Everything You Need To Know About Sweeteners
When you have a book called Your Amazing Itty Bitty Diet Free Weight Loss Book, you get a lot of questions about the sweet stuff! The one I get asked most often is, “Which sweeteners can I use?”
While artificial sweeteners like Splenda, saccharine and aspartame are most certainly out, there are natural sweetener options that won’t harm your health.
How to Choose Healthy Sweeteners
First, don’t fall for that nonsense that all-natural equals healthy. Alternatives like maple syrup or agave are still sugars!
The end result in your body is the same: cravings, inflammation, and excess body fat!
Although no sweetener is perfect, the ones below are your best bets.
Here’s the 411 on my top sweetener choices…
Stevia is one of my favorite sweetener choices. A small amount of it gives a sweet taste without affecting your blood sugar. In fact, studies have shown that Stevia can enhance glucose tolerance and improve metabolic syndrome. This makes it ideal for people with insulin resistance and diabetes. It is readily available these days.
A common complaint about Stevia is that it has a bitter aftertaste. I have not noticed this myself; however, as many people do, you’ll often find it mixed with other sweeteners or sugar alcohols.
Just like monk fruit, (read more below) Stevia can also cause caloric dysregulation, so moderation is key.
Monk fruit (also known as luo han guo)
Chinese monk fruit has an extract that’s naturally sweet but doesn’t impact your blood sugar levels.
In addition, recent studies also show that special antioxidants in monk fruit extract offer anti-inflammatory benefits and can help prevent cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Before you jump on this bandwagon, a word of caution! Overusing monk fruit (or any sweetener, for that matter) can cause something called “caloric dysregulation.” What’s that and how does it work?
Your brain knows that sweet foods equal calories and, under normal circumstances, knows how to limit them. It has a built in sensor. But if you eat something repeatedly that tastes extremely sweet – in monk fruit’s case, we’re talking up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar – it can break your sensor. When that happens, your brain thinks it’s OK to gorge on super-sweet foods. THIS is trouble!
You may notice that monk fruit is commonly paired with other sweeteners. If the combination is with erythritol or stevia, it’s fine, Avoid dextrose or maltodextrin, which are made from corn. Corn is notorious for causing problems for people with food sensitivities.
Allulose or D-Psicose
Plant-based allulose is the “latest and greatest.” It is classified as a “rare sugar” because it’s naturally present in only a few foods (jackfruit, figs and raisins and wheat). Early research shows that it can help regulate blood sugar and decrease the risk of type 2 diabetes, plus boost weight loss and reduce the risk of fatty liver disease. However, more long-term studies are needed to verify all of this. It has been on the market since 2015. It may turn out to be the best thing ever for regulating blood sugar.
Derived from plant sources, the most common sugar alcohols are erythritol, xylitol, and mannitol.
They got their name because their biochemical structure resembles a hybrid of a sugar and alcohol. Sugar alcohols actually have some calories. Because of this, they won’t trigger caloric dysregulation. In addition, since they can’t be fully digested by your body, they have little impact on your blood glucose. The drawback of this is that sugar alcohols can cause digestive discomfort in some people. That’s why it’s essential to be your own best health detective. The truth is that only you can figure out which sweeteners work best for your body.
A note about Erythritol . It is fermented from corn; however, it doesn’t contain the corn proteins. Therefore, it’s not an issue for those eating a corn-free diet because of food intolerances. However, if you have a true corn allergy (rather than a corn sensitivity), you should probably avoid it.
Glycine is an amino acid (the building block of protein). Research has shown that glycine can help reduce inflammation and improve immune function in diabetic subjects. This makes it an ideal sweetener to help stabilize blood sugar levels for people with insulin resistance and diabetes.
A Final Word: Remember that the ultimate goal is to eliminate sugar cravings by retraining your tastebuds to appreciate the natural flavors of food! So, the key to using sweeteners wisely is to consume them in moderation and phase them out.