Sweetening the Pot on Artificial Sweeteners

artificial sweeteners

If you’re like me, and your dieting, working out, trying yoga, and even a little meditation, all in the name of living a healthy lifestyle – you just might be doing a few things that are keeping you from being as healthy as possible. Sure, we do our best to eat right, and in the right quantities. We’re mindful of trans-fats, too many of the wrong kinds of carbs that get converted to fast, fat-making sugars, once they are metabolized. I’m starting to think about food allergies and artificial sweeteners in my diet and considering whether or not they’re safe?

Yeah, I’m trying to lose weight, but at 40 and after two kids, I mostly want to stay as healthy as possible. I like how I look. That’s important, to just accept your appearance and strive to feel healthy. However, I do have some younger friends, and I’d like to stay as active as some of the 30-something girls that I hang out with, not to mention that I’d love to lead that pack and finish an upcoming half-marathon.

My Love Affair with Artificial Sweeteners

I’m also a sucker for lots of foods that aren’t as healthy as I’d like them to be. First on that list of troublesome foods are artificial sweeteners, and there are a lot of them. I’m a sucker for diet coke, and I need a fix every day about as much as a lawyer, or a banker needs coffee or golf. I know that one of the worst offenders is NutraSweet (aspartame). I’m even scared to Google it, fearing that all paths will eventually lead to cancer, but what I know is that there are lots of health-related side effects. The last time that I dared to count them up, there were more than 80 known health-related side effects from aspartame including psychological disorders, diabetes, birth defects, and even seizures.

The Switch to Stevia

Who needs a seizure, it’s so unfair. I’m trying to switch to Stevia, which is a herb grown in Brazil and Paraguay and has been used as a sweetener in South America for quite a long time. The extract in Stevia, Rebaudioside A (Reb A) is about 200 times as sweet as sugar and does not seem to raise blood sugar levels. These are highly purified extracts are considered safe. Read the research. There are over 300 studies on Stevia and very few about potential negative side-effects.

What can You Sweeten with Stevia?

You can use Stevia or other derivative sweeteners in just about anything – cookies, and cakes, and even cocktails. Personally, I’m just using it in coffee. However, there’s a granularized version with a conversion rate for replacing sugar in baking and I’m going to consider using it in homemade bread.

Raw Honey is a Good Sweetener Alternative

It won’t give you the calorie relief, but there are many health benefits of raw honey. It contains natural antioxidants and amino acids which aid healing. Sugars in honey are released more slowly than other kinds of sugars which are easier on your body’s release of insulin, and a more stable blood sugar. People who switch to honey as a natural sweeter claim that they are losing weight.

It’s good to get the skinny (no pun intended) on the potential risks and side effects of the thousands of chemicals and processed foods we ingest. While you’re working out and working on getting healthy, take a moment to do some extra research, and consider the scientific viability of some of your sources of information. If you’re worried about processed foods, eat an organic apple.