TIPS FOR EATING WITHOUT SUGAR
Good & Bad
There is a huge difference between the many sugars available and some can benefit us, some can be extremely harmful. Sugars in their natural state can be fairly healthy for us. Sugars such as coconut sugar and even raw sugar cane/beet are generally fine. But it’s a different story when it has been chemically altered or heavily processed, such as with refined sugars, fructose-based sweeteners such as agave nectar, glucose-fructose syrup, corn syrup, etc. Then it can have very negative effects upon our health and has been stated to be more addictive than cocaine! It can feed cancer and have disastrous effects upon our gut bacteria, causing us many problems such as a compromised immunity, candida overgrowth, obesity and diabetes, and much more. Despite agave syrup being sold as a healthy sweetener, fructose, when isolated from the plant and its matrix of phytonutrients and fibre to assist the digestion, can be extremely detrimental to health, even more so than sucrose!
Natural honey, particularly when produced local to us, and manuka honey, are generally good for us and can even have therapeutic properties. Honey produced locally to your home can act almost like a natural vaccine, offering some immunity from hayfever as the honey is made from the pollen you are reacting to. Manuka honey is renowned for its antibacterial and antifungal properties, amongst many other benefits. Cheap honeys are sometimes diluted with glucose fructose syrup so beware!
Maple syrup can often be consumed without negative effects upon the body, when it is pure, natural maple syrup and preferably organic. Beware of fake maple flavoured syrup!
Artificial sweeteners are extremely detrimental to our health and this has been proved by much unbiased research and scientific studies, yet thousands of people still use it in their tea and coffee, and it is widely found in many different food products, even those you would not expect. For those of us who have researched this in detail, it baffles us that it is even allowed into any food or drink! It is evident that the wide acceptance of sweeteners is down to very clever marketing and propaganda, not only by the corporations who manufacture these harmful chemicals but also the mainstream press who appear keen to sway public opinion to that which pleases their corporate sponsors and advertisers. These clever tactics have caused a refusal by many to even consider the negative effects artificial sweeteners are having upon their health, and that they could even be causing the symptoms or conditions they suffer from such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, some of the very conditions that cause people to buy the sweeteners in the first place!
You need to completely eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet. Some of these are:
Saccharin, Aspartame, Acesulfame K, Truvia, Splenda, Canderel, Sucralose, Fructose, Glucose-fructose syrup, high fructose corn syrup (not an exhaustive list).
For further information on the individual sweeteners that are currently available, please go to my website article “The Not so Sweet Truth” at www.daniellebryant.co.uk
Safe Alternative Sweeteners
The two safest choices of sweeteners to date are xylitol and stevia.
Xylitol is granulated wood alcohol from trees, most commonly the birch tree (though it can also come from corn – and this is often GM). It is considered safe for candida, diabetics and is less than 40% of the calories of sugar. It has a low GI and is good for the teeth and gums (often an ingredient in toothpaste and chewing gum!). Maltitol and sorbitol are other sweeteners that are wood alcohols. These are generally considered to be safe, but are not as beneficial as xylitol. They are often found in diabetic foods. Care should be taken when you eat foods containing wood alcohols as if you have a lot, especially when you are not used to it, they can cause your stools to be loose and sometime cause excessive wind!
Stevia as a natural herb which is extremely sweet. It has quite a strong liquorice aftertaste in its natural form. It can be found in powder form with the licorice taste removed, and is now being used in some low sugar foods and drinks. It is especially attractive as it has 0 calories! However, it is uncertain that the new stevia-based sweeteners are as healthy as the natural plant they come from. Steviol glycosides are the chemicals responsible for the ultra sweetness of the stevia leaves, they are chemically extracted and cleaned during the processing to make the sweetener. There are a lot of conflicting accounts of the safety of steviol glycosides and it has certainly not been involved in studies for long term effects. Personally I would avoid and stick to other safe alternatives, natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup, or natural stevia leaf extract.
Many people are documented to have recovered from their health conditions or at least have found dramatic improvements in their conditions and symptoms, just by changing their sweetener or sugar! So here is a summary of my advice:
SWEETENERS TO AVOID:
Artificial: These are current anti-nutrient (they rob nutrients rather than give us nutrients) sugar substitutes – ASPARTAME, TRUVIA, NEOTAME, SACCHARIN, ACESULFAME-K, SUCRALOSE, SPLENDA, ALITAME. Although not as bad, I would also suggest avoiding STEVIOL GLYCOSIDES for the reasons I mentioned. There may be more by the time you are reading this, but these are correct at time of writing! There are new sweeteners currently in various stages of development and approval.
Natural (so-called): AGAVE nectar/syrup, FRUCTOSE-based sweeteners, maple FLAVOURED syrup, cheap honeys.
OPT FOR: good quality honey – local or manuka, pure maple syrup, xylitol from birch, coconut sugar, natural stevia or stevia leaf extract. Some recipes can use sweet vegetables such as carrot or beetroot for sweetening, and unsweetened dessicated coconut is good to sweeten dishes too. Also peanut or other nut butter or berries can be good for satisfying a sweet craving.
TAKE CARE: when you find a mainstream product without sweeteners (there are still some!), keep reading the labels. So often the food companies change the ingredients and although normally the label will state something like “New Improved” or “Now with less Sugar”, sometimes the ingredients change without notice. My family have been caught out a few times in the past by this!
For a downloadable print-friendly version of this handout, click HERE