You might be noticing a trend in the articles I’ve been writing lately. As you read my posts, you might be thinking, “Why does it seem like everything I thought was healthy isn’t?”
By now, you’ve likely read about my take on low-fat diets and limiting your fruit consumption. You’ve probably read my take on how the wrong kinds of chicken, beef, and seafood can mess with your health, too.
It’s not that everything is suddenly bad for you. It’s that the people behind food industry have convinced themselves they’ve got your best interests at heart … all while doing what they need to do for themselves – keeping their costs low and making bigger profits.
So today, let’s take a look at their response to one of the country’s biggest epidemics – America’s addiction to sugar.
Sugar addiction is a huge problem in this country. And sure, certain sectors of the food industry try to correct our shared nutritional problems. They’re trying to help reduce our sugar consumption. The problem is, they’ve come up with the wrong solutions.
For instance, they replace natural and processed sugar with synthetic products. They think sugar is the villain. So, they create a chemical substitute, like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame.
Problem solved, right? You’re sweetening your tea with zero-calorie aspartame. You’re no longer using sugar. The thing is, food developers have left out a major part of the equation – your body doesn’t know it’s not ingesting sugar!
So, they’re only creating another villain.
Turns out, synthetic solutions to sugar also alter your gut holobiome. They kill off your good gut bugs and allow the potential overgrowth of bad ones.
How do artificial sweeteners change your gut?
Well, for starters, once your bad gut bugs take over, you gain weight. It happens pretty quickly. The crazy thing is, products like Splenda and Sweet’N Low should help you lose weight. But they do the opposite.
Let me explain: sweeter flavors used to only be available during the summer months. You’d have to eat ripe fruit. Maybe you could score the occasional bit of honeycomb.
Tasting sweeter flavors sent your brain a signal – time to start storing fat for the winter!
But these days, you can find sweet foods ANY time the year, So, your body thinks you live in an endless summer – and starts storing up for winter whenever you eat that apple, those berries, even that diet coke!
But nobody ever told your body to turn off its craving for sugar.
Did you know your taste buds for sweetness actually make up ⅔ of the surface of your tongue?
So, you see, it’s not your fault you crave sweet treats. You’re designed to crave them. This was to ensure that when high-caloric fruit or honey was available, your ancient ancestors would eat it.
What Happens in Your Brain When You Eat Sugar
But, your taste buds don’t actually taste sugar. Instead, this is what happens:
When a sugary or sweet substance attaches to your tongue, your receptors taste sweetness. Then, your tongue’s nerves spring into action. They tell the pleasure receptors in your brain’s reward center to get more of this amazing food. Why? Because you’ll need it to survive when the season changes, and there isn’t any food around. Make sense?
But again, here’s the problem with artificial sweeteners…
Your body doesn’t know the sweetness it’s tasting isn’t coming from sugar!
Again, it’s not your fault. It’s just that the molecular structure of calorie-free sweeteners mimics sugar. It’s designed to send the same pleasure signal to your brain that real sugar prompts.
But, when the calories from real sugar don’t make it to your bloodstream (because you never ingested glucose to begin with), your brain feels cheated. Your brain thinks you are eating sugar, because it tasted sugar …
And it gets mad the sugar it was promised never arrived. So, what does your brain do? It tells your body to go back and get more sugar! And back to the pantry, or the refrigerator, you go.
I was addicted to Diet Coke for this very reason. (Check out my healthy soda recipe)
I consumed about eight Diet Cokes a day – they were practically glued to my hand. No wonder I was 70 pounds overweight. Research proves that instead of helping you to lose weight, nonnutritive sweeteners actually cause you to put more on instead.1
And recent studies suggest that artificial sweeteners can partially activate food reward pathways. Basically, these sweeteners do nothing for satiety, and they may contribute to increased appetite.2
Now, naturally a person seeks food to satisfy the inherent craving for sweetness, even in the absence of energy need. So artificial sweeteners encourage sugar dependence because they’re sweet.
When you keep ingesting artificial sweeteners, you do your body a huge disservice. This repeated exposure trains your flavor preference.4 So, the more sweet you eat, the more your body will want to repeat sweet – over and over again. “Un-sweetening” your diet may be the key to reversing the obesity epidemic.5
Swap Your Sweet
As a general rule, do your best to ditch the following sweeteners –
- Saccharin – Sweet’N Low, Sweet Twin, and Necta Sweet
- Aspartame – Equal and NutraSweet
- Acesulfame K – also in Equal and NutraSweet
- Sucralose – Splenda
Also, sports drinks and diet sodas are your enemy. That goes for any health or protein bar that contains the sweeteners listed above.
And remember, sugar comes in more forms than one. So, if you see corn syrup, agave syrup, or pure cane sugar listed on a label – ditch ‘em.
On occasion, you can use Stevia to sweeten your drinks and meals – or look for things like xylitol, monkfruit, yacon, or erythritol.