Sugar and artificial sweetener’s
There are two types of sugar:
- Natural sugar in milk and fruit.
- Table sugar and concentrated sources like fruit juice.
It’s easy to know how much sugar you are consuming when you add it to your food or bake with it, but what about the increasing level of sugar that manufacturers are adding to food, even savory foods? We are now faced with labels showing terms that we may not associate with sugar.
The following list gives the titles of some types of sugar:
- Agave nectar
- Anhydrous dextrose
- Barley malt
- Beet sugar
- Blackstrap molasses
- Brown rice syrup
- Brown sugar
- Cane crystals
- Cane sugar
- Coconut palm sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Corn syrup solids
- Crystalline Fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Fruit nectars
- Grape sugar
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Pancake syrup
- Powdered sugar
- Rice sugar
There are a bewildering number of artificial sweeteners available and they are also showing up in processed foods, sometimes labelled ‘natural sweetener’. As they are all highly processed, the term ‘natural’ isn’t accurate. It was thought that artificial sweeteners gave the sweetness of sugar and just passed through the body without any impact, but emerging studies are showing otherwise. Recent studies demonstrated that consuming artificial sweeteners contribute to insulin resistance and diabetes. Artificial sweeteners trigger receptors on our tongue to signal that carbohydrates have been injected which triggers insulin production. When sweeteners are digested, they don’t produce any carbohydrates, but at this stage insulin has already been released. It isn’t fully understood whether sweet taste receptors can distinguish between sugar and artificial sweeteners. It is likely that it differs from person to person and the ability to distinguish one from the other may diminish with age.
Here is a list of some artificial sweeteners:
- Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
- Luo Han Guo fruit extracts
- Steviol glycosides
You will find some of the names above on many food labels and some foods contain several different types of sugar and artificial sweetener, which is a bit deceptive (you many only recognise one or two). I find that eating foods with artificial additives interferes elevates my blood sugar even though they are regarded as ‘sugar free’.
I find regular table sugar or honey, used in baking etc. responds as expected to insulin but that other types don’t always give the expected results. I use the rule of thumb that the shorter the ingredient list the better and buying single ingredients is best.
If I need sweetener in a recipe, I use regular sugar or honey. I reduce the amount of sugar where possible and use butter and nuts which slow down the absorption rate of the sugar.
Here are a few ideas on reducing the amount of sugar in your diet:
- Replace sugar loaded yogurt with probiotic or natural yogurt. Add berries or nuts and seeds if liked.
- Sprinkle cinnamon on porridge and hot milky drinks instead of sugar.
- Replace sugary or artificially sweetened fizzy drinks with sparkling water and a slice of fruit or some herbs.
- Many brands of ready made meals contain added sugar. Replace those with with homemade as often as possible. You can make enough for 2 meals and freeze one for another day.
- Bake instead of buying processed baked goods. There are lots of healthy recipes with only a small amount of sugar and lots of fibre or protein which slows down the absorption of the sugar.
- Eating protein and a small amount of healthy fat at every meal helps to reduce sugar cravings.