Friday, April 9, 2010

Guest Blog: Weight Loss and Sugar Substitutes – How Healthy Are They?

I've decided to feature a guest blogger from time to time. Amy has written an article for me about sugar substitute. I recently blogged about sugar alcohol which comes from the body not being able to absorb sugar substitute, so I thought this article would fit right in. I hope you enjoy it. Please let me know what you think.

Most of us would go to any length to lose weight if it meant that we didn’t have to exercise rigorously or give up eating food that we love, and this is why we turn to sugar substitutes. We’ve all been brought up to believe that sugar is bad for us, especially the refined kind. Not only does one spoonful contains a ton of calories, it also puts you at a higher risk for diabetes and other related diseases. So when we see the substitutes being advertised on television and other media, we naturally jump at the offer to both satisfy our taste buds and stay slim.

Unfortunately, no one bothers to speak up about the side effects of sugar substitutes – they may help you stay off sugar and so save a few calories in your daily diet, but they’re a threat to your physical and mental health:
  • Aspartame, which is a major ingredient of most artificial sweeteners, is a synthetic compound that has been around for quite some time now. Although the FDA claims that aspartame is safe except for those who suffer from phenylketonuria (a rare, genetic disease that causes mental retardation), there have been cases where people who have used sugar substitutes for a long period of time have been affected by mental and neurological illnesses. The problem with aspartame is that there is a safe daily limit, but people don’t realize that and use sugar substitutes not just for their coffee, but also to bake cakes and other goodies. By increasing their consumption of aspartame beyond the recommended daily limit, they’re increasing their health risks as well.
  • Splenda, the new wonder sugar substitute that’s been touted as “natural” by the FDA was actually discovered when researchers were trying to find a pesticide from sucralose. This chemical substance mimics the characteristics of sugar but is not absorbed as food by the body, and this seems to makes it the perfect sugar substitute. The truth is, no one knows yet if Splenda is safe or not. But considering that artificial sweeteners have always been considered risky, it’s best not to jeopardize your health by becoming a human experimental guinea pig.
Weight loss is not just about cutting out the sugar from your diet; it’s about exercise, eating food that is rich in nutrients, and adopting a more active lifestyle. So it’s better to go easy on the sugar rather than use sugar substitutes – drink just one cup of coffee a day instead of two or more, drink your coffee without sugar or reduce the amount of sugar you use, and try natural and healthier substitutes like honey or stevia (a herb that is naturally sweet).

While there are no conclusive results to prove that artificial sweeteners are bad for your physical and mental health if used in limited doses, it’s best to avoid them because they’re not really good for your health.

This guest post is contributed by Amy S. Cook, who writes on the topic of LVN to RN . Amy welcomes your comments at her email id: .


MaryFran said...

Very good information. I've been one that has always spurned the artificial sweeteners. I would rather eat a smaller amount of least it's natural. :-)

However, I'm really contemplating going SF for a week to see how my body reacts!

anne h said...

I went LowCarb - no sugar.
So from time to time, I do use artificial sweeteners.
Maybe it's what works best for each person.some would say honey is "more natural" than white sugar as it is less refined.
Just like the argument on fat vs low-fat....
But in the end, we are all learning.

GinasBookkeeping said...

I read in an article some time ago so I can't remember all of it but it goes something like this...when you use sugar substitutes it sends a "message" to your brain that says "sugar is on the way" so your body prepares itself for the sugar. Then the sugar never gets there.

The idea of cutting back a little bit at a time is great. I did it several years ago with sugar in my iced tea and also with table salt. I would use less and less over time until I cut it out completely. I don't sugar my tea anymore. I can enjoy a glass of sweet tea once in awhile but not often. I use table salt for VERY few foods.

When I do sweeten things such as my hot tea, which I drink strong like coffee, I use liquid Stevia. If I decide to put soy milk/creamer in the tea I often forgo the sweetener.

Avoiding the "D" is too late for me. However, I do everything I can to control my blood sugars without the use of medication or as little as possible.

@MaryFran: if you decide to go cold turkey from sugar get ready for the "withdrawal" symptoms for about 3 day. I get horrible headaches. However, the severity can also have to do with how much sugar you are currently using and your own body chemistry.


Physicallee Fit said...

The research on sucralose and splenda is still being done, but they have discovered the "cleaning" organs, i.e. the liver and the kidneys, both enlarge when on a sucralose/splenda diet.

Count me as a pass on those and xylitol and processed white sugar and whatever else.

Give me honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice or something even better!