Sugar Substitutes Part I
Sugar Substitutes Part I
Sugar substitutes are food additives that try to replicate the taste of sweetness without the caloric density of sugar. Natural sweeteners include sucrose (also referred to as table sugar) found in beets and sugar canes and fructose which is found in fruits. These sugars seem to have evolved into the baseline sweetness that most people’s taste buds can sense.
One natural sugar substitute created by and found in nature is called stevia, which comes from the sunflowers species in the Americas and is known as sweetleaf, sugarleaf, or stevia. The main compound is called steviol glycoside and has three hundred times the sweetness of sugar. Because of its negligible caloric value and effect of blood glucose levels, many food companies have added stevia to foods and soft drinks. Recent studies of whole leaf stevia have shown that it improves insulin sensitivity in lab animals and has a renal and hepatic protective mechanism.1,2 Although stevia is a natural sweetener, because it is three hundred times sweeter, it may affect your taste buds, making you look for more sugar-laden foods.
Most of sugar substitutes are actually artificial. Saccharin, which is a sulfa-based chemical with the primary ingredient being sulfimide, was the first artificial sweetener discovered in
1879. Because it is three hundred to five hundred times sweeter than sugar, many food companies use it in low-calorie foods. It even appears in obscure areas, such as toothpaste. Many companies often use it with other sweeteners because it has a bitter aftertaste. In 1960, studies showed that high levels of saccharin might cause bladder cancer in lab animals. People with sulfa allergies may experience gastrointestinal issues, skin problems, or other allergy-related symptoms when consuming saccharin.
Aspartame was discovered in 1965 by a company that was later purchased by a major GMO manufacturer. Aspartame, which is derived from two amino acids, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine, is two hundred times as sweet as sugar, but it is not stable in high temperatures and cooking. According to SourceWatch, aspartame is metabolized into three toxic molecules: methanol, aspartic acid, and phenylalanine. Methanol metabolites cause central nervous system (CNS) depression, vision disturbances, and other disorders that lead to metabolic acidosis and coma. Aspartic acid, which is a precursor to another amino acid, glutamic acid that affects the nervous system, at high concentrations is a toxin that causes excitation of neurons. This excitation affects every nerve in the body causing numerous side effects including dizziness, nausea and palpitations. Phenylalanine at high levels can block the transport of important amino acids to the brain, lowering the levels of dopamine and serotonin. Aspartame may also be carcinogenic because its metabolite diketopiperazine can cause cancers in the CNS, such as gliomas, medulloblastomas, and meningiomas.3,4,5
Another artificial sweetener, sucralose is sugar with an added chlorine molecule that is six hundred times as sweet as sugar.
Sucralose is ubiquitous and used in a large variety of foods, including gum, baked goods, drinks, and ice cream. Three chlorine atoms substitute three hydroxy-oxygen groups, which convert table sugar into chlorinated sugar. After the conversion, the table sugar becomes a chlorocarbon, and chlorocarbons have a history of producing organ damage, gene mutations, and reproductive disturbances. According to NewSweet, other chemicals classified as chlorocarbons are DDT, chlordane, and the highly carcinogenic chloroethylene. All chlorocarbons have been banned in the United States except sucralose.6
Sugar alcohols are yet another type of artificial sweetener. They occur naturally, although most are produced artificially. The most famous ones are sorbitol and xylitol, which are found in nature, but it’s not commercially feasible to extract them, so they’re chemically produced. They aren’t as sweet as sugar and have a caloric value, so they’re not considered a diet food. Because the intestines don’t completely digest them, they contribute to severe bloating and gas. One exception is erythritol, which the body does completely absorb and then excrete in urine.
1. Anton, Stephen D.; Martin, Corby K.; “Effects of Stevia, Aspartame, and Sucrose on Food Intake, Satiety, and Postprandial Glucose and Insulin Levels.” Appetite 55 (1) (2010): 37–43.
2. Shivanna, Naveen; Naika, Mahadev; Khanum, Farhath; Kaul, Vijay. “Antioxidant, Anti-diabetic, and Renal Protective Properties of Stevia Rebaudiana.” Journal of Diabetes and Its Complications 27 (March 2013): 103–113.
3. Rycerz, Karol; Jaworska-Adamu, Jadwiga E. “Effects of Aspartame Metabolites on Astrocytes and Neurons.” Folia Neuropathol 51 (2013): 10–17.
4. “Is Aspartame Toxic?”, Jimmy Downs, Food Consumer.org, written May 11, 2013, accessed December 12, 2013).. http:// http://www.FoodConsumer.org.
4. “Aspartame” SourceWatch, last modified October 2013, last
accessed December 2013, http://www.sourcewatch.org/index. php/Aspartame
5. “What is Sucralose, And is it Dangerous?”, NewSweet, Last
Accessed December 12, 2013, http://www.newsweet.com/ sucralose.htm
Excerpt from “Dr Matt’s Plan Living Longer and Healthier” by Dr. Matt Ferenc
Soft cover available at www.drmattsplan.com
The information from Dr Matt’s Plan is not intended as a substitute for medical professional help or advice but is to be used only as an aid in understanding current medical knowledge.