Artificial sweeteners and ‘healthy sugars’ 101.
I know what you are thinking. Something along the lines of, Now that bastard is going to take away my Pepsi-Max! Over my dead body!” I empathise with you – don’t worry. It seems every time I pop up, it’s to take away another convenience in your life and I’m sorry! Or maybe I’m not.
All I am doing is trying to make people aware of the dangers of living in our toxic world. You may choose to take on everything I say, in which case your physique and health will be greatly rewarded. You may choose to moderate your bad habits, removing one or two of the incoming toxins in your life, in which case you will be better off, with physique and health changes still being made. Or you may decide I’m a hippy crackpot and choose to continue doing all the things you currently do and cross your fingers nothing bad happens to you.
This month I am addressing artificial sweeteners. It is a hot topic every time I do a diet or a comp prep for someone – What about Pepsi Max? What about Diet Coke etc etc? Due to time restraints, my answer is a simple “No”. Here I’ll discuss a little more about why and what we can substitute with.
We all should by now know the problems associated with eating a diet high in processed sugar. It drives insulin and blood sugar through the roof, causes inflammation in the body and leads to death and disease.
End of story on that one. Our cavedwelling ancestors ate refined sugars once in a blue moon when they came across a beehive in their gatherings and wanted to risk having their arse stung off in order to get a taste of the sweet delicacy. It wasn’t a day-in day-out occurrence of loading up our coffees with a stack of the sweet stuff or adding an extra teaspoon or two to a bowl of Coco-Pops (WTF? by the way).
In an attempt to dodge and avoid disease – or more than likely to avoid the layer upon layer of lard that piles on due to sugar overconsumption – we have turned
to artificial sweeteners. This belies other issues – many even worse than moderate sugar consumption.
Very quickly, the two main artificial sweeteners used in commercial produce are aspartame and sucralose. Aspartame is the more studied of the two sweeteners and the jury is still out on the ‘safety of this product. If the government are trying to decide if something is safe (for example, they set mercury levels at a ‘safe’ level; as far as I’m concerned, there is no safe level of mercury in anything) and they have taken this long to decide, PLUS it’s part of a multi-billion dollar industry…then run for the hills. You don’t want a bar of it.
Aspartame is made up of:
Methanol: a dangerous alcohol linked to many deaths, great to make paint stripper and glues but probably not the best to eat…duh.
Aspartic acid: kills off neurotransmitters in the brain. Phenylalanine: depresses serotonin levels… hello depression!
Sucralose is newer than aspartame and made from sugar, so it’s touted as more safe. This is the same argument as margarine is made from vegetables so its safe (let’s not even go into hydrogenated vegetable oils). The bottom line is, it s so far removed from sugar it’s not funny. Sucralose is a chlorinated product which would be great if you wanted it to kill all the bacteria in your pool but, again, probably not a good idea to eat it. This is probably why it has been found to kill off good bacteria in the stomach very, very quickly.
Both these products increase the pH of the gut. Since today’s humans suffer greatly from inadequate HCL levels in the stomach, we should look to artificial sweeteners as one of the reasons why.
Lately there has been a big surge – and a lot of this. Im sad to say, has come from the Paleo movement – in the ‘healthy natural sugars’ like agave syrup, palm sugar and ‘raw’ sugar.
They all do the same thing as pure sugar does. In my opinion, due to its massive fructose content, agave is probably worse than table sugar! Just because its sold in a health food shop, it’s not a green light for indulging.
I’m not about to bag fructose though, dont get me wrong. People are surprised when they work with me, as I am one of the only coaches left that still allows fruit in contest diets. Fruit has its place and, although it contains some sugar, it also contains many quality nutrients and fibre. Its a completely different story when the body knows how to handle the sugars that come naturally in a whole food source, packaged the way nature intended. We have been eating fruits for millions of years: its in our evolution. Processed, refined sugars are a newcomer and our systems have no means of handling them without serious distress.
My solution for those who cannot give up the diet cordials and sodas: for those just looking for a little something to make their coffee sweeter, look to stevia. It’s a great product that in addition to fulfilling all your sweetening needs has some wonderful health benefits, including repairing adrenal glands.
Before I knew all the dangers of the sweet poisons, I was a diet soda fiend. I would drink many a can to ease the pain of dieting for a show and I know how you all feel – so don’t think Im some kind of outsider that hasn’t suffered through it all before. The simple solution for me was squeezing a couple of lemons or limes (about the same amount as you need for cordial concentrate) and adding stevia to sweeten before topping up with water. DONG! You now have a lemon lime diet’ cordial that is an all- natural source and almost calorie free. Add to that the many benefits of lemons and limes, including alkalising the body, donating citrates to the Krebs cycle for energy increases, modulating blood sugar, aiding digestion – the list goes on – and you have yourself a winner.
This for me has evolved into ordering pure organic lemon and lime juices from organic stores so I no longer had to squeeze them myself. Although not as nutritionally beneficial as the freshly squeezed versions, it becomes just as convenient as having a bottle of cordial on hand.
I urge you all to try this. For a super special treat do it with sparkling water. It sounds ok to you ‘normal’ people reading this, but I bet it’s a godsend to those in the throes of contest prep.
Fuel your fire!