Killer Sweeteners by Isabel De Los Rios – Certified Nutritionist
In my practice as a nutritionist and personal trainer, new
clients are always coming to me telling me they are doing
everything they are “supposed” to be doing, but still, do not
lose weight. Of course, this is frustrating. Losing weight is
hard enough, and to change your eating habits and still see no
results, that’s even more frustrating.
So why do these people not lose weight? If I had to pick the
most common reason why most people’s efforts have proved no
results, I would say it is the deception of artificial
sweeteners and processed diet foods. Yes, you heard right. It is
the diet coke, diet snacks, processed foods and artificial
sweetener in your coffee that is keeping you fat. So how is this
Artificial sweeteners overwhelm your liver
Your liver is your largest internal organ, and it’s responsible
for an astonishing variety of life-sustaining and
health-promoting tasks, including those that make healthy weight
loss and weight management possible. Integral to countless
metabolic processes, the liver supports the digestive system,
controls blood sugar and regulates fat storage. One of your
liver’s most important functions, and the most crucial to your
weight loss, is chemically breaking down everything that enters
your body, from healthy vegetables, to not so healthy fast food,
from healthy water to not so healthy soda.
It’s your liver’s job to distinguish between the nutrients you
need to absorb and the dangerous or unnecessary substances that
must be filtered out of your bloodstream. But when the liver is
clogged and overwhelmed with toxins, like artificial sweeteners,
it can’t do a very effective job of processing nutrients and
fats. If it can not process the nutrients and fats that your
body needs, this will cause you to gain weight or will prevent
you from losing weight. Your liver also produces bile, a crucial
substance for detoxifying our bodies.
It is the job of bile to help our bodies break down the fats we
need and to assimilate fat-soluble vitamins. But when our bile
becomes overly congested with the toxins it’s trying to filter
out, it simply can’t function properly. It becomes thick,
viscous and highly inefficient in breaking down fats. The
result: You are more likely to gain weight and to have a greater
difficulty losing it. So the more toxic your body becomes, the
more difficulty you’ll have losing weight and keeping it off
because your liver just can not work properly to break down fat.
Are artificial sweeteners considered a toxin?
So what qualifies something as a “toxin”? A toxin is anything
that your body does not recognize as a natural food source. The
reason why artificial sweeteners have “zero” calories is because
your body does not recognize them as a food source. For example,
the chemical process to make Splenda (sucralose) alters the
chemical composition of the sugar so much that it is somehow
converted to a completely different molecule than sugar. This
type of “fake” sugar molecule does not occur in nature and
therefore your body does not possess the ability to properly
metabolize it. This is how the makers of Splenda claim that it
has zero calories, because in theory it should not be digested
or metabolized by the body (Although it’s been shown that some
people’s body do absorb u.p to 15% of the artificial sweeteners
they ingest). So the more artificial sweeteners that you consume
in one day, the more you are overwhelming your liver with toxins
and the less able it is to do its job of processing fat.
And what happens if the liver can’t do its job? You can’t lose
weight or worse yet, you gain weight.
What if you don’t use artificial sweeteners? Don’t be fooled.
Almost every diet product on the market has some kind of
artificial sweetener added to it. Even some children’s snacks
are now being made with sucralose (Splenda) and most flavored
waters contain sucralose or aspartame.
Now add up how many things you eat in one day that contain some
form of artificial sweetener. The list may be very long. How
overwhelmed do you think your liver is? Does it have the ability
to work properly? Even if you keep your calories at bay and only
drink Diet Coke with your meals, will you truly get down to the
weight that you want, and stay there? It’s certainly been in my
experience that the answer is “no” and until you are ready to
commit yourself to a healthy way of eating, weight loss will
always be a constant struggle.
What else do sweeteners do? Sweeteners increase appetite
Artificial sweeteners tell your taste buds that, “sweet stuff
has arrived,” which to the brain means, “nutrition has arrived.”
When artificial sweetened drink or food reaches the small
intestine, the receptors find no nutrition. A message is then
sent back to the brain saying, “We’ve been tricked-there’s no
nutrition here.” The appestat (the part of your brain that
triggers satiety) sends the message to “keep eating because we
need nutrition to help process all this fake food and run your
body.” So even after you eat a good portioned healthy meal
(along with your diet coke) you still feel like your starving
all day, or you become very hungry soon after. Your healthy
eating efforts may be sabotaged if you continue to feel hungry
all day. No one likes to feel hungry so you continue to eat more
food until you feel satisfied, which in your effort to lose
weight, may just be too much.
Sweeteners increase our Sweet Tooth
Saccharin (Sweet n Low) is 300 times sweeter than sugar,
aspartame (Equal) is 200 times sweeter than sugar and sucralose
(splenda) is 600 times sweeter than sugar. Such sweeteners can
only increase our sweet tooth and increase our taste of sweet
things. If you can never get rid of your sugar cravings, any
healthy eating plan will be difficult because you will
constantly be craving “sweet”. Artificial sweeteners have also
shown to promote the same blood sugar fluctuations as regular
sugar, which, again will bring on “sugar lows” which will
i.ncrease appetite and cravings. This is not to say, that
something sweet now and again is not ok, but it is those people
who can not control their sugar cravings that are being
sabotaged by these artificial sweeteners.
What are some alternatives to sweeteners?
Giving up sugar and artificial sweeteners may be difficult,
especially if you are accustomed to everything having such a
sweet taste. A wonderful alternative to sugar and artificial
sweeteners is an herb called Stevia. Stevia is an
extraordinarily sweet herb, 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
Stevia is almost zero calories, so it is perfect for people who
are watching their weight. Unlike sugar, it does not trigger a
rise in blood sugar so you will not get a sudden burst of energy
followed by fatigue and a need for another “fix”. It increases
energy and aids digestion by stimulating the pancreas. Stevia
also presents great advantages over saccharine and other
artificial sweeteners in that it is not toxic. Stevia is a plant
that is found in nature and is not man-made in a laboratory.
Stevia can be found at almost all health food stores such as
Whole Foods, and is listed under the “supplement” section.
Stevia can be used exactly like sugar and artificial sweeteners
to sweeten drinks and it can even be used in baking.
If weight loss or staying away from sweets has always been a
problem for you, take notice of how much artificial sweetener
you have been ingesting. That just may be the culprit. Make a
resolution this year to give up the “fake” stuff and stick to
natural alternatives like Stevia. You will not only be helping
your weight loss efforts but you will also be benefiting your
health. If you or someone you know is addicted to sweet drinks
such as sodas or beverages sweetened with sugar or artificial
sweeteners, try this “Tea Juice” and you will see that weaning
yourself off sugar or sweeteners will be much easier.
-5-6 bags of any non-caffeine herbal tea of your choice (green
tea, peach tea, berry tea, orange zinger, lemon, etc.)
-3 quarts water
-Stevia powder or liquid to taste
Boil tea bags in a large pot. Add 1-2 full teaspoons of stevia
while still hot. (You may add more or less, based on your
desired sweetness) Let tea cool and then transfer to the
refrigerator in Ice Tea pitchers or individual size water
This drink is a great replacement to Diet Coke or Diet Snapple.
Isabel De Los Rios – Certified Nutritionist
Here is some info from the website Food Renegade: (here is the link to the site to read the full article – http://www.foodrenegade.com/agave-nectar-good-or-bad/). In a recent article now posted on the Weston A. Price foundation’s website, Ramiel Nagel and Sally Fallon Morell write, Agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules. Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.
The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.
Some more info from the article on this site: In a different article, Rami Nagel quotes Russ Bianchi, managing director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc., a globally recognized food and beverage development company, on the similarities between agave nectar and high fructose corn syrup:
They are indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup.