There is a tendency for things in health to be made far more complicated than they need to be. Coupled with this is the tendency to look for answers in just about every place but the one where it lies. Rather than ask which sweeteners to use, (there is a “battle” raging about which one is best) so ask should I use sweeteners at all?
There has been much debate over the role of high fructose corn syrup in the development of obesity and diabetes. A study at University of California showed that consuming beverages with high fructose syrup increased the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood stream more than those sweetened with glucose thus linking it to an increase in risk of heart disease.
The study was small and preliminary. It seems that it is the amount of fructose, which is the key. Hence eating fruit, which contains fructose, is not a problem. This is because it is not concentrated, it is surrounded by fibre and we don’t consume huge amounts at a time. The form which we find in processed foods is a problem as it is concentrated, usually has no fibre around it and we eat more of it. This is even more of an issue if consumed often.
There have also been some questions raised about stevia the artificial sweetener derived from a South American shrub. When used as in leaf form in tea, coffee or cooking it is not a problem. Whilst it is “natural” as against aspartame and saccharin, if there are issues with it, they come from the processing.
The main problem with any sweetener, artificial or “natural” is that it can lead to obesity. The body associates sweetness with energy in the form of calories. When they don’t arrive you remain hungry. This is particularly the case with low calorie sweet drinks. Sweet taste with no calories will make people hungry and hence they eat. Sweeteners may also affect our natural gut “good” bacteria.
Here is the thing about any sweetener. There is no need for them. It is much better to have real sugar, preferably raw or organic, but just not that much of it. There is no need to drink zero calorie sweet beverages when the best zero calorie beverage is water. The answer to the issue of obesity is not to consume “low calorie” sweetened processed foods. It is to consume “real” food, which will give your body the energy, and nutrients it needs.
You wouldn’t dream of pulling up at the petrol (gasoline) station and deliberately put fuel unsuited to your car into the tank. So why would you put food not suited to your body into yourself.
Eat a diet based on real food – food that was until recently moving around or growing somewhere.
Food, which will have to be thrown out next week if not eaten.
Food, which has no numbers on the label.
Food, which your great, great grandparents would recognize as food.
When you do this the merits or problems of fructose, corn syrup or processed stevia becomes irrelevant. You will have the right fuel in your body and your health will be better for it.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.