Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sweeteners Which Are 'Sweet' For Your Health

Let's face facts...our taste buds crave it, our mouths water for it, even our guts yearn chuggishly for it. The 'it' I'm referring to, in case you haven't guessed, is sugar.

From the day we're born, we're programmed to enjoy the taste of anything sweet. Even mother's milk contains a natural sweetener...lactose. Unfortunately, because organic lactose is hard to come by on the marketplace, many baby formula makers are now using sucrose as their sweetener of choice.

“Sucrose tends to be five times sweeter than lactose and too much of any sugar can cause problems, but especially sucrose. There can be problems with dental damage, problems with tooth decay, excessive weight gain, and sucrose tends to make people overeat, “said Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician at Atlanta’s Children’s Medical Group.

Indeed, it should be noted that sucrose-sweetened baby formulas are banned in Europe. Experts are concerned about the proliferation of childhood obesity rates among other health concerns. And truly, do we really want our newborn infants exposed to refined sugars at such an early age, if at all? I know, as a mother of two, I certainly don't. Yet another reason to applaud breastfeeding mothers.

Indeed, America's addiction to sugar has created an epidemic of health and immune problems including candida overgrowth, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, adrenal fatigue, diabetes, and obesity.

25 Reasons to Avoid Sugar

While we're all very much aware of the dangers of refined sugars, the news is finally coming to light and circling among the masses that artificial sweeteners [i.e. aspartame, saccharin, and sucrolose], are downright dangerous to ingest. For more information on these market-heavy products, click HERE.

"So if I can't use sugar or Splenda/Sweet N' Low/Equal...what can I use, Bridgett?"

Oh! I'm so glad you asked, dear reader.

Allow me to lead you to the world of all-natural, organic products. The good news is, healthy natural sweeteners do exist.
  • Products made from flowers, plants, and trees.
  • Products which don't contain chlorine or various other chemicals.
  • Products which won't cause overeating by fooling your brain with addictive components.
Probably the most popular natural sweetener at this time is Stevia.


Stevia

Stevia is derived from a small shrub found primarily in China and South America, and is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar. In its unrefined yet medicinal form it has a slight licorice taste that makes it unpleasant as a sweetener. Many years ago the Japanese discovered how to extract the two sweet elements in stevia, (rebaudioside and stevioside) from the leaf creating the safest, natural, calorie-free sweetener on the market today. In fact, the Coca-Cola company is now using Stevia in their diet drinks.

Benefits of Stevia [according to Donna Gates for Body Ecology]:
  • It has a long history of safe use as an herbal sweetener, and as an antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic agent.
  • It helps balance the pancreas, which is quite often compromised in people with candida.
  • It is recommended for diabetics and for people with hypoglycemia.
  • It regulates the digestive tract and greatly increases energy.
  • It does not feed candida in the intestinal tract.
So is it safe to ingest? Japanese scientists did numerous studies using hamsters in the early nineties. The results of these studies can be found HERE. In short, these scientists tested fertility, carcinogenic effects, toxicity, risks of obesity and various other health issues often tied to artificial sweeteners. What they found? Stevia exhibitied none of these side effects, and in fact, appeared to decrease breast tumors and kidney damage in the rodents.

Here are a couple Stevia brands I recommend:

Only Sweet
Now

Both are zero calories and can be purchased in powder or liquid form. The NOW brand can be purchased on Amazon.


Xylitol

Xylitol is a sweetener found in many fruits and vegetables and is even produced by the human body during normal carbohydrate metabolism . Xylitol is typically manufactured from birch tree cellulose or other natural xylan-rich sources.

Benefits of Xylitol
  • It has been clinically proven to fight dental cavities, and to facilitate the remineralization of dental enamel.
  • It tastes similar to sugar, with 40% fewer calories.
  • It helps stabilize blood sugar.
  • It does not feed candida in the intestinal tract.
  • It fights respiratory and ear infections, decreasing the need for antibiotics.

Is it safe? Yes! In 1983, JECFA, a joint expert committee of WHO and FAO, confirmed the fact, already known by scientists that it is a safe sweetener for foods. The FDA also confirmed this fact in 1986.

A couple brands I recommend?

Xlear

Epic Dental

I use products from both of these companies and highly recommend them to you [no, I'm not getting paid to say this either]. Epic Dental provides my family toothpaste (flouride-free, of course), mouthwash, mints, and gum. Xlear provides individual packets of xylitol for drinks and nasal spray.

Lo Han

Lo Han, another natural sweetener that does not feed candida, is extracted from the Lo Han Guo fruit, which is a member of the gourd family. I am not personally familiar with this sweetener, but it has been used for decades in western medicine.

Benefits of Lo Han:

  • It is 250-400 times sweeter than sugar.
  • Is calorie free.
  • Like Stevia and xylitol, it is safe for diabetics and hypoglycemics.
  • It is used as a medicinal herb in Southern China, and for treating coughs and sore throats.

If any of you, loyal readers, have used this sweetener and are familiar with its properties, please leave a comment in the comment section. I'm anxious to learn more about Lo Han.

Manuka & Raw, Organic Honey

Manuka Honey is a premium medical-grade honey, exclusively found in the New Zealand region. It has been discovered that this unique type of honey contains extraordinary healing properties that are capable of treating a wide spectrum of health conditions. Although pricey, it's an excellent supplement to keep in the cupboards, as its benefits are AMAZING. Manuka honey is the 'Cadillac' of all honey.

Raw, organic honey has been used for centuries for its healing properties, as well as its sweetness. People use it to bake as it requires less use of heat. Its tasty flavor is one reason many people prefer it over table sugar. Besides that, honey is much sweeter than regular table sugar and better for you.

It’s always best if you buy locally grown organic raw honey whenever you can. Locally grown because it’s produced by bees which are from the environment in which you live. It's wise to grow or consume foods from the area in which you live as they contain the immune stimulating properties needed for your body to adapt to its environment. Fresh raw honey will also be tastier, and more potent. And, when you buy from local independent farmers you help keep them in business, which is good for your economy.

Benefits of Manuka Honey:

  • Manuka Honey has natural antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antioxidant, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • Manuka Honey creates a moist healing environment that allows new skin cells to grow across a healing wound flush with the surface of the wound, preventing deformity of the skin and scaring.
  • Manuka Honey rapidly clears infection by destroying bacteria.
  • Manuka Honey repairs damaged skin and regenerates new skin growth.
  • Manuka Honey hastens the healing process.
  • Manuka Honey eliminates malodor by destroying the bacteria that cause it.
  • Manuka Honey can heal Staph infections and destroy antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria such as MRSA and VRE.
  • The viscosity of Manuka Honey provides a protective barrier to prevent wounds from becoming infected.
  • Manuka Honey causes scabs and dead skin cells to lift off the surface of the wound, leaving a clean healthy wound bed in which the regeneration of skin tissue can occur.
  • Manuka Honey stimulates the growth of tissue involved in the healing process.
  • Manuka Honey stimulates the formation of new blood capillaries and the growth of fibroblasts that replace the connective tissue of the deeper layer of the skin and produce the collagen fibers that give strength to the repair.
  • Manuka Honey has an anti-inflammatory action that relieves pain.
  • Manuka Honey has antifungal properties that can cure ringworm and other fungal conditions such as athlete's foot, jock itch and nail fungus.
  • Manuka Honey is all-natural and organic.
  • Manuka Honey has no known side effects.

Now, some of these benefits are from actually rubbing the honey into the wounds and not ingesting them...but I wanted to list all them all for your benefit.

Manuka honey also comes in two types:

1. Regular

2. UMF (Unique Manuka Factor)--The
higher the UMF, the stronger the antibacterial properties.

Benefits of Raw, Organic Honey:
  • Taking organic raw honey is a healthy way to get an energy boost. Its carbohydrates supply us with energy and strength. It can boost your endurance and reduce muscle fatigue.
  • Honey is a great aid in relieving morning sickness, reportedly even more effective than traditional soda crackers. It’s also good for sore throats including laryngitis and pharyngitis.
  • Honey and cinnamon can help in many areas including relief from bladder infections, arthritis, upset stomach and bad breath. It’s even supposed to be able to slow down hair loss.
  • Honey can be used as a medication for men with problems of impotence and women with problems related to infertility. Warm raw goat milk and raw honey is believed to increase sperm count considerably.
  • A salve made of honey, for diabetic ulcers, has been proven effective when other topical antibiotics are not well tolerated. It can be applied to eczema, canker sores or bleeding gums.
  • Honey and apple cider vinegar can be used for many ailments like stomach aches, constipation and even migraines.
  • Honey and lemon goes to work in the body shifting the extra fat stores, thus making it usable energy for regular body functions. And, honey is cholesterol-free. It reportedly can even help to keep cholesterol levels in check.
  • Honey has a viscous texture due to its low water content. It also establishes a poor environment for bad bacteria to grow, and is a good natural preservative.

Despite the numerous benefits listed above, both raw and Manuka honey is one and a half times sweeter than sugar and feeds the systemic yeast infection, candida. It also raises blood sugar almost as much as table sugar. So if you have candida gut issues, as many autistic children do, or you're diabetic, you'll want to eat honey very sparingly.

Once you are free of candida symptoms, and your digestive tract is well populated with the friendly microflora essential for good health, you may be able to handle small amounts of honey.

Molasses

Molasses is made by refining sugarcane and sugar beets. During processing, sugar crystals are extracted leaving a dark, syrupy mixture. If the molasses is from sugarcane grown in high quality soil, it can have an abundance of minerals like iron, calcium, and magnesium. Blackstrap Molasses is the darkest color molasses you can get, and this indicates the presence of less sugar, and more nutrients. Again, like honey, even the healthiest version of molasses will feed candida.

Avoid Agave Nectar!!

Agave is derived from a plant found mainly in Mexico and contains a sweet, sticky juice that is ninety percent fructose. Growers have unfortunately found a way to process agave, and convert it into something called hydrolyzed high fructose inulin syrup. This chemically processed agave is similar to high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a sugar with serious health implications. In fact, some agave distributors have been caught re-labeling HFCS as agave syrup!

It is difficult to tell whether the agave syrup sold on the market is from a toxic variety of agave, which might be used due to the shortage of blue agave, or whether it is the highly processed fructose syrup. For these reasons, it is best to avoid agave syrup until further legal mandates are in place to ensure its source, and its safety.

This recently released information has me deeply disturbed. Like many parents of autistic children, we've been sweetening my son's foods with agave for over a year now, as we believed it was a 'low glycemic index' food, which wouldn't feed candida. We were betrayed by manipulative marketing.

Despite what we were led to believe, agave is NOT:
  • a natural, organic food
  • low calorie
  • low on the glycemic index

In conclusion, I recommend avoiding all other types of sugar, including fructose, HFCS, agave, and any type of artificial sweeteners. I hope this information is helpful to you and I hope you'll all consider making the change to natural sweeteners.

Stay healthy!

13 comments:

Stephanie said...

Awesome post! So informative, too. I'm going to go re-read it.

Chantelle said...

B, you are so smart and wise beyond your years! I really enjoy reading these posts. You put a lot of effort and time into them, and they are so informative. I know that we need to make a lot of changes around here, and I love referring to your posts to get great ideas!

Nancy said...

love the post, very informative and well rounded! I like that there is something for everyone. I personally like Stevia, have successfully used it in many things.

Rue said...

Manuka honey is the bomb! I used to get a cold every month from people using my phone/desk in my office - and I've only ended up with one cold in the last year - because I ran out of my honey and didn't replace it for several weeks. I take one teaspoon a day. That's it. It's brilliant!

Thanks for following my blog! Loving yours too!

VintageSage said...

Hi Bridgett!

What a great article. I have been terrible about sweeteners but was never sure which one was actuall good for you. I love raw sugar but sometimes it's not sweet enough for me. :) And I had no idea Agave nectar contained tons of fructose! I am loving your blog!!

xoxo

Michelle

~PakKaramu~ said...

Visiting your blog

Wendy the (Very) Good Witch said...

Okay...so I went out and got my Stevia. Ate it on my breakfast cereal this morning. Tastes just like the Splenda I was using, so no problems in switching.

I also got the Manuka Honey which may as well have been gold it was so expensive. I could only get this honey made in New Zealand however. I may try Whole Foods next time and see what they have available, as I got mine at the local health food store. Anyway...the consistency is not what I am used to with honey, so that was weird. Then the taste...I can only describe the taste as strangely 'medicinal' which is weird for something like honey. So I have figured out that I can eat my 1 teaspoonful on a cracker with peanut butter to get it down. Maybe that's why it is such good medicine...it tastes sort of like medicine...ha! Have not tried it topically on any wounds yet however. But thanks for all the info on these products! Happy Hump Day!

Bridgett said...

Wendy, that's amazing! I'm so glad things are going well so far.

Stevia tastes really good, I think. And it doesn't have that weird 'chlorine-like' taste Splenda has. I always told my husband I hated Splenda because it tasted like I was drinking pool water...then I found out it's two chlorine particles per one of sugar. LOL

No wonder it tasted like chlorine...it IS chlorine.

As for the Manuka, it's incredibly expensive. Agreed. 100%. But there is nothing better to have on hand when there are cuts, scrapes, infections, or fungal infections on the skin.

The reason it's so expensive, it can only be found in one small area of New Zealand. So yea, it's very pricey.

Like you, I find it tastes a little weird, but it's something I'm willing to put up with for the benefits. :)

Happy healing to you, doll!

)O(

prashant said...

What a great article. I have been terrible about sweeteners but was never sure which one was actualy good for you.
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Kristin Dombrowski said...

Hi Bridgett,
I just found your blog and it is wonderful! Thank you for all of the great advice. The information in this article helps me so much, as I have to avoid sugars for my diet. I learned all sorts of things about agave from this!
Thank you and blessings!

onebeeswax said...

Bridgett you are a miracle!

The human race will not disappear with young mothers like you around.

As a wise, old and stoical beekeeper and natural health fanatic, there aren't many articles on sweeteners that I can't find fault with.......... but I can't fault this one! (.....or is it just my failing eyesight? Maybe I am slipping!)

Your position in life makes you so believable too. Both Scientist and Priests, especially those in positions of power, have destroyed their credibility, so who can be trusted now?

There is no one more real, more honest and more credible than the mother of a needy child.

You are on a roll. Go for it, Girl!

Cheers,

JohnS

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aknovice said...

Hello Bridgett,
I am glad I found your website, it is very insightful on sweeteners. I have recently found one that I wish you could check out for me, it is called Whey Low. I love the way it cooks up and it taste just like sugar, but I am not sure of the health implications.
Thanks,
D in AK