Whole Foods Lifestyle - What's worse -- refined simple sugar or sugar substitues?




IngridonWW
01-19-2009, 07:33 PM
Let me know what you think.

I hope that if I admit to using sugar substitutes on this board, I won't be kicked off. :^:

I use Splenda some, and also Stevia, but I tend to stay away from refined sugars as much as possible, and prefer my combination of Splenda and stevia.

It's not all weight-loss related. Excessive amounts of carbs make me crazy, hungry and headachy.

What would be best would be if I didn't feel the need to consume sweet things or substitute sweet things at all ... and got all my jollies from fruit. But...I'm not that disciplined.

I know a lot of natural food advocates hate the chemical-sugar substitutes, and I understand. But I also feel that is a danger to our health with the amount of sugar out there ... our bodies just weren't made to deal with it even though it comes from a natural source.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this...


nelie
01-19-2009, 07:47 PM
I think the answer is 'it depends'.

It depends on your goals
It depends on how sensitive to sugar you are
It depends on how sensitive to sugar substitutes you are

I don't think we know the long term effects of many artificial sweeteners as well as possible short term effects. There have been issues raised with stevia, agave, splenda as well as the more traditional artificial sweeteners.

For me, I use stevia and agave for things I sweeten myself. For some recipe, I may use maple syrup and I recently made something with brown sugar which I've never used before but I was following a recipe.

For things I buy, I'm a bit picky about the ingredients but some things do have fruit juice as a sweeteners, others have cane sugar and some have plain sugar. For my dark chocolate I buy for instance, it generally has sugar or cane juice as an ingredient.

WarMaiden
01-19-2009, 07:48 PM
I know with 100% certainty that refined sugar is tremendously bad (equivalent to poison) for me and for some of my loved ones. From experience, I do not know that sugar substitutes are bad for me and my loved ones; thus far, using them judiciously seems to work fine. (I use a variety of different substitutes for baking; Splenda, stevia, fruit or fruit concentrate, honey, molasses.)

Really, I think the most "natural" kind of diet would be one in which I didn't eat any grains at all and I felt no need for sweet baked goods as treats; but I'm still a product of my culture, and substitutes work for me in a very practical sense.


mandalinn82
01-19-2009, 07:53 PM
I know with 100% certainty that refined sugar is tremendously bad (equivalent to poison) for me and for some of my loved ones. From experience, I do not know that sugar substitutes are bad for me and my loved ones; thus far, using them judiciously seems to work fine. (I use a variety of different substitutes for baking; Splenda, stevia, fruit or fruit concentrate, honey, molasses.)

Sign my name onto this. HOWEVER, someone else might be the exact opposite...less sensitive to a moderate amount of refined sugar, and incredibly sensitive to the artificial sweeteners. I get sick from aspartame, but Splenda doesn't make me crave, make me sick, or generally make me feel poorly. Contrast that with sugar, which gives me spikes and crashes so hard I shake.

WarMaiden
01-19-2009, 08:01 PM
Sign my name onto this. HOWEVER, someone else might be the exact opposite...less sensitive to a moderate amount of refined sugar, and incredibly sensitive to the artificial sweeteners. I get sick from aspartame, but Splenda doesn't make me crave, make me sick, or generally make me feel poorly. Contrast that with sugar, which gives me spikes and crashes so hard I shake.

I do think there are probably some artificial sweeteners that shouldn't be used at all, and especially not by kids: aspartame, saccharin. And even with Splenda, I try to use as little of it as possible, and try not to give it to my kids; they get honey or agave syrup usually instead. Splenda, for me, is really only for putting in baked goods, and I typically use about half as much as would normally be in the recipe.

And, heh, even THEN I restrict myself on how much of those baked goods I eat, and when, because I don't want to start a grain-induced blood-sugar-crash cycle!

kaebea
01-19-2009, 08:06 PM
you won't get kicked off:D

I'm distrustful of artificial sweetners.
The way i look at it is, sugar itself is so refined, that it's really nothing that would ever have been found in nature, although it comes from sugar cane.
So sugar itself is something that our bodies weren't designed to handle.
Enter sugar substitues, which are even farther removed from a natural substance, having been chemically altered and you have something even further from what our bodies were equipped to be able to process.

alot of my decision on weather or not to consume sugar or artificial sweetners comes more from my personal beliefs about diet and my intuition, and not from scientific research or FDA approval.

http://www.steviacafe.net/dangers-of-splenda
http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/september-2008/whole-life/some-kinds-of-help.html?ht=sucralose%20sucralose
http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/december-2007/healthy-eating/poor-substitutes.html

kaplods
01-19-2009, 09:28 PM
As most have said or implied, it's a very personal choice. Living a whole foods lifestyle means different things to different people, and the degree to which they avoid processed foods (and what they mean by processed) varies alot from person to person.

You won't be kicked out, because there's no consensus on what it means to be pursuing a whole foods lifestyle. I am by no means a purist. There are still some processed foods, and even some pure junk in my diet (I love sugar free jello and Crystal Light, I know they're frankenfoods, but they keep me on track and away from sugar). I only buy organic when it looks better and is not an arm and a leg more expensive than standard produce. I use frozen veggies where they're more economical than canned, and I even buy canned for some veggies - though some like green beans, I rinse or soak to remove excess sodium.

My personal goals are rather vague - to eat more foods that my ancestors would recognize and the further back I can go, the better. My geat-grandmother might recognize pasta, but my CroMagnon ancestors would be stumped. So, I probably should eat less of it than say fresh fruit.

It's all sort of goal, rather than a destination for me, but as with everything on this journey, I'm aiming at progress not perfection. I still get distracted by junk (and usually regret it, not only because of weight but feeling yucky in other ways - I'm learning that sugar really is horrible poison for me).

As for artificial sweeteners specifically, I prefer Splenda to aspartame, but I don't appear to get a reaction from either (sugar however does give me headaches).

sweetshauna
01-20-2009, 02:08 AM
The way i look at it is, sugar itself is so refined, that it's really nothing that would ever have been found in nature, although it comes from sugar cane.
So sugar itself is something that our bodies weren't designed to handle.

True true. Have you ever actually had sugar cane? It's actually not that sweet as you would think. Don't get me wrong, its sweet, just not THAT sweet. It's DELICIOUS though!

And "evaporated cane juice"? How do you get SUGAR... you EVAPORATE cane juice (essentially)! So don't be fooled... evaporated cane juice IS sugar!

kaebea
01-20-2009, 09:56 AM
Alternately, the left over substance, after the sugar is extracted is molasses.
and ironically, molasses is where all the nutrients are. Blackstrap molasses is a source of calcium, magnesium, potassium and iron, up to 20% the RDA according to wiki. whereas sugar is empty of any nutrition.

more ironically, the nutritionally devoid sugar is sold to feed people, and then the nutritious molasses is mainly sold to feed....cattle :moo:
:?:

ennay
01-20-2009, 03:36 PM
Sign my name onto this. HOWEVER, someone else might be the exact opposite...less sensitive to a moderate amount of refined sugar, and incredibly sensitive to the artificial sweeteners. I get sick from aspartame, but Splenda doesn't make me crave, make me sick, or generally make me feel poorly. Contrast that with sugar, which gives me spikes and crashes so hard I shake.

I am that exact opposite. I tolerate small judicious amounts of sugar (natural or refined about the same) hopefully combined in a meal that had protein etc. Honey on my oatmeal with my eggwhite omelet. A small piece of chocolate after a lunch. A few bites of dessert after a protein packed dinner. (chocolate milk after a 16 mile run ;))

AS on the other hand put me into a sugar crash/crave so bad I feel nauseous and shaky until I eat carbohydrates and enter my vicious roller coaster binges. I do slightly better with aspartame than I do with splenda, but almost all of them cause bad reactions for me. Diet sodas do not do quite as badly for me as things like sugar free puddings, etc so there may be the combo with OTHER refined crap that magnifies it.

I am definitely one of those people who gain weight the more AS I ingest.

jessisaokay
01-20-2009, 04:02 PM
I think it also depends how much you are using. I use 1 or 2 splenda packets a day, and don't notice anything. Howver, if someone is using say 28 packets a day, they may want to consider just using the natural stuff.

mazza
01-20-2009, 04:30 PM
Personally, Splenda makes me anxious, nervous and panicky - but I know heaps of people who use it and are just fine. Tha being said, I don't usually get any of these affects when I drink a diet Sprite or something (on the rare occasion that I do).

I've mentioned recently on the boards that I use a stevia/xylitol sweetener that comes in a handy shaker (it's green) by a brand called Nirvana, and it's called Stevia Supreme (Stevia on its own is too bitter for me, but xylitol on it's own makes not-so-sexy sounds come from my bowel if I use more than 2 teaspoons) and the combination makes it my favourite sweetener to use (not that I use it often).

Like many have said, since there aren't a ton of long - term studies on the affects of artificial sweeteners on health, it's important to take into account how you feel after you've consumed something with a sugar substitute. This will be the basis for most of the decisions you make regarding what sort of sweetener you'll use in recipes.

Furthermore, I am in agreeance with the ladies who have said that refined sugar is basically the white devil. However, if you're dying for some refined sugar one day (be it as a result of cravings, no alternative in a recipe, etc) having it with some protein and/or fat helps slow down how quickly it becomes blood sugar.

kaebea
01-21-2009, 11:15 AM
I know it's sort of pointless to say that one has proof of whether or not sugar subs are toxic or not.
most holistic sources will say they are detrimental to your body, then the next article you find will be a study saying that there was never any risk after all.
So in the end you just have to make your own choice.
but here's an article that's pretty comprehensive of all the sweetners.
http://www.mvholisticretreat.com/article.html/sweet-poison

another thing to think about, and the source of this is completely from my own brain, but the whole reason for consuming something is so that our bodies can break it down and use those substances to nourish and rebuild tissues and cells. So ideally when a person eats something, the body would want it to be vitamins and minerals that it can absorb into its tissues having a positive effect on the organism as a whole.

when chemicals or substances that cannot be used to rebuild tissues and cells are introduced into the body, they will interfere with what really needs to be done. they can either lodge into places blocking real nutrients from doing their jobs, or they can accumulate in tissues because the body doesn't know what to do with them. and anything foreign in the body is going to cause an immune responce, which could result in inflammation, aches and pains and other toxic conditions over time.
Strain is also put on the body to rid it of these useless substances. The liver and kidneys are doing extra work to clear them from the system. Energy, vitamins and minerals are used in breaking down these substances which give nothing back in return. So it becomes an extra stress to the system.

So this in a nutshell is what is behind my descision not to use artificial sweetners and sugar on a regular basis.
and i'm by no means perfect in avoiding sweet stuff. And by the way i also believe it's addictive, but i wont go into that :) but I do try to avoid it and i don't believe any of it is safe or benign.

I think we also should try to remember that we may not feel bad right away after consuming one of these sugar substitutes, but that does not mean that over time, there might not be chronic effects occurring in the body, and many of these substances have not even been around long enough to be able to determine what effects they can have on a person who has consumed them for a lifetime.

I hope this doesn't come off as 'doom and gloomy'. i just want share my thoughts and feelings on the subject. of course it isn't scientific, but it's the cumulative judgement i've made based on all the articles i've read jumbled with my own gut feelings.

IngridonWW
01-21-2009, 05:13 PM
Kaebea, I think that's a very fair thing to say, and even though I love my sweeteners, I have to admit you're right.

Do you think there's any difference between different sweeteners?

I know the body is supposed to recognize Splenda as a protein, and break it down that way. Is there research into how these chemicals are broken down? Is that part of their testing?

kaebea
01-21-2009, 09:21 PM
Ingrid,
i'm sure there's differences in the sweetners as far as how they are broken down, what they are broken down into and which tissues they might disrupt the most, just because they have different chemical make ups.
I won't pretend to know the answer, but i'll look into it.
it's just hard to find anything concrete because one report will say cancer this, cancer that, and the next report will say perfectly safe, good for lab rats.

What i did come across several times when i was researching around to answer the original question was that there wasn't alot of research done on Splenda. And if that is the case, then the people at large are in fact the lab rats since the stuff is already on the market.

I'm definitely not saying that occasionally ingesting this stuff is going to ruin you. It's just my gut feeling not to trust reports that say this kind of stuff is safe.
Cuz usually as you scan down the report, you'll see that is says something to the effect of " for the average person, eating so many mgs per kg per day is perfectly safe."

which gives me the sense that they are saying it's okay to slowly poison yourself with this toxin at this slow rate.

I think we also have to realize that even though so many mgs/kg/day of say splenda might be proven safe according to the researchers, we are also exposed to an onslaught of other chemicals in our modern world and together all these toxins are going to have some kind of net effect on our bodies.

I'll shut up now ;)

zenor77
01-21-2009, 09:51 PM
Personally I think stevia, raw honey, raw agave, maple syrup, molasses, and sorghum syrup are okay is moderate amounts (in other words, small amounts.) From the research I've done, it seems these sweeteners don't affect your immune system the way refined sugar does. I do have to say though, I can't use stevia -- too bitter.

I do use sugar on occasion, but I buy the unbleached kind and don't use it very often. Certainly not every day. I don't have blood sugar or craving problems, so I feel it's okay for me to have as a treat.

I don't use artificial sweeteners though. In my mind, they are just as bad (if not worse) then regular sugar. This is just my opinion, of course. I don't judge others based on their decisions for their own body.

Artificial sweeteners cause problems for me. Ones I was not aware of until I stopped consuming them. I attribute my former problems with bad pms, headaches, and extreme tiredness to consuming artificial sweeteners. I feel artificial sweeteners are toxic. At least, I feel they are to my body.

Wolf Goddess
01-21-2009, 10:23 PM
I think we also have to realize that even though so many mgs/kg/day of say splenda might be proven safe according to the researchers, we are also exposed to an onslaught of other chemicals in our modern world and together all these toxins are going to have some kind of net effect on our bodies.

However, it's noteworthy that even things that your body needs can be poison to your body - take for example, iron. Iron can be highly toxic in a certain dose, but your body needs it. Now, your body doesn't need a sweetener, but that's not to say that it's realistically feasible to actually poison yourself with it. But again, to each his own.

However, all of this talk makes me think of this:

http://www.dhmo.org/

:dizzy:

kaebea
01-22-2009, 07:15 PM
Heh heh, I was actually pondering this for a moment at work today :)
many things can be beneficial to the body up to a certain level, after which they could potentially reach toxic levels, including water. It's possible and quite deadly i hear to overhydrate.

I think the difference, in my eyes anyway, is that real nutrients are actually giving the body something that it can use. They are absorbed and used as building blocks and actually become part of the body.
Now, i have read this and it is quite common thinking in holistic health care circles, but, for non-nutritive substances, in order for the body to break them down, process them and rid them from the body, you actually get a net LOSS of nutrients. So a diet high in refined white sugar could actually rob someone of nutrients thus contributing to a deficiency.

I'll have to look into that too and see if i can find any sources, but in know i've read it multiple times and it makes sense to me.
this thread is going to really make me have to do some homework...;)

IngridonWW
01-22-2009, 09:30 PM
I just wanted to add that I saw the other day on the Today Show (or GMA) that a mainstream dietician was recommending getting off both sugar and sugar subs to detox the body, and get rid of the sweet cravings. So maybe both are bad ????

kitten
01-26-2009, 10:05 AM
i traded in sugar for agave nectar over a year ago. it is the same in calories, but it does'nt spike your blood sugar and then result in a crash later. agave nectar is taste neutral, so i also bake with it. i don't think sugar eaters would know the difference.
i also bake with brown rice syrup sometimes, but it is more like sugar on the glycemic index. you would get the crash later.
i think stevia tastes awful.
i do go off the wagon with sugary foods, but i dont have sugar in my home. im convinced that sugar is really evil. :devil:

ennay
01-28-2009, 04:14 PM
I just wanted to add that I saw the other day on the Today Show (or GMA) that a mainstream dietician was recommending getting off both sugar and sugar subs to detox the body, and get rid of the sweet cravings. So maybe both are bad ????

I think if you want to end sweet cravings then you absolutely have to get rid of both. Then you start to retrain the palate. I've done it at times and my husband did. My skinny husband went on (modified) atkins for a few weeks just to see what the fuss was about. He for some reason considered himself an ideal test case. Anyway, he cant stand artificial sweeteners so he just went sweet free. He used to put a lot of honey in his oatmeal, now he uses none, etc.

nelie
01-28-2009, 04:25 PM
Well I agree you can definitely retrain your palate. I used to use sweet n low in my iced tea. Then I started to decrease the amount and now I don't use it at all for iced tea or hot tea.

I buy all my soy milk unsweetened.

For me, most often, the decision between artificial/natural comes from when I buy something or I'm making something purposefully sweet. I've made recipes that called for sweetener and cut the sweetener down. Or sometimes I make chai tea and want it to be a little sweet. I don't feel I NEED sweeteners but I'll still use them sparingly.

kaebea
08-03-2009, 07:58 PM
http://www.innvista.com/health/nutrition/diet/saspart.htm

HeatherEljohari
08-03-2009, 09:52 PM
I do firmly believe we can train our bodies as to what we like and can live with over time. As I changed my diet- it was awful before. I lived on white pastas and sugars (places I didnt even know they snuck white sugar into!). As I began eating more fruits (espectially fruits) and nuts I noticed I didnt desire the crap I did before I crave fruits now!!!!

As far as the artificial sweetners I believe sweet n low dangerous because of the chemical compounds. I heard it causes brain tumors. But im sure that and splenda etc cant be healthy because of the fact it isnt natural its manmade. For my sweetners I use either stevia, honey, or agave. All because they are completely natural. Stevia is from a herb as far as I have been told. I actually like stevia using a couple a day on fruits etc. But I agree with what someone said about white sugar that its evil. It really is for our bodies, complete poison. I believe white sugar and flour turns to pure fat in our bodies over time. Its not the food God created for us therefore causes harmful effects. IMHO.

Amma
08-06-2009, 11:04 PM
I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about sugars. Ideally I'd eat nothing but basic whole foods ala hunter-gatherer - veggies/fruits, nuts/seeds, lean protein, and eggs - and skip the grains, processed grains, roots, and all sugars/sweeteners. Unfortunately I don't find that to be a maintainable way to eat, and I need to be realistic about the nutrition I can stick with in the long term.
If you look at the whole prehistoric-man logic, it makes sense that we generally crave sweet foods - the theory being that they weren't so easy to come by when we were still in hunter-gatherer mode, so we would have gorged on them when they were available to store fuel (i.e. fat) for the leaner times.
So, I think we need to recognize that sweet things should be enjoyed in limited doses - it's the gorging instinct that's a problem IMHO, whether that's on real sugars (which is a main contributor to my extra weight), or the same volume of their artificial substitutes.
Currently I've ditched all my artificial sweeteners (sugar-free pancake syrup was the last to go, I was hanging on to that one), and eat limited doses - less than a tablespoon a day - of less processed sugars like honey or agave.
Now, rather than having a 1/4 cup of sugar-free syrup on my pancakes I drizzle on 1/2 tbsp of honey. I'm trying to focus more on savoring the sweets, and so far it's working. :)

BlessedBe
08-07-2009, 12:25 AM
For the people that say Stevia is bitter, it might depend on what you get. I got some powdered stevia once that was a bit bitter. But I've tried others and it wasn't bitter at all. And if you use to much stevia, it can be sooo sweet it's bitter. I'm using something now that's part pure cane sugar and part stevia. Only 5 cals per packet.

Rif
09-18-2009, 06:55 PM
Well, I try to avoid both. I rarely eat sugar substitutes anymore and have found now that I avoid them that when I do have something with them (like a yogurt), the food tastes horrible -- like a chemical stew. Bleh!

When I want something sweet during the day, I try to have a piece of fruit. In the evening, when I'm close to going to bed, if I want something sweet, I will have some dark chocolate or a frozen fruit bar. If I have sugar earlier in the day, I crave it all day long, so I save it for the evening when I'll sleep away any cravings that might arise. I find this is true of milk sugars also. If I eat yogurt and drink milk during the day, watch out!

Rif
09-18-2009, 06:57 PM
Although.... I do put a drizzle of agave nectar on my oats in the morning along with a handful of blueberries. I recently bought agave nectar with maple extract in it -- yum! Tastes just like maple syrup without the sugar spike.

Naama
09-19-2009, 05:21 AM
I guess it is all very individual. Sugar doesn't give me spikes and crashes in terms of energy and I do use it in a restricted way - tsp in my coffee, a cookie or piece of chocolate as snacks, etc. It's actually a good way for me to end a meal by having a *little* piece of something sweet. It's like a "seal" to the meal and it takes away the need to continue to eat.

I feel the nasty after taste of most AS so really hate them and almost never use them. The only exception for me so far is the Zero coke which tastes to me almost like regular coke. So I do drink a little of that from time to time (not a lot because I also believe that AS can't be healthy for you).