Dear friends, my readers, how are you today? I am having a busy week with my challenge (swimming 40,000 metres), working, blogs, podcasts, cooking, eating, friends, family, yoga, mediation, journaling – all the usual things. What have you been up to this week? Let me know in the comments!
Artificial sweeteners, where do I begin? We all know how I feel about refined sugar and its complications for our health. The refined sugar vs artificial sweeteners debate is extensive and controversial. Which is better? Are they just as bad as each other? Let’s find out.
First, let’s talk about how they are made. There are a few different ways that they synthesis sweeteners but let’s be clear, they all involve some sort of chemical processing.
Some sweeteners are made through totally chemically processed means, some derived from types of alcohol sugars and some through extracting plant extract and refining them. The outcome, a sweetened powder that can be used anywhere. Mainly in teas, cakes, baking, coffee, sugary drinks – a substitute for sugar.
Why chose artificial sweeteners – the calories! There is none. In a world where obesity is an epidemic, this cannot be a bad thing right? I disagree. Chemically processed anything is detrimental to human health. It always has been and I believe it always will be. Whenever we remove something from its natural state and chemically process and refine it, it never ends well for us.
The research would agree. Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and neotame are artificial sweeteners that have been linked to obesity, weight gain, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (the world’s biggest killer). We could tell the same story about refined sugar. There is growing evidence conducted on mice that sweeteners cause gut health complications. The mice study shown that the sweeteners produced a similar metabolic affect to a high fat diet. Hence why these sweeteners are promoting weight gain and contributing to the obesity epidemic.
Trying to cut calories with sweeteners simply doesn’t work as the gut will extract more calories from the food that you eat to make up for its loss from the sweeteners. Our bodies are smarter than we think.
In humans, a study shown that people who consumed artificial sweeteners regularly tended to be overweight, with higher fasting blood glucose levels and altered gut microbiota.
Many refined sugar free recipes have plenty artificial sweeteners added. This is utterly pointless. Yes, we’re missing the calories from the refined sugar but the sweeteners cause us to gain weight anyway. You could argue that artificial sweeteners are even more chemically derived than refined sugar.
Sweetness is added to foods that we don’t even eat to satisfy our sweet tooth. The manufactures know and love the addictive properties that come along with the sweet taste and it is therefore added to almost every processed food out there. It’s almost a guarantee that you come back to their product for more. They know how to manipulate us.
The argument that I ask myself, that we don’t yet know the answer to, are we addicted to the sweet taste or the sugar itself. My dissertation that I will be finishing next year is all about whether or not refined sugar is an addiction or just an unhealthy appetite. This is a fascinating field mixing physiology with biology.
Overall, my thoughts are to stay away from all things chemically processed in any way shape or form. Our bodies don’t do well with chemicals.
Here are a few healthier alternatives to sweeten food:
- maple syrup
- fruit – bananas, frozen fruit
- agave nectar
As humans, we crave a sweet taste as it signifies the presence of vitamin C. You don’t need to deprive yourself of this. Simply return to nature. Fruit and other natural sweeteners are the real desserts. There is nothing better than ripe and delicious fruit. The less refined sugar and sweeteners you consume, the more you will appreciate real food.
Explore real food and tastes and create something delicious!
Thank you for reading,
This week’s podcast episode is an interesting one and I think you’ll love it. Listen below or on Spotify and on any podcasting platform.
Lots of love,
Mairi 🙂 x