Sugar Substitutes: What are Their Benefits and Harms to The Body

A sweet tooth lives in each of us – this is how nature ordered. Once upon a time, sweets saved our ancestors’ lives, supplied weakened organisms with energy. The hard times are over, but the instinct remains. In an effort to satisfy our innate sugar cravings, we are increasingly incorporating fruits, sugar, and modern sweeteners into our diets. Can they be eaten and how it will affect the body – read in our article.

Over the past 25 years, the production of sugar substitutes has grown significantly. People have become interested in low-calorie sugary foods for various reasons. Who needs it?

First of all, diabetics suffer from the lack of delicious desserts, and sugar substitutes do not increase blood sugar levels and allow sweets to be eaten. Then, of course, those who dream of losing weight pay attention to sweeteners. It also concerns people who are not overweight and have health problems – they are simply pursued by the desire to eat right and take care of their body.

Let’s figure out what kind of sweeteners there are.

Organic products

Fructose is a real sugar found only in fruits and honey. Unlike glucose, it does not require insulin, does not destroy tooth enamel, and does not cause tooth decay. At the same time, fructose in some cases can provoke a deterioration in health in patients with diabetes. And the daily dose of fructose for healthy people should not exceed 50 g.

Sorbitol is also obtained from fruits, it is lower in calories and tastes less sweet than sugar. It has a diuretic and laxative effect, so moderate consumption of this product can even benefit the body.

A sugar substitute is also obtained from the leaves of stevia native to South America. Stevioside is 250 times sweeter than regular sugar and contains many beneficial substances.

Xylitol, obtained from strawberries, birch sap and raspberries, is used in the production of chewing gums because this substance perfectly protects tooth enamel. True, its use should be reduced to 30 g per day, otherwise the sweetener will harm the stomach.

Synthetic substances

Sugar substitute: what to expect

Sweeteners are synthetic substances that are created in laboratory conditions; they do not participate in metabolism at all. In this case, you must observe the daily dosage indicated on the package.

Saccharin is one of the most popular sugar substitutes. Nevertheless, it is not recommended for use by pregnant women, since laboratory tests as early as the mid-70s revealed its carcinogenic effect on the body. Also, doctors do not advise the use of saccharin and people with kidney disease. Similar contraindications are noted for cyclomat, another well-known sweetener.

One of the most progressive and safest synthetic sweeteners is sucralose. Non-toxic and tasteless, it is produced from ordinary sucrose. The only drawback is the high price. But it’s not a pity for health, is it?

Since artificial sweeteners are produced synthetically, they have zero calories. They cannot be heat treated, otherwise the substances will decompose into separate chemical elements, the effect of which on the body is completely unpredictable.

How safe is it?

Sugar substitute: what to expect

Periodically, studies are conducted around the world with the assumption that sugar substitutes can leave a serious imprint on the health of the body and cause depression, abdominal pain, insomnia, and sometimes even anemia. Experimental results are always contradictory: sometimes the assumptions are correct, and sometimes they are not.

As far as the benefits are concerned, it is obvious if the sweetener is consumed in safe amounts. Glucose fills cells with energy, normalizes heart function, nourishes the brain and increases stress resistance. Sorbitol actively removes bile from the body, restores tooth enamel, relieves inflammation in the liver and kidneys, soothes the intestines and stomach, and removes toxins from the body. Xylitol is completely allowed for pregnant women, and it also strengthens bones, which is important for the elderly.

Can you lose weight?

Sugar substitute: what to expect

If you add zero-calorie sweetener to dessert or soda instead of regular sugar, the calorie content of the dish or drink, of course, will also decrease. Given this fact, it would be logical to assume that sugar substitutes can help you lose weight. But the opposite is true – long-term use of artificial sweeteners adversely affects metabolic parameters as well as body mass index.

Many sweet tooth, changing their usual sugar for an analogue, manage to get used to the sweetener and start using it in unreasonable quantities. Saccharin candies, stevia cookies – all of this is now being eaten in larger quantities than before. Realizing that we eat healthy foods without sugar, we want to reward ourselves, and the number of servings increases. It’s like allowing yourself a pie after a workout – it worked.

There is one more circumstance worth mentioning: because sweeteners are much sweeter than sugar, people stop feeling the true taste of food. Natural products – berries, cottage cheese or fruits – lose their attractiveness, as a result of which the quality of the daily diet decreases. Similar to sauces, sweeteners draw all the attention of the brain, and other foods start to lose.

As always, eating wisely is paramount. Sugar or its equivalent is not so important, moderate portions are much more important. Before giving preference to a particular sweetener, consult with a specialist about the possible consequences and acceptable doses for you. And for some, regular sugar will be enough if there are no more than 6 teaspoons a day and sometimes take breaks.