If you have one takeaway from this post, let it be that artificial sweeteners are the absolute worst sweeteners. The most common artificial sweeteners are aspartame (Equal), Saccharin (Sweet N’ Low), and Sucralose (Splenda). These artificial sweeteners actually cause you to crave more sweet and sugary foods. Basically, when you opt for the zero calorie sweetener in your coffee, it’s actually causing you to consume more calories and hold on to more fat. Artificial sweeteners change your gut bacteria, feeding the bad bacteria, and lead to increased fat storage. My philosophy is if your brain can’t understand or pronounce the chemicals found in lab-made artificial sweeteners, your gut won’t either. It simply won’t know what to do with it or how to break it down. By disrupting the balance of your gut health, you compromise your entire immune system, causing a wide range of health issues. Artificial sugars have been proven to cause cancer, especially aspartame.
Refined sugars, which include table sugar or cane sugar, are found in most all packaged foods like cereals, chips, snacks, yogurts, drinks, granola bars, meal replacement bars; most of which contain around 12 grams of added sugar PER SERVING. Refined sugar is half glucose and half fructose. Glucose is used for energy where fructose is mostly converted to fat, because it’s usually ingested in high amounts. The liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose and when too much fructose enters the liver, it becomes overloaded and sends the sugar directly to your fat cells. The bottom line is sugar makes you fat! Ultimately, humans should not be consuming more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day. We simply weren’t designed to. Think of our ancestors or cavemen. They rarely ever came across berries or honey, and those would have been natural sugars! Personally, I would say 1 to 2 teaspoons should be the limit, but the average American ingests 23 teaspoons of sugar per day. Refined sugars also increase your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
- A helpful tip for calculating the number of teaspoons in a product is to divide the grams of sugar by 4. So a serving containing 12 grams of sugar would equate to 3 teaspoons of sugar.
Natural sweeteners, including raw honey, pure maple syrup, provide more nutrients than simple table sugar. They are still high in calories, so I would use no more than 1 to 2 teaspoons a day. Raw honey and maple syrup contain antioxidants and have prebiotic qualities that help feed your good gut bacteria. Stevia is actually an herb that has been used for centuries. It’s 200 to 300 times sweeter than sugar. It naturally has zero calories and contains antioxidants. It also has no effect on blood sugar, making it a great option for diabetics as well.
- Often times Stevia is used in conjunction with erythritol, like Truvia. Erythritol is a sugar derivative. It’s made from sugar alcohol. It contains .24 calories per gram, where as sugar contains 4 calories per gram. It too does not raise blood sugar, but 10% of it is not digestible by the body, so it can cause digestive discomfort. To me, it’s a weird manipulated form of sugar.
Personally, my favorite sweetener is a local raw honey (helps with seasonal allergies and supports immune system) or stevia when sweetening anything.