I want to continue talking about artificial sugar and why this may not be a healthier option over natural or even added sugars found in food. In my last blog we discussed added sugar and how to find and stay away from these sugars. If you missed it check out my blog here:
Artificial sweeteners have been a part of society for a long time now, and have made their way into the “healthy food” category by providing a way for people to avoid added sugar in their diet. For the most part, artificial sweeteners have no negative effect on our body and consumption in moderation is just fine. Just like everything else in life, moderation is key. It is when we start to replace all real sugar, natural and added, that we start to get ourselves in trouble with artificial sweeteners. As the name suggests artificial sweeteners are a processed food item intended to sweeten foods but not add any calories to your diet like regular sugar would. When we consume these sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet and Low, or Nutrasweet, we are confusing our body by having a natural response to tasting something sweet and expecting a spike in glucose (simplest form of sugar) in the body which is our main source of energy. A long term response to this is our body craving more sugar more often because it is not getting the right amount of energy it needs from what the brain is expecting. This can lead to us eating even more processed foods, added sugar, and artificial sweeteners. Long term effects may even change our chemical makeup in our body to how we process and respond to sugar digestion. It is even recommended to consume natural sugar over an alternative artificial sweetener because it will keep our body running normally and decrease those sugar cravings. If you are going to splurge and have a yummy treat go for the real thing with real sugar to keep our body responses normal.
The next topic that goes along with our added and artificial sweeteners is trans fats. The food industry does everything it can to hide trans fats from us as these are the worst fats to consume. We have two main forms of cholesterol, LDL (the bad cholesterol) and HDL (the good cholesterol). LDL creates blockages in the arteries and buildup in our liver. HDL helps process and dispose of LDL. Trans fat increases our LDL and decreases our HDL and is recommended we limit our consumption to practically none if we can.
When we start to have high cholesterol (meaning high LDL levels) we can experience fatty liver build up, overworked kidneys, buildup of plaque in the arteries and heart, increased fat/weight gain. These outcomes can lead to failed liver and kidney functions, heart attacks, chronic pain and inflammation. SCARY!
Naturally occurring fats serve an important role in our bodies. When we eat healthy fats found in whole foods the fat molecule will bind to receptors on our cells and actually serve a very important function. When the fat binds to the cell it acts as a conduit for other nutrients that need to enter the cell. For example, glucose needs to be processed into energy INSIDE of our cells and require this fatty conduit to allow it into the cell. Without it the glucose will build up outside of the cell in the blood and cause blood sugar spikes eventually leading to diabetes.
It will fit but then it gets stuck and may even break off causing damage to the lock. When this happens all of the important biochemical reactions that need to occur inside our cells get disrupted including how sugars can’t get through the cell the way that they should. When we create a chronic situation by eating too many trans fats this will lead to diabetes. Who knew that eating too much trans fat will actually lead to a sugar related disease?
Are you surprised by how artificial sugars and trans fats are related in how they can impact your health? This is precisely why we need to focus on eating whole foods, just the way mother nature intended. When we stray towards these manufactured food products it creates a lot of confusion in our bodies and disrupts the delicate balance of how everything works.
Now I’m not saying that we need to completely eliminate these foods from our diet. We should still enjoy these foods when we do eat them and limit them to an occasional treat. The occasional time to consume these foods are usually going to be found during holidays, celebrations, birthdays, weddings, you name it. The more you can cut these foods out of your everyday diet the better you will feel and the healthier you will be.
Your body and brain will thank you for years to come if we start to treat it right now. It's never too late to make new healthy habits and break away from the bad. We will always slip up from time to time but having those good habits to fall back on will be what helps carry us through. We want to move, feel, and think better everyday instead of going into the decline of bad health.
References: The Science of Skinny, Dee McCaffrey
Images: DrPeterOsborne.com, ibslbiology.wordpress.com
Hi! My name is Allison Hopkins and I am the owner of Wilcox Wellness & Fitness in Brunswick, ME. I am excited to bring WILCOX to Brunswick and share in my passion for living a great life through health and fitness.