Happy Monday Everyone!
Today continues our series on sugar…
And today we’ll be talking about artificial sweeteners.
I am in Nashville this week (thank the Lord, because time with Coop has been missed), and there have now been 2 different incidents that have only confirmed the importance of today’s post.
First off, Coop and I went to Cracker Barrel the other day. He had been hearing a lot about it, but had yet to go. Once there, he definitely understood all the hype. As we sat and ordered our official first “sweat teas”, Coop reached for some artificial sweetener. I gave him a confused look and he said “What? I don’t want the calories in the sugar”… I responded with “I’d rather you be fat and healthy then thin and full of cancer”. And honestly, that’s how I feel about artificial sweeteners. I’m not alone in this artificial sweetener ideology, and mainly because there is science to back it up.
The second “faking it” offense came via a phone call I received. It was from a woman who was drinking about 8 cans of soda a day. She got concerned about her habit after reading an article in a magazine about artificial sweeteners causing formaldehyde poisoning within a human body. Although I cannot speak for the article (I’m not sure exactly what all it claimed), I can speak in a general way and claim that people still aren’t well informed about artificial sweeteners.
So let’s dive into this topic a bit today!
Let’s start by discussing the way in which artificial sweeteners are made.
Artificial sweeteners are made in a lab, and they are only a few chemical bonds away from being sugar. Although they taste like sugar, your body perceives them as a protein. However, even as a protein, your body still cant break them down because they aren’t chemically speaking a true protein. This is because when our brilliant bodies detect even the slightest chemical structure change, it will halt all digestion of the micro-nutrient at the effort to save our enzyme health.
Depending on the artificial sweeteners (yellow packet vs. blue packet vs. pink packet), your body halts this digestion at different points in our intestines. That is why you may hear someone say… I don’t use _____________ because it gives me heart burn. Or someone else claim that ______________ sweetener gives them indigestion. This is because the umbrella of artificial sweeteners is in fact a few very detailed chemistry experiments.
How then, do artificial sweeteners work?
Well, you see… artificial sweeteners are sweet, so when you need a sweet flavor in, oh I don’t know, your coffee, you use the pink packet stuff. Your taste buds get satisfied by the stuff in the pink packet and send messages to your brain that it was just given sugar. However the artificial sweeteners are close to, if not calorie free so they go through your body unidentified, and pass through without causing any caloric havoc on your system. Perfect, right?
You see, they picture I painted for you was fantastic except that there is more to the story then that. The rest of the story happens in your brain. Remember reading about those taste buds sending messages to your brain that you consumed sugar… well your brain does something with that false information. It makes insulin, ok well It itself doesn’t make insulin, but it sends messages to your pancreas, intestines, stomach and blood stream to make and even maintain insulin levels.
At least you won’t gain weight though… right? WRONG! When insulin is produced, it eventually makes you crave more sugar (or fake sugar) and it’s a terrible cycle that is misleading and counter productive.
So why then did your doctor (or you husbands/sisters/friends doctor) tell you to lay off sugar and use that _______ colored packet stuff? Because you should be laying off sugar and in the last 10 years about 20 different artificial sweeteners have been released onto the market without any long term affect studies available to make educated decisions off of.
Let me tell you a little story…
My dad, we’ll call him George (that’s not his real name, like most names on my blog are not real) is a type II diabetic. For years now, he has been a diet coke drinker. For years now he has also been taking diabetes medication. But guess what… despite those pills being a part of his daily routine, his sugar was often up in the 300’s. That number is 3x what it should be if you aren’t familiar with blood sugar levels and numbers. So, naturally, his doctor would put him on some more medication.
In last 6 months, for what ever reason… George decided he was going to stop drinking so much Diet Coke. Excuse me for a second as I publicly praise my dad for making this decision.
YAY GEORGE!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Seriously so proud of you. You just did something that I believe will give you a longer and better life. Your future grand children and I thank you as we would like you to be around for, well… forever!!!!!!!
Back to the story… so George now only drinks a diet coke once, maybe twice a month. Guess what happened… his blood sugar when tested last was about 120. Nothing else in his life has changed… he still considers pizza to be the perfect food, still has back issues that make exercising close to impossible, he is still taking his medication… so simply by observing habit, the conclusion is drawn that although artificial sweeteners have no caloric impact on a individuals health, they do reek havoc on your insulin and blood sugar levels.
Obviously, the point of this series is to bring attention to the impact sugar has on your health. One of the ways most people think you can cut sugar from your health is to use artificial sweeteners, but please reconsider this idea. Do some research on the subject if you don’t like what I have to say about it. Because, well… you know the saying, it is always better to be safe then sorry.
Here are a few links to check out if you would like to read a bit more about this subject.