Over the past many years, doctors, nutritionists, the media and our peers have inundated us with the idea that all sugar is bad. As a result, there was a mad rush to get to the supermarket to stock up on those artificial sweeteners – those sweeteners that we were all told were little lifesavers. Literally.
To be fair, there are many benefits with lowering one’s sugar intake or completely cutting that little product completely. But are artificial sweeteners the way to go?
I have always thought that artificial sweeteners are risky; especially since doctors truly do not know what effects they can have on us later. And apparently I am not the only one who has suspicions regarding said sweeteners. Tara Miller, a holistic nutritionist in Toronto, also recommends rethinking the artificial sweetener route.
Miller has had plenty of people (including myself!) ask her what benefits there are to incorporating artificial sweeteners in one’s diet versus regular white sugar, and what form of sugar is best suited for our bodies.
“[With regards to the frenzy over lowering one’s sugar intake], there are many reasons for it,” Miller explains. “One in particular being the rise in obesity and related diseases such as diabetes. Sugar is stored as fat and drastically affects our blood sugar levels causing all sorts of problems.”
So what options are there for us? I have broken down the types of artificial sweeteners there are and what types of real sugar there are, and with the help of Miller, The Student’s Life hopes that you will be able to make an informed decision about the sort of sugar you want to make a part of your daily diet.
Artificial sweeteners are found in all “diet” foods – from fat-free yogurt to sugar-free gum. But just because they are in so many products does not necessarily mean that they are good for you. There are plenty of artificial sweeteners to choose from, the most common ones being Splenda, Sugar Twin, Sweet ‘N Low and Equal. It can be difficult to choose the safest sweetener because they can all look and taste similar. But there is one important point everyone must understand about these sweeteners: “Although calorie free, sweeteners are not real food and can do even more damage to our bodies than sugar because they are chemical substances that our body does not know what to do with.”
We all have heard about the scares and controversy over Aspartame, and it has been debated inside and out about whether or not it is really as bad as some doctors and professionals say. There is no concrete answer as to the safety of Aspartame; that is entirely up to the individual.
Oh sugar. You can find sugar in pretty much everything – from white bread to juices, baked goods to ice cream. And when you were younger, you were most likely crazy about sugar, always begging your parents for a sweet treat. Now though, you may be more concerned about your health and have started debating whether your old best friend really should be your friend still. Miller says not to go running the opposite direction just yet because even if you are wary about eating white sugar, there are still lots of other options to choose from that are a whole lot more natural than those artificial sweeteners.
“Stevia is a natural sweetener and is actually an herb; it is fairly new but from what I have read it is safe in moderate quantities.” she explains. “In terms of the other natural sugars, they all spike blood sugar levels (except agave nectar). The only difference is the level of processing (white sugar the most) and their mineral content (raw honey and maple syrup have important minerals in them at least). Agave seems to spike blood sugar levels the least, however, there is some controversy over how it is extracted.”
So what does Miller recommend?
That’s simple. “They are both bad in their own respects, but if I had to choose between the two I would say real, or natural, sugar.
“I would recommend if you would like to have something sweet to choose raw honey or agave nectar. But by reducing your sweet intake slowly you will crave it less and less until hopefully you need none. The problem with choosing a chemical sweetener is that it keeps your body on that sugar cycle and craving something sweet!”
Category: Quick Eats