By now you’re probably aware that artificial sweeteners containing Aspartame are not good for your health. It may not surprise you that this substance accounts for more than 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. You might not even raise an eyebrow when I tell you that Aspartame can lead to chronic illnesses such as brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia and diabetes.
If you’re like so many Americans, perhaps you’ve learned to steer clear of those little pink and blue packets of Sweet’ N Low and Equal and instead opt for the yellow Splenda packet.
WHAT CAN YELLOW DO FOR YOU?
That’s a trick question, because the answer is NOTHING!
Splenda, the brand name for sucralose, is the nation’s leading sweetener. In addition to finding the product in every restaurant, grocery store and coffee shop, you can now even buy Splenda-sweetened ice cream, soft drinks and cereal. Unfortunately, Splenda can be every bit as harmful to your health as the other brands of artificial sweeteners. Although the advertisements claim that the product is “made from sugar so it tastes like sugar,” Splenda is actually a chemically created product containing chlorine and phosgene, a toxic gas.
Further research is needed to determine the exact long-term consequences of ingesting this poisonous substance over many years. Animal research provides us with evidence that Splenda contributes to health problems such as diarrhea, aborted pregnancy, enlarged organs, reduced growth rate and decreased red blood cell count. We don’t know everything there is to know about this product, but we’ve learned enough to come to the conclusion that we must avoid it.
Splenda may not be the short cut that so many Americans think it is, but there are still a few healthy alternatives. First, you can reduce sweets in your diet. It may not sound fun, but it’s the healthiest option. Over time, your desire for sugary sweets will dramatically decrease and your insulin levels will level out. If you avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners for even a week, you’ll be amazed at how much sweeter the items you used to love will taste and you may even be satisfied with a smaller quantity. At the very least, you can bake with sucanat, which is a whole cane sugar instead of using the processed white sugar.
When you want that occasional treat, use natural sweeteners like Stevia, agave nectar, honey and Xylitol. Stevia is a South American herb that’s been around for hundreds of years. The leaves of the Stevia plant have a delicious and refreshing taste that can be 100 times sweeter than sugar. The body does not metabolize the sweet glycosides from the Stevia leaf or any of its processed forms, so there is no caloric intake. Plus, Stevia doesn’t adversely affect blood glucose levels and may be used freely by diabetics. You can now find this product at your local health food store and even on the baking aisle at the grocery store. Check out my Stevia recipes for Pumpkin Raisin Bars and Margaritas!
Agave Nectar comes from the Agave plants that thrive in Southern Mexico. While this honey-like nectar has all the useful properties of real sugar, its lower glycemic index helps protect against health risks associated with traditional sweeteners.
Xylitol is another healthy alternative. This white crystalline substance looks and tastes like sugar and has been used in foods since the 1960s. In addition to serving as a sugar substitute, Xylitol has been proven to prevent tooth decay. Look for Xylitol-flavored chewing gum like Trident.
If you’re still reaching for artificial sweeteners and foods that contain them, it’s time to face the sour truth! It’s better to just eat the real stuff in moderation, or even better, to seek out natural alternatives. Your body will thank you!