The Truth About Alternative Sweeteners from a Doctor

The Truth About Alternative Sweeteners from a Doctor-2 Hi! I’m Dr. Pragati Gusmano, I’m a Naturopathic Doctor and an expert on natural health and holistic

medicine. As you all know, Brittany lives a sugar free lifestyle so I’m here share some helpful

information on sugar, sugar substitutes and how it all breaks down in your body. You can find more

from me on my blog, Simple Medicine; it’s where you'll find delicious and nutritious ways to eat,

beauty DIYs, and simple ways to be happy and healthy, naturally. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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Ever notice how all the freshest foods are on the perimeter of the supermarket? Chances are if you’ve

ever shopped those center aisles you’ve been duped into eating something with hidden sugar in it. So

many processed, low fat, fat free foods are loaded with sugar to improve the taste. The reason? Fat free

and low fat foods don’t taste good to the standard American and sugar improves the palatability.


On the flip side of that, many Americans are trying to limit their sugar intake by

substituting sugar with artificial sweeteners. The sad truth? You’re doing just as much harm with the

artificial stuff. Here’s a breakdown of what you need to know about the most popular sweeteners on the


 1. Table Sugar (also known as Sucrose)

Table sugar is what we’re most familiar with. It’s made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose and is

sourced from beet sugar or sugar cane. When you eat table sugar, it’s used in one of three ways: as fuel

for your brain and red blood cells, stored as glycogen in your liver and muscles (to be used later) or it

can be converted to fatty acids that are stored in fat.


When you’re in a situation where you chronically have too much sugar, muscle and fat cells stop using

as much of it for energy and you store it as fat. If you continue to overload your body with sugar, you’ll

stop having the ability to produce insulin and this can lead to chronic health conditions like diabetes or

metabolic syndrome.  


2. Turbinado Sugar (also known as Sugar in the Raw)

I know a lot of people look at raw turbinado sugar as the safer alternative to her sister, white

table sugar. That is a false assumption. Turbinado is pure sugar cane extract, which makes it 50%

fructose and 50% glucose, just like table sugar. It has the same effects on blood sugar mentioned above.


3. Stevia

Stevia comes from a plant and is super, super sweet. It’s 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar so

you only needs a tiny bit to make whatever you’re eating/drinking sweet. Stevia bypasses normal

absorption, it is metabolized in the gut and heads straight to the liver; this means it doesn’t

affect blood sugar levels. There are some reports that stevia can cause an upset stomach and/or burden

the kidneys because of the way it is excreted. Processed stevia can contain excipients, so look for a pure

form that doesn’t contain bulking ingredients like: dextrose, FOS (fructooligosacharides), erythritol,

xylitol, maltodextrine, lactose or combination of these ingredients.


4. Sucralose (also known as Splenda)

Sucralose is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. This is my least favorite sweetener, ever. In fact, it’s at

the top of my list of things that I won’t eat. A study published in 2008 found that 12 weeks of using

Splenda resulted in a reduction in good gut bacteria, which other studies have found can be related to

metabolic disorders. Have you seen the giant baking sized bags of Splenda? Also a terrible idea.

Cooking with sucralose at high temperatures was shown to produce toxic compounds. More importantly, artificial sweeteners like sucralose interact with receptors on the tongue, letting the body know you’ve eaten something sweet and preliminary research shows that this can cause a blood sugar-insulin roller coaster that certainly isn’t good for you.


5. Honey

Honey is quite possibly the most well known alternative sweetener. It’s a mix of fructose and glucose:

about 38% fructose to 31% glucose. It also has several vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins,

amino acids, proteins, antioxidants, enzymes and micronutrients. Generally, the sugars in honey are

sweeter that artificial sweeteners. Honey also has a mix of monosaccharides, disaccharides and

trisaccharides which gives you fast and slow burning sugars.


One study found that honey reduced blood glucose or was more tolerable that most common sugars or sweeteners in patients with impaired glucose tolerance.


When it comes to the sweet stuff there are lots of options – choose the one that is right for you and

your lifestyle. My favorites? Honey or Stevia. Honey, for it’s taste and medicinal properties and Stevia

because it doesn’t spike your blood sugar.


I know Brittany's choice throughout the past year of living sugar free has been to use honey. On occasion, for making specialty desserts, etc, she has chosen to use some Stevia.

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Are you living a sugar free lifestyle? Are you feeling ready to kick the artificial stuff for good?