The title should read . . .
Sugar vs artificial sweeteners . . . . which is worse!
It’s fair to say we ALL know sugar is bad for us, it is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity and cancer so many people think switching to artificial sweeteners instead is a positive move for their health . . . . I’m afraid it really isn’t!
Sugar (sucrose) is made up from glucose and fructose and is extracted and refined from sugar cane or sugar beet, but artificial sweeteners are produced in factories using synthetic chemicals.
Many of these chemicals have been linked to various health issues in studies (73 have raised concern in aspartame alone) but to get a chemical or ingredient removed from market is MUCH harder than getting a new chemical or ingredient to market as bad as that sounds!
For example 73 studies have linked a VERY common sweetener/chemical aspartame to various health issues but in an analysis looking for possible harm ALL 73 studies were deemed unreliable but out of the 81 studies that did not indicate any possible harm, 62 were deemed to be reliable and only 19 unreliable!! REALLY!!? Even with limited scientific knowledge this sounds a bit suspect doesn’t it! 73 studies are ALL unreliable? This is the absolute definition of cherry picking studies to suit an agenda or ideology . . . . ‘if we scrap all of these negative studies and only look at the positive ones hey all the problems disappear’ . . . NO SHIT!
This paper questions their analysis and raises various conflicts of interest on the panel but highlights why just because an additive/chemical continues to be added to food products doesn’t automatically mean it is safe for us to consume, and we should suspect the safety of every chemical in our food that isn’t of a natural origin!
Aspartame is found in a lot of ‘no added sugar’ products such as diet coke, sugar free gum etc but has mountains of research suggesting it causes various health issues (links at end of blog post).
But don’t single out aspartame as the only bad guy and assume every ‘no added sugar’ product that doesn’t contain it is safe because all manufacturers do is switch to another chemical that doesn’t have bad press surrounding it like Acesulfame K which is just as bad and they use that for the next 10 years until enough mountains of research and bad press suffocate the production of that chemical which seems to be how the merry go around of addictive additives and chemicals in food seems to go.
Kind of like the latest public enemy number 1 chemical BPA which is contained in many plastic products that cause various hormone and health issues so now the latest plastic bottle marketing is all about being ‘BPA free’ but guess what . . . . the chemical(s) they use instead are JUST AS BAD, but it will take another 10 years for the research of concern to gather enough data by which time they will have a patented replacement ready to switch to .
But anyway I’ve gone off on a tangent here, the main message here is ALL sweeteners, additives and chemicals should be considered as damaging to our health! Don’t trust that government bodies and panels elected to prove chemical’s safety in food have OUR best interests at heart . . . . they don’t!! They have corporation’s and industry’s best interests at heart because that is often who is paying their wages and funding their next election campaign! Thankfully we do have slightly stricter safety guidelines in Europe than America but it still has a long way to go. Hopefully now the UK has left the EU we will continue to follow the EU’s food safety guidelines and not the US’s but only time will tell.
Why Do They Do It?
The first thing to understand is why do manufacturers add these chemicals and sweeteners to products in the first place?
A food manufacturer’s one and only goal is to generate as much profit as possible for their investors!
As horrible as it sounds they really don’t care about our health, our children’s health, our environment or if we develop cancer over the next 30 years. They know it will be hard to prove that their product caused it, and they can just shrug it off as ‘we just followed the FDA or EU safety guidelines’ and can normally wriggle out of any legal issues.
So for a food manufacturing company that is only interested in generating as much profit as possible how are they going to keep us coming back for more?
They want to make their products as addictive as possible!
If they could legally put crack cocaine or heroin in their products they would! But they can’t so what are the next best things? Anything that is cheap, tastes good and creates a craving for more without us feeling full (which means we stop eating).
Have you ever opened a packet of biscuits, doughnuts or crisps and just absolutely destroyed the lot in about 10 minutes and thought HOLY SHIT that isn’t good!?
Or wondered how you can eat about 3 large meals in Mcdonalds before you feel full or satisfied? Only to be followed by a horrible low, come down type feeling?
That isn’t just food guilt, that is a legitimate come down off having your dopamine receptors battered like a drug addict does after their hit.
They are also calorie dense but fibre and nutrient deficient, so you can eat a LOT of calories before feeling full.
The sugar, salt and oil create that addictive craving feeling where once you pop the can of Pringles you can’t put the can back down again. They even market the fact their product is addictive ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ . . . yeh no shit because they are full of sweeteners (maltodextrin is just another type of sugar/sweetener), salt and ‘flavour enhancers’ all of which are just synthetic chemicals designed to target our dopamine receptors to create an addiction and momentary high (which is basically what cocaine does too so you could argue these are just legalised cocaine).
There are literally teams of scientists and researchers in these large corporations whose sole job is to increase the addictiveness of their products by using these synthetic chemicals and a million other names or derivatives of sugar to confuse the consumer so that they can even market the product as ‘sugar free’ and get a green traffic light on it, it is absolutely scandalous. When we think these products are often then marketed and targeted towards children this brings in such a dark undertone to the industry where a severe lack of ethics and morals come into question.
This also opens up an even bigger question of overweight and obese people actually having a full on food addiction, that there is currently no help or support for because everybody thinks ‘they should just eat less food’.
Imagine sprinkling cocaine onto 70% of food products + adding a green light and clever marketing and labels to say ‘no cocaine’ + labelling it under a million other names to confuse consumers and then blaming the individual for developing a drug problem, when they have been unknowingly consuming hidden cocaine in products since they were 5 years old!!! And the best idea the government can come up with for reversing all these years of misinformation and negligence is to add a cocaine tax to the products that contain it!!!! Is that for all of the 100 different names and types of cocaine or just for when it is used in its pure form? Because as with the traffic light system failure manufacturers will just use a different type of sugar they can get around the tax with, so it’s a complete waste of time and energy unless it is regulated properly! It is like an underground unregulated sugar market where manufacturers can just add and do whatever they like under different names. When one chemical composition gets rumbled or regulated they just switch to another disguise and carry on the operation.
What Can We Do?
I know what you are thinking . . .
OK I hear you . . . sugar is bad . . . . sweeteners are bad (possibly worse) but what can I do? I have kids that have to eat and most of this stuff is in EVERYTHING!!!?
- The first thing is to just start reading ingredient labels and look out for sugar, sweeteners, syrups, flavour enhancers, anything that ends in ‘ose’ or the names of chemicals and things you either can’t read or can’t pronounce (that is usually a good indicator it was created in a laboratory rather than grown in a field).
- Don’t automatically assume a product that is labelled as ‘sugar free’ or ‘no added sugar’ is healthy as this is often just clever marketing tactics where they do the old ‘switcheroo’ and just swop the word sugar for a different type of sugar or sweetener. They also do this to add even further confusion so that they can put a green traffic light on to say low or zero sugar but still make it as sweet and addictive as possible to lure unsuspecting children (and adults) back for more creating food addictions (how is this even legal).
- Try to make food from scratch rather than buying pre-packaged foods as these are the main culprits for these added chemicals.
- Use nature’s natural taste enhancers like adding fruit or dried fruit to meals. E.g you can use banana, blueberries and raisins on oats or in bread rather than sugar. Pure apple sauce (without added sugar) is great in baking or even in meals like stir fries or added to sauces. Dates can go in literally ANYTHING haha, just blend them up into sauces, add to cakes, smoothies, probably soups (not tried that yet though but I’m sure would work fine).
- Use herbs and spices in meals to flavour the dish rather than just sweetening them with sugary sauces or salt.
It takes a while for your taste buds to return to normal believe me. They have been hijacked to a point where anything unsalted or unsweetened just tastes bland and boring but after just a few weeks, a piece of fruit, a date or raisin will start to taste as sweet as sugar, and a glass of coke will taste like it is literally melting your teeth . . . because it is haha!
It is really important to lower our consumption and addiction to sugar and sweeteners especially children’s. Childhood obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancers are all growing exponentially and it has everything to do with what they are eating and drinking.
If you think how big our body is compared to a bottle of coke, a chocolate bar or biscuit etc and then think of the size difference when that same bottle of coke, biscuit or chocolate bar is given to a 5 or 10 year old it isn’t then hard to imagine what a dramatic effect that amount of sugar is going to have on such a tiny body, and then how much more of an addiction that is going to lead to.
Here is just a small shred of research on sugar, aspartame and various health issues relating to added sweeteners.
‘In this large cohort study, artificial sweeteners (especially aspartame and acesulfame-K), which are used in many food and beverage brands worldwide, were associated with increased cancer risk.’
‘Total sugar intake was associated with higher overall cancer risk’
‘Aspartame is suspected of causing neurological and behavioural disorders in humans. It causes neuropsychiatric reactions such as headache, convulsions and depression’
‘Aspartame also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system by causing an increase in cortisol steroid levels’
‘Aspartame is also responsible for causing mental stress’
‘Studies suggest that aspartame and its metabolites increase the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinsonism, multiple sclerosis and brain tumours’
‘Aspartame consumption can cause mood disorders, mental stress, and depression. Maternal absorption of aspartame during pregnancy correlates with autism in children. Long-term aspartame use influences the cerebral and cerebellar cortex: it can cause neurodegeneration, modify the functions of neuronal cells, interrupt homeostasis, learning and memory’
‘One of the first and most serious allegations against aspartame consumption was its carcinogenic effect on the body; which has been attributed to its breakdown to harmful formaldehyde, with carcinogenic potential . Consumption of 1 L of diet soda results in the transformation of approximately 600 mg of aspartame into 60 mg of formaldehyde [136,137,138], which greatly exceeds the ADI (0.15 mg of formaldehyde for every kg of body weight).’
‘In addition, in men, higher ADH activity, involved in the metabolism of aspartame, increased the risk of NHL and multiple myeloma. These findings support the opinion that aspartame is connected with elevated risk of NHL and multiple myeloma in men and with the increased risk of leukemia for males and females’
Nothing contained in this blog or on our social media channels should be considered medical advice or replace the advice of your doctor or health practitioner. Always consult your doctor before making any extreme changes to your diet and lifestyle especially if you are currently in ill health or on medications. Some diet and lifestyle interventions work SO well that diabetes and heart disease patients may have to reduce and even come off their meds completely so it is important to only do this under supervision from your doctor, or your current medication doses could become too high and cause you severe side effects.