The average body has a natural inclination to sugar in all its forms.
Sugar, in its most natural and raw form in the body, is glucose. When you consume carbohydrates (like a serving of black beans), those carbohydrates will be broken down and converted into glucose, a sugar that your body needs to operate and energize itself.
Our bodies love sugar because of what it can do for us --provide abundant and easily burnable energy.
As great as sugar can be, the issue is that we have come to fall in love with too many different variants of sugar --from table sugar to Splenda.
With so many options of sugar that aren’t good for us...it’s hard to tell which ones are actually “okay” for our bodies to enjoy.
Today we will talk about why exactly you are supposed to avoid artificial sweeteners, and how to use natural sugar the right way.
Artificial sweeteners trick your tongue into believing real sugar is there… when it isn't
Eating is a much more complicated process than we all may think.
When fake sugar hits your tongue, a message is sent from your tongue to your brain that alerts your stomach and digestive system that something very sweet is coming.
To get ready for this spike of sugar that is supposedly coming into the body, your digestive system releases insulin, an enzyme that breaks down sugars so that they can be used by the body and converted into energy.
Your body is primed and ready for the incoming sugar, but because it’s an artificial sugar coming down the line (something that cannot be easily converted into glucose) ...all that insulin has nowhere to go and will not be used. Over time, this false alarm for insulin production can lead to a steep drop in blood sugar levels in some people, as that insulin has nowhere else to be used on, and begins to break down the sugars that are already available in the body.
Fake sugars are tricking your tongue
Artificial sweeteners are also a cause for you to eat more junk foods.
There is the belief that artificial sugars as a substitute for natural sugars means that you can eat (or drink) as much as you want because it is “less fattening”. Yes, perhaps the sweetener itself has a reduced number of calories, or even zero calories… but that doesn't mean that every ingredient besides that sweetener is lower in unhealthy nutrition facts.
Many see diet soda as something they can drink all they want just because it uses sucralose (like Splenda) rather than natural and simple sugars. While you may be correct that a zero calorie sweetener is being used, that beverage is still loaded with tons of other unnatural additives that make it a drink you should cut out of your diet altogether. While it may be fun to drink on occasion, it is not something to make into a staple of your diet.
Fancy phrases like "zero sugar" and even "low fat" does’t mean that everything else inside that snack is now natural and beneficial and nutritious all the sudden. Yes, these snacks may be fun to eat and munch on… they are still less than healthy for your body.
What about Stevia?
With all the fuss over sweeteners it’s hard to know what kinds are considered okay.
In fact, only a few have been recognized by the FDA, with only one sweetener being recognized as a true low-calorie sweetener: Stevia.
How stevia differs from the other sweeteners listed in a Harvard Health newsletter, is that stevia itself is a whole plant.
Grown with much popularity in South America for its medicinal properties as well as it’s naturally sweet taste, stevia has become very popular in recent times. While many companies sell stevia extract, which are the isolated parts of the plant that taste the sweetest, the whole plant comes with many benefits such as reduced blood pressure, lower blood sugar and cholesterol altering abilities.
That’s quite the plant, that stevia.
Myth: All-natural sugar is “bad” and should be avoided… right?
Natural sugar is great and necessary for your body to operate.
Natural sugar has been dragged through the mud in recent years, and a lot of it is due to the marketing of the companies that are trying to sell artificial sweeteners. Is too much natural sugar good for you? No, it is not, but when consumed from natural sources such as fruit and vegetables (which contain natural sugars that can easily be broken down into instantly useable sugars such as fructose), it's a near perfect balance.
Of coarse, everything in moderation. Especially if your body is already prone to naturally high blood sugar levels.
Looking for something sweet but don’t know where to get your fix from? Reach for an apple or a banana, or any other kind of fruit. It’s natures candy and will leave you with a lot less guilt than that so called “zero-calorie” pouch of cookies.
Gearing, M. "Natural And Added Sugars: Two Sides Of The Same Coin - Science In The News." Science in the News. N. p., 2015.
Strawbridge, Holly. "Artificial Sweeteners: Sugar-Free, But At What Cost? - Harvard Health Blog." Harvard Health Blog. N. p., 2012.
"Everything You Need To Know About Sucralose." FoodInsight.org. N. p., 2018. Web. 25 Jan. 2018.
West, H. "How Artificial Sweeteners Affect Blood Sugar And Insulin." Healthline. 2017.
Publishing, Harvard. "Ask The Doctor: Do Artificial Sweeteners Cause Insulin Resistance? - Harvard Health." Harvard Health. 2017.
Squillace, M. "Should You Rethink 0-Calorie Drinks?." Health.com. N. p., 2018. Web. 25 Jan. 2018.
Gunnars, K. "Stevia – A Natural Sweetener With Proven Health Benefits." Healthline. 2017.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.