How Sweet it Is

Updated: Jun 3

We love sweet. Most of us are introduced to sugar or sweetness very early in life. Candy and sweets are treats for most of us as children. They comfort us sometimes when nothing else can.Then one day, some of us learn that the sweetness we enjoy so much can actually be compromising our health.

And so we look for alternatives. Today there are MANY options. Aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-K, xylitol, malitol, stevia, monk fruit, etc. Are these substitutes any better for us than the real deal?

Sugar substitutes are non-nutritive compounds. They taste like sugar but provide little to no calories. Why is it that those who drink artificially sweetened sodas have a 36% greater chance of developing insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome? I mean it's not sugar, right? And, then 67% of people develop increased risk of Type II Diabetes! No calories, no sugar! What is going on here?

Part of the problem is that several of the 'sweeteners' are man-made, in the lab and there is nothing natural about them. Think 'Aspartame' and sugar alcohols such as Malitol or Erythritol, to name a couple. The natural category would include stevia and monk fruit. It appears that the man-made sweeteners may make you hungry causing you to desire more food. The science isn't exactly clear but it appears that when the body gets the sweet taste, it is expecting the energy load that typically comes with sweet. When that doesn't happen, you may continue eating just to meet that energy need. The body is still craving the energy so more food is needed!

Another possibility is that subconsciously, we know there are no calories in the drink so therefore, we can, and do eat more food. There are no calories in my drink so - I'll have the LARGE fries rather than the small fries with my burger - something like that!

The third possibility is that some of the man-made sweeteners cause an insulin response in the body. In nature, if a food tastes sweet, it has carbohydrates. So, the body makes itself ready for the inevitable carbohydrate load by secreting insulin, even though the carbohydrate load never comes. The sweeteners which cause this to occur are the sugar alcohols (Malitol, Erythritol, Xylitol (and others ending in 'ol' ) and Sucralose. So, if you know you are insulin resistant, it would probably be wise to stay away from those sweeteners.

What's left that's safe? That would leave us with stevia and monk fruit. These days, if I drink any diet soda - I will only drink those sweetened with stevia. So yes, we can still enjoy the 'sweet things in life', we just have to be wise about it. So, there you go sweetie! Enjoy!