This entry was posted on Thursday, February 9th, 2012

As a nation our ‘sweet tooth’ has become almost insatiable. Sweeteners, both chemical and natural, are added to vast numbers of food products, drugs and even the vitamins that we regularly ingest. Let’s look at two common sugar substitutes.

Aspartame (Equal or Nutrasweet) has been used as a sugar substitute for approximately 30 years now. It is the most commonly used sugar substitute and is found in most diet sodas and more than 6,000 food items. Aspartame is added to many food items that we might not expect to find it in. Items such as chewing gum, yogurt and a vast variety of snack foods may contain this artificial sweetener. There are more complaints of adverse reactions to aspartame reported to the US Food and Drug Administration than any other food additive. Despite the volume of reported adverse reactions, some of which are severe, aspartame continues to be added at an alarming rate to many foods. There is evidence that aspartate released from aspartame and aspartame itself can cross a compromised or underdeveloped blood brain barrier and adversely affect the brain.

Agave has more recently been introduced as a healthy sugar substitute. It is presented as healthy because it is obtained from a plant source and is therefore a ‘natural’ sweetener. Agave, once processed, has a high fructose content much like high fructose corn syrup. While both corn and agave are natural foods the syrup sweeteners derived from them have a high fructose content and therefore have the potential to promote health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, increased triglycerides, decreased glucose tolerance, diabetes and uric acid formation. Sugars as well as other ‘natural’ sugar substitutes are not healthy just because they are natural.

Labels need to be regularly read to ascertain what additives are in the products we eat. Eating chemically created items, including aspartame, is generally not a healthy idea. Eating more fresh foods, in their natural state, should be a goal if we wish to maintain better health throughout our lifetime. Reducing the sugar and artificial sweeteners we eat should also be health goal.

It is important that we eat more whole fresh foods and fewer processed chemical laden foods if we wish to attempt to avoid and decrease the severity of many of the illnesses we currently see rising rapidly such as type 2 diabetes.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog is for general discussion and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be used for the diagnoses or treatment of any disease or condition. It should not serve as a substitute for being evaluated by a certified health care provider. Any information or product discussed on this blog is not a substitute for the care of your physician or other health care provider.