Not So Sweet!
5 sweeteners to watch out for.
Published: August 11, 2012
by Jorge Cruise
Find better solutions to cure belly fat.
You maY be thinking that the solution to belly fat is to use alternative sweeteners, right? Nope. There are five sweeteners that I suggest you watch out for: saccharin (pink packets), aspartame (blue packets), sucralose (yellow packets), high fructose corn syrup, and agave nectar. The first three are known as excitotoxins, which contain neurotransmitters that “overexcite” neurons in the brain, causing degeneration and even death in these critically important nerve cells. I avoid these as much as possible and suggest you do the same. Here’s more on these alternative sweeteners, along with two others I recommend you avoid:
Saccharin is the oldest sugar substitute around; you probably know it as Sweet’N Low. It was discovered by a chemist in 1879 and became a popular additive in the 20th century. As early as 1911, though, there was already an effort being made to ban it due to the potentially unhealthy effects. Controversy continued to follow saccharin, especially in the 1970s when research published in Science linked it to bladder cancer in animals. Again, there was an attempt to have it banned, but instead products were required by law to post a label stating that saccharin caused cancer in laboratory animals (you probably remember seeing it on the side of popular sodas like Tab). Even though the ban has since been removed, scientists from places such as the University of Illinois and Boston University have requested that saccharin be labeled a carcinogen once again, stating that there is “ample evidence” to suggest that it’s cancer causing. I don’t know about you, but if something has proven to cause cancer in any living being, I don’t want it in my body! It’s not a risk I’m willing to take, which is why I avoid saccharin.
Aspartame was also discovered by a chemist; you probably know it as Equal and NutraSweet. It’s found in thousands of food and drink products, namely diet sodas. Studies have shown that it can cause imbalances in your brain, affecting your nervous system, your moods, and even your quality of sleep. A study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found a connection between aspartame consumption and seizures. Additionally, researchers from Washington University Medical School questioned the rise in malignant brain tumors during the years after aspartame was introduced.
Sucralose is found in more than 4,500 products on the supermarket shelves, such as Splenda. Also discovered by chemists, this sugar alternative is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Scientists at Duke University recently revealed that commonly consumed amounts of sucralose reduce the amount of “good” gut bacteria by 50 percent. Gut bacteria are essential for promoting a healthy digestive system and regular bowel movements, which help you get rid of false belly fat. Sucralose also produced significant weight gain in the study. Beyond this research, sucralose contains chlorine, which as you know is used to sanitize pools and is certainly not something you want to ingest. Manufactured chlorine compounds, like the ones used in Splenda, can cause damage to your organs and reproduction functions.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is something you’ve probably heard is bad for you, but you might be confused about why it’s so bad. All simple sugars that enter the bloodstream can cause a rapid increase in blood sugar, but fructose has a specific effect on your body—and it’s not a good one. Fructose has also been linked to leptin resistance, kidney stones, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and heart disease. When you consume fructose, it goes directly to your liver and gets processed into fatty deposits, which can lead to fatty liver disease—which is only typically seen in alcoholics. This fat also filters into your blood and fills your veins with fatty blood, otherwise known as high cholesterol. Since the introduction of HFCS into mainstream foods in the ’70s, the American obesity epidemic has skyrocketed. If you track the rise in obesity and the rise in consumption of HFCS, you’ll see almost a direct parallel. To make matters worse, high fructose corn syrup has invaded nearly all types of food—you can find it in breads, sodas, juices, pastas, baking ingredients, cookies, ice cream, sauces, salad dressings, jellies . . . just about everything. According to the USDA, the availability of HFCS has increased 10,673 percent since 1970 (yes, you read that number right).
Agave nectar is a sweetener made from the agave plant, a common succulent found in Mexico. It’s a bit like honey, but thinner. It’s been labeled a healthy sweetener and said to be good for diabetics and “100 percent natural.” But here’s why it’s landed on my list of wrong sugars: it is actually highly processed and has even more fructose in it than high fructose corn syrup—agave nectar can be up to 90 percent fructose. According to Dr. Ingrid Kohlstadt, a fellow of the American College of Nutrition, “It’s almost all fructose, highly processed sugar with great marketing.” And Dr. Joseph Mercola, author of Sweet Deception: Why Splenda®, NutraSweet®, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health, says that “agave nectar is neither a natural food nor organic.” Don’t believe the hype and the labels that claim this to be a “healthy” alternative to sugar. It will actually trigger the same responses as white sugar and high fructose corn syrup. I recommend avoiding it entirely—my personal doctor believes that it’s worse than any other sweetener available!
Jorge Cruise is the author of 4 consecutive New York Times best-selling series, with more than 5 million books in print in over 15 languages.