Dr. Sonya Nobbe, ND
Are sugar alternatives safe? Most of us are aware of the negative health consequences of sugar, but what about their chemical replacements in the variety of “sugar-free” food choices? A recent study by Washington University researchers published in the journal Diabetes Care, suggests that ingestion of sucralose (Splenda) may increase insulin levels by up to 20%, thereby promoting diabetes and weight gain. Aspartame is another common sugar alternative with known health risks, such as migraines and seizures, when consumed in high quantities or by sensitive people. Fructose can cause a diabetes-like disease in the liver called “fatty liver”. The science that links both sugar and its replacements to chronic disease symptoms is quite extensive. Here are some practical tips to help you reduce these ingredients in your daily routine, without going on a diet!
1. Stevia is an herbal sugar replacement (i.e. not artificial) that is chemically dis-similar to sugar. This means that it’s metabolized safely by other mechanisms that don’t disturb normal sugar metabolism and weight management.
2. Add a bit of salt! Salt can actually enhance your perception of the sweetness of some dishes, and if you balance this with addition of high-potassium foods, the dish is far less likely to affect blood pressure. (See our article on blood pressure and salt, here.)
3. Enhance the natural sweetness