Saturday, July 25, 2009

Sugar Substitutes (excerpt from The Asian Diet)

The following excerpt is from The Asian Diet: Simple secrets for eating right, losing weight, and being well

Sugar substitutes

Sweetening is a multi-billion dollar industry. Money and politics have played shady roles in bringing these products to the market, and now they are everywhere. There are a few ways to sweeten things naturally. They are: pure cane sugar, raw sugar, beet sugar, honey, stevia, agave nectar, maple syrup, molassas, rapadura, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, sucanat, turbinado sugar, date sugar, and fruit juice. All of these are fine and should be taken in moderation.

Most of the foods we eat have at least some sweetness to them. We have become desensitized to this because we have so much concentrated sugar and sweets all the time. Eating ever-sweeter and sweeter foods just takes us further away from being able to enjoy the natural sweetness of natural foods. This is like looking directly into a spotlight for 20 minutes and then trying to appreciate candlelight. If we take a break from the artificially-super-sweet products, we can regain the appreciation of the flavors of natural foods.

Too much sweet flavor engenders dampness and phlegm in the body and taxes the digestion- regardless of its source. But the artificial sweeteners are much worse. We have evolved eating sugar. Our DNA has seen glucose for thousands of years. We have never seen high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, splenda, etc. They are unnatural and I believe they are contributing to the rise of diabetes in this country. Our pancreas knows how to handle glucose, but it doesn't know what to do with these new substances. I believe that this disturbs our insulin production. But there is big money in selling us sweeteners and they keep getting through to us.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This is the cheapest way to get sweetness into your food products; and it has become ubiquitous. It is found in everything from candy and soda, to bread, yogurt, pizza, crackers, ketchup, and much more. Remember, too much of any one thing is not a good thing. Having HFCS in so many foods means that we are being overdosed on corn and fructose. It comes from corn that is genetically modified to increase its sweetness, and prepared with genetically modified enzymes. Plus, glucose is metabolized by every individual cell, fructose is only processed in the liver. This puts additional strain on our livers.

Aspartame (aka Nutrasweet, Equal)
This is what goes into Diet Coke, Diet Pepsi, and just about every other thing that is sweet and diet. It is 180 times as sweet as sugar. Many people believe they are helping their bodies by using this instead of sugar. They are dead wrong. Recent studies have shown that people using this sugar substitute experience an increased appetite! The use of diet sodas is associated with weight gain, not weight loss. Why then would you use it if you are trying to lose weight?

The fact that is has no calories just means that we cannot break it down. It passes through the body, but that does not mean it has no impact. It interacts with many other types of cells and structures as this chemical makes it way through our bodies. The FDA has received more complaints about aspartame than any other substance.

There were many objections from the scientific community when Aspartame was seeking approval from the FDA. It breaks down into formaldehyde in the body (a known carcinogen) and is associated with headaches/migraines, brain tumors, brain lesions, memory loss, arthritis, hypertension, abdominal pain, and lymphomas. But there was enough profit to be made that Donald Rumsfeld (the then-Chairman of Searle, the company that held the patent on aspartame) was able to get it approved. The panel voted to ban the substance, but this vote was overturned through some very shady politics. There was too much money to be made. And now aspartame is in over 5000 food products in the US. I know some people who have 3-4 diet sodas a day and think they are being healthy. Microdose by microdose, they are poisoning themselves. Stay away from this one.

Equal has another ingredient that distinguishes it from Nutrasweet. It is phenylalanine, which can cause seizures at high doses.

Sucralose (Splenda)
This is found in over 3,500 food products in the US. The makers, Johnson and Johnson, claimed that it is made of sugar, but they are now being sued because that is not true. It has chlorine in it. Some other foods have naturally-occurring chlorine and that's OK because it also has other compounds to neutralize its effects; but man-made chlorine is extremely toxic and can kill. Unlike aspartame, this does not all travel through the body. As much as 15-27% of ingested sucralose is absorbed. How it behaves once absorbed is not yet understood. Anecdotal reports associate sucralose with headaches, urinary problems, fatigue, digestive disorders, and other ailments.

Saccharine (sweet 'n' low)
The first of the artificial sweeteners to bypass public safety. There has been opposition to this product for over 100 years. It is made from anthranilic acid, nitrous acid, sulfur dioxide, chlorine, and ammonia. You would never eat any of these things if you had a choice. It is suspected of causing cancer, but it is still on the market.

A general rule is: If it is made by god, it's probably ok. If it is made by man, it is suspect. (this does not apply to toadstools, arsenic, mercury, and other known, natural poisons). The natural sweeteners are always better than the artificial ones.

Diabetics often feel they have no choice but to ingest these sugar substitutes. But if you correct your diet, you can stabilize your blood sugar and be better able to tolerate the occasional encounter with sugar. Natural sugars are not so bad. Adopting a more plant-based, whole foods diet can reduce or eliminate the need for diabetic medication. But DO NOT alter your medication based on information in this book. Monitor your sugars and, when and if appropriate, discuss tapering your medication with your physician.

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