Bitter Sweet Relationship with Sweeteners
Remember in the folk story how Hansel and Gretel almost got eaten by the Witch because they just can’t get enough eating from the house made of cookies, chocolates, candies and clear sugar. Because of the excessive sweets, both became overweight fulfilling the ultimate fattening goal of the witch before she had them cooked up.
Sugar and society’s LOVE-HATE-RELATIONSHIP has been around since way back when. Ever wonder why regardless of the awareness that too much sweet intake creates negative impact, still we continue to love and crave for these little devils? Basically because that’s what sugar and those artificial sweeteners are functioned to do, disrupting your satisfaction level for sweets, which causes overeating, spike the fat storing hormone insulin and leads to age-accelerating molecules. Yes! This is the truth behind the “unputdownable” chocolate bars and the endless craving for more.
The most commonly used artificial sweeteners that have long been under extreme scrutiny are saccharine, aspartame and sucralose.
Sweet Roots: Origins and Effects of Various Artificial Sweeteners
For more than 100 years, Saccharine is considered as the oldest form of artificial sweetener that is continuously being used until now. This white crystalline compound that is several hundred times sweeter than the usual sugar was approved in the US for use as a tabletop/beverage sweetener and as an ingredient in medicines such as cough syrup. This sweetener is famous among the diabetics and diet conscious individuals because it does not convert into glucose meaning food items containing saccharine has no value and does not add calories as well.
But don’t get too excited just yet, because sadly saccharine is found to be relevant contributor to bladder cancer. And ironically, FDA has permitted saccharine to remain as a food additive, causing a number of eyebrows to rise. This triggered researchers to come-up with a safer substitute and Aspartame came into picture.
Unlike Saccharine, Aspartame is made from protein that can be absorbed anywhere in the body.
It was not long before the disguised harmful effects of Aspartame was made known to the public which includes cancers, infertility, birth defects, ADD and ADHD, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, depression, memory loss, vision loss, vertigo and fibromyalgia among others.
Industry-sponsored studies tried to counter these revelations, but this was not enough to stop the health stores in Europe (who are often ahead when it comes to health-related measures) to take aspartame off their shelves early 2008.
In 1998 the FDA approved the new sweet savior, Sucralose. The only artificial sweetener made from sugar and although 600 times sweeter than sugar itself, Sucralose adds no calories to food because it is not digested.
Inevitably, serious health problems caused by Sucralose were discovered such as:
- Low red blood cells (signs of anemia)
- Disruption with sperm production causing male infertility
- Brain lesions (if taken in high doses)
- Enlarged and calcified kidneys
- Increases possibility of pregnancy miscarriage
Imagine an inventor was trying to create a pesticide until by accident came across this sweet substance and from there suddenly decided to drop the pesticide dream and went for selling the substance as a sweetener. Would you consider eating your cake with this kind of sweetener? Definitely not!
Organo-Chlorine is NOT safe and very lethal because it allows poisons to be fat-soluble while rendering the natural defense mechanism of the body. Resulting problems include weakened immune function, irregular heart beat, agitation, shortness of breath, skin rashes, headaches, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, cancer and worst, it may also affect future generation of your DNA.
The introduction of the non-sugar sweetener brought a happier development for the sweet-toothed. Polyols or sugar alcohols are carbohydrates which partly resembles the structure of both sugar and alcohol.
Even the World Health Organization approves that Polyols are safe for human consumption and classifies them as generally recognized as safe (GRAS).
Minor side effects caused by Polyols are that they are not entirely absorbed and can ferment in the intestine which causes bloating, gas, or diarrhea. Sugar alcohol may have varying effect to an individual so it would be best to test each Polyol in trickles to find out which best suits them.
Xylitol was first manufactured in 1891 by a German chemist and it has been known from then on to the world of organic chemistry. This low-calorie sugar made from birch bark, fibrous vegetable and fruit was a preferred sweetener by many diabetics in some countries.
Though Xylitol had the approval of FDA, it is still recommended to test your body’s response to this additive before taking in huge amounts. It actually contains health-enhancing benefits that serve as an immunity booster – a protector against chronic degenerative disease.
On the contrary, this is not the case when the man’s best friend is exposed even in small amounts. Xylitol is highly poisonous to dogs so extra precaution must be taken if any such items end up with the reach of your K-9.
Fructose also known as fruit sugar is an example of a substance found naturally in fruits that become harmful once it is artificially separated from the fruit.
The unpopular D-Mannose is a simple sugar and an effective treatment with bladder infection. One teaspoon in your green tea is sure to do the trick.
Finally, the greatest discovery in the history of sweetness has been uncovered. Stevia is an herb native to Paraguay is related to the lettuce family that is much sweeter then the actual sugar with not a single harmful effect. It has been used in South America for over 1500 years and revealed numerous helpful features.
- No Sugar and no calories
- Anti-inflammatory effects
- 100% naturally derived
- 250 to 300 times the sweetness of sugar
- Heat stability to 200 degrees Celsius
- No fermentation properties
- Flavor-enhancing ability
- Prevents cavities
- Highly recommended to diabetics because it does not spike insulin
- Anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal properties
- Those with hypertension manifested lower blood pressure.
For those who would like to incorporate Stevia in your daily recipes, it would be a great investment to avail Stevia cookbooks. And maybe you can start writing a modern version about the story of Hansel and Gretel on how they enjoyed eating an entire house made off from Stevia sweets.
As always, the key to a healthy lifestyle is moderation. With Xylitol, D-Mannose and Stevia, it is now possible to satisfy your need for sweet and improve you health instead of harming it.