolerate?"

Stevia and sorbitol (again quoted from the same article):

"Other countries and diabetics have both taught us a lot about controlling insulin naturally. For many years, diabetics have used products sweetened with polyalcohol sugars like sorbitol, xylitol, malitol, and mannitol. These are natural sweeteners that do not trigger an insulin reaction. (Xylitol can be derived from birch tree pulp). They have half the calories of sugar and are not digested by the small intestine.

While most polyalcohol sugars have no side effects, sorbitol is a natural laxative and can cause diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating and flatulence.

For this reason, we recommend the herb stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) over sorbitol as a natural sweetener to our patients. Known in South America as the “sweet herb”, stevia has been used for over 400 years without ill effect. Stevia has been enormously popular in Japan, where it has been in use for more than 20 years, now rivaling Equal and Sweet’N Low. It’s 200–300 times sweeter than sugar, so just a small portion of stevia will sweeten even a strong cup of tea."

What about Agave sweeteners?

"Although it's fast becoming the preferred sweetener for health-conscious consumers and natural cooks, the truth is that agave is processed just like other sugars -- and is no better for you than other sugars."

Check out THIS blog which discusses sugar versus sugar alternatives, and links to other blogs discussing the same subject:

"Well, that’s easy to answer…the best option is c) none of the above. Your best bet is always going to be to ditch the sweet stuff, whether real or artificial and stick to Real Food. Turning the sweet tooth off is a good idea; fooling it with fake sugar is not a viable long-term solution. We are primed to gorge on sugar at every opportunity."

Okay, well that's not gonna let's continue our journey.

THIS article does list some sugar alternatives that aren't supposed to be sooooo bad.  

 If you believe THIS article, eating sugar substitutes can make you...gasp...FAT!

" may be surprised to learn that research has repeatedly shown that artificial no- or low-calorie sweeteners are anything but good news for weight loss... Contrary to popular belief, studies have found that artificial sweeteners such as aspartame can:
  • Stimulate your appetite
  • Increase carbohydrate cravings
  • Stimulate fat storage and weight gain"
So, for me, real sugar works best in small doses.  I do love my jellybeans and cupcakes but they often make me sick if I'm not careful (dumping syndrome from the gastric bypass).  And, if I could eat watermelon all day, I'd be a happy girl.  Unfortunately, winter has ruined my watermelon consumption.  I will wait patiently for summer and deliciousness to return! 

Tell me about your experiences with sugar and sugar substitutes.  What works best for you?


  1. I try to only use "real" sugar too. I prefer cane sugar in my tea, and other than that I never add sugar to anything unless I'm baking. It's why American chocolate tastes nasty to me; I had never had corn sugar in food before moving here.

    1. I have heard many comments about how nasty American chocolate is next to other chocolate. I guess I haven't truly eaten good non-American chocolate. I find that most non-American chocolate is dark chocolate and I'm not a fan. I did do some litigation in regard to American grocery store chocolate and how it is stored. Basically, by the time it leaves the warehouse and gets to the shelves, it is already past its expiration date. I call Hershey's kisses the hotdog of chocolate, it's all the dusty lips and assholes that they couldn't make other chocolate out of. Kisses make me cough, literally. They're so old, no one should ever bother to eat them. So, at least if I want to have chocolate, I will go to See's or Godiva. Hershey's doesn't do it for me anymore!

  2. I tend to avoid eating fake sugars as I honestly don't like how they typically taste. There is one weird exception for me though. I grew up with my mom eating and drinking diet everything so to this day, regular colas(pepsi/coke) taste funny, I prefer the taste of diet cola, no other diet pop, just diet colas.

    1. That's funny. I didn't drink a ton of soda when I was young but the diet sodas gave me headaches so I have avoided them for years. I mostly only crave a yummy rootbeer every other month or so.

  3. I need to remember to do a reply post... I have a sense that artificial sugars are not actually healthy but I have not had the opportunity to read direct research--just like you mentioned keeping in mind that is a one-sided article I have also only read articles that require factoring in bias. Diet foods are such a let down, I would rather eat a carrot than "lite" ice cream.

    1. I'd rather eat full fat ice cream over lite ice cream OR carrots. :-P I need to write about the "fat free" bullshit phenomenon too. I wasn't a huge soda drinker as a kid but I do remember that diet sodas gave me headaches, so even if there was no evidence to "prove" fake sugars were bad, I would still avoid them.