Photo: Krista McPhee
Wherever you look in the grocery store or restaurants, sugar and natural sugar substitutes are added to just about everything—it’s in nut butter, condiments, kombucha, crackers, popcorn, and most everything else that comes in a package. The sweet drug of choice comes by many names, even super-healthy-sounding euphemisms, so it can be hard even recognizing sugar in all its varying forms. What’s someone interested in maintaining a healthy body and living green to do?
As a functional medicine doctor, my job is not only to make people healthy but also to make it realistic for them to stay healthy. Not many people want to live a sugar-celibate life. So let’s get practical. I will give you exactly which natural sugar substitutes to avoid and the ones that are the recreational drugs of the sugar family: to be used responsibly, with caution and in small amounts. Get your fix, right here.
These are the worst of the worst. The most common culprits and whose colorful packages you often see at any coffee bar are:
- Sucralose – Splenda
- Aspartame – Equal, NutraSweet
- Saccharin – Sweet N’ Low
- Neotame – a chemical derivative of aspartame found in various food products
- Acesulfame – often found in sodas and fruit juices as well as dairy and ice cream products
I have written in the past about the link between artificial sweeteners and health problems. According to studies, these chemical sweeteners actually changes the bacterial makeup of your microbiome. This can be a trigger for autoimmune problems, diabetes and metabolic disorders.
High-fructose corn syrup
This sweetener is so widely used it can be shocking to learn just how many products actually contain it; even foods that you wouldn’t think would contain any sweetener. It is derived from stalks of corn through an intensive chemical process that is anything but natural. Due to its chemical makeup it does not need to be digested by your body and quickly enters your bloodstream leading to insulin spikes that contribute to hormonal problems like leptin resistance, which increases weight gain and weight-loss resistance.