We have all been hearing about the harmful effects of over-consuming sugar and fructose, but what sugar alternatives do we have? And, with such a strong sweet tooth, especially around PMS time, how can we kick the cravings? According to Dr. Robert Lustig from the leading medical school of the University of California San Francisco, sugar is toxic and our society has quadrupled the sugar intake from just 50 years ago. That means our grandparents were eating just 15g of sugar per day and we are eating 45g of sugar on average each day. We are also a suffering species of heart disease and diabetes with over 300 million people suffering from insulin resistance whereas these diseases didn’t even exist 100 years ago. And no, it isn’t because we are living longer because children are being born with Type-2 diabetes which was supposed to be the type that you create on your own by eating too much junk. This shows that there is something seriously wrong with our diets and now our children are paying the price!
Liquid Sweets – The Same or Worse
Like Honey and Agave
Many people have switched to the natural sweet syrups like honey and agave because of a low-glycemic index. This word is being thrown around like it saves us from diabetes and heart disease. It does not. It just means that your body takes longer to digest it and if you eat a lot of low-glycemic carbs and sugar, then the digestion of all of those start to back up like a long line of traffic.
Agave has had a craze lately but it is on of the worst substitutes you can turn to. You are better off eating straight sugar cane. Agave is pure fructose. This is the type of sugar that doesn’t get digested and has to be processed by the liver. And when the liver is overworked by the overload, it will release the agave into your body as free radical carcinigens which contribute to cancer development. In tiny, small amounts, our livers can handle fructose. But that really means one apple or pear in a week (not every day!) – the equivalent to 9 grams of fructose, which is a lot but is also surrounded by the fibers of the apple.
Long story short, just avoid the agave.
Honey is a special syrup because it contains a high amount of fibers which comes from its bee buddies. It also has less glucose and fructose than regular sugar and agave which is ranking it higher on the list of sugars. But just because something is healthier doesn’t mean it is healthy, especially when it comes to sugar.
What you need to remember throughout this article is sugar is sugar. And substitutes are just here to help lower the sugar intake on rare occasions but not replace the crazy daily amount of sugar that the average person consumes (45g per day!). So, take this with a grain of sugar and use less while taking measures to kick your craving naturally (and check out FEMNA’s secret weapon).
Aspartame – Get Rid of It!
Found in Equal and Coke Zero
Aspartame is one of the most harmful sugar alternatives that was introduced into our diets during the “diet phase” in the 90s. Everyone wanted to lose weight and sugar was getting a bad rap for calories so aspartame came along for the reign.
Aspartame has been studied to find that it is cancer inducing by increasing the number of free radicals in our bodies. Scientists have found that aspartame is the cause of injured or killed cells, destructing cell membranes and creating a loss of cell function. Nonetheless, aspartame is FDA approved and still seen as a healthy/safe food but is clearly toxic by the looks of this study:
“When consuming high-aspartame diets, participants had more irritable mood, exhibited more depression, and performed worse on spatial orientation tests. Given that the higher intake level tested here was well below the maximum acceptable daily intake level of 40–50 mg/kg body weight/day, careful consideration is warranted when consuming food products that may affect neurobehavioral health.”
Sugar Alcohols – Processed Yet Less Toxic
Commonly known as Xylitol, Erythritol and Sorbitol
Sugar alcohols are found in small quantities in fruits but are also processed from corn or birch bark to create a sugar-like substance. It is a low-calorie sweetener that mimics the sugar molecule. Many people enjoy this substitute as it is easy to bake with and solve. It is a very suitable alternative to sugar, though, isn’t the cure for over-consuming sweets.
Xylitol has been reported to have a benefit with candida which is a bacteria that proliferates on sugars but causes serious problems on the body. When Xylitol is present, candida prefers the sugar substitute and feasts on it but can’t process it and so dies off. This sounds great, but it also has the same affects in our bodies. Sugar alcohols are not digested by the intenstines and so passes through to the gut and has to be detoxed through the liver. If there is an overload in the liver, it will be stored as fat. Yes, weight is still an issue with these alternatives, but not only that. They also can cause tummy upset.
Sugar alcohols are FODMAPs, fermentable sugars and carbohydrates that cause gastronomic distress (gas, bloating, diarrhea), especially for those with sensitive guts. These indigestible carbohydrates cause gut flora to vastly proliferate and can cause an imbalance. Your gut flora, like hormones, has a delicate balance. If one species grows substantially from a feast like large amounts of FODMAPs, you will feel the tummy effects.
All in all, sugar alcohols should be used as a sugar alternate but not just substitute the large amount of sugar that the average person nowadays eats. Which means, the amount of sweet we consume needs to change – not the product. To lower the sweet consumption, we have to stop eating so much by satisfying the craving through a healthy diet. But, we are human and sweets are often a huge temptation. Plant-based sweeteners offer a better way to cut down on the cravings.
Plant-based Sweeteners – The Best Kind: Natural
Natures goodies: stevia, cinnamon & licorice
These are the most natural ways to sweeten your food and kill a craving. Of course we favor the plant-based sweeteners because they are the least processed or even the natural product. They are easier on liver and delicious. There is really no replacement for sugar, but these natural sweeteners can help you lower your sugar intake and rid yourself of that devilish sweet tooth. Substitute them for sugar in a rare desert (like your birthday cake), add them to your coffee or tea or drink them as your desert in a tea – we’ll show you how.
Stevia is a naturally sweet tasting plant, and the extract has been making headlines as a reputable sugar alternative. Without calories or a sugar count, it has been the new substitute for cane sugar and fructose. Some health benefits have come along with this tasty plant too like lowering sugar blood levels, cholesterol and cancer risk but, like everything else, might not be beneficial in large quantities.
Scientist have suggested that stevia may have properties that kills off certain bacteria that is helpful to have around in your gut. With less of the good, more of the bad can proliferate. Studies show that in the longrun, it doesn’t really have an impact on insulin, negative or positive. A common complaint around the natural sweetener is that it comes with an artificial sweet taste that lingers which just goes to show that you can’t match sugar without sugar.
Cinnamon and licorice are by far the best options. Saving the best for last! These are the most natural sweetners, especially when you snack on the cinnamon and licorice bark (important: this is not the licorice gummy or a cinnamon role!). Both have sweet properties that are lost if you are so used to adding cane sugar to everything. When you decide to cut out sugar (not for good but a majority of it) from your diet, these two natural sweetners taste really sweet!
Side note: so do lemons. Lemons taste sweet when you don’t eat sugar! Who’d of thought?
Cinammon is a diabetics secret weapon because it lowers blood sugar and can help cut sugar out of their diet. It is also quite an impressive additive to coffee, helping to balance out the cortisol spike that caffeine has adn therefore, controlling the “jitters” that people complain of having when drinking their morning joe. Cinammon has also been used to help digestion and immunity. Not to mention, it’s packed with vitamins and minerals which is a dire need in a society that is highly deficient. Like I said, without sugar, this sweetener is sweet enough and sweetened by nature. It is anti-inflammatory, promotes healthy skin and fights candida (as well as cancer) to name a few. There is no evidence to point to cinnamon being harmful so it is the perfect substitute.
Licorice is mother nature’s desert of choice. One of the sweetest barks, it has been used over centuries as a treat and a medicine. For scratchy throats and respiratory problems, sucking on the licorice bark coats the back of the throat for a soothing feeling. Licorice also lowers cortisol and protects teeth. Experts warn not to over indulge in licorice thought, because overdoing it can cause tummy upset or high blood pressure.
The Verdict – No Sugar
The replacement of sugar should be no sugar, but it is unrealistic to kill yourself over never incorporating it. A little of anything is easily digestible by the body. The human body is greatly resilient – but not superhuman. A little bit of a toxin can be detoxed by the body but when we have risen our consumption of sugar to the unworldly amount it is today (on average 45g.day.person), abig problemoccurs:a health epidemic. That is why diabetes and heart disease are through the roof in only the last century. Why? The evidence points to a sugar and carbohydrate heavy diet. And when you are a diabetic, sugar alternatives are not the quick fix you’ve been looking for – that doesn’t exist. Your body will raise insulin even if you sense something sweet and don’t consume it.
The Secret Weapon
When you have a craving for something sweet, sugar alternatives still have huge repercussions. Satisfying your craving with whole food plant-based alternatives like cinnamon and licorice is the natural and historic way to incorporate sweets into the diet. FEMNA uses Crave Me tea to satisfy these sweet cravings while balancing hormones and smoothing out those difficult PMS days before menstruation. The expert derived recipe combines the right amount of cinnamon and licorice (with other delicious herbs) to create a liquid desert without the sugar!