Natural sugars versus sweeteners

Do you find yourself craving certain foods? Well if you do you’re not alone.  In my Nutrition clinic there’s not a day goes by when I don’t encounter an ‘artificial sweetener’ junkie. On their quest for a healthy diet, they seem to be able to make all manner of dietary changes. However, this is the hardest one to give up every time, even though it often makes them feel lousy, giving them headaches and cravings for more.

The truth is that artificial sweeteners and other additives are, by and large, chemicals produced in labs, and were never intended to feed human bodies. The more artificial and unnatural the product, the more likely it is to affect the basic structure of our DNA, causing damage and possibly cancer. Following research studies into the possible role of artificial sweeteners causing cancer, Cyclamate was banned by the FDA in the US.

These additives play a major, albeit covert, role in the current obesity crisis.

The majority of sweeteners and artificial additives are found in fatty, salty, sugary foods that are not the healthiest food choices. These additives just make foods that are bad for us last longer, taste better, cheaper, and more addictive.

My clients will tell you that when they’ve cracked the habit they are released from this nasty addiction and start to feel well again, so start reading the labels and avoid these nasties for good.

You’ll find them in all manner of diet products and drinks, biscuits, cakes, chocolate and desserts. Look out for aspartame, acesulfame-K, saccharin, sorbitol, splenda, nutrasweet and candarel.

If you want healthy alternatives for home cooking try Xylitol, Agave syrup and F.O.S (Fructo Oligo Saccharide). These are delicious natural low GI sugars that can be used as you would regular sugars or syrups. Xylitol is just like granuated sugar and can be sprinkled on porridge, used in drinks, cakes, desserts, yoghurts etc. Xylitol has the added benefit of helping prevent dental cavities, so it’s perfect for baking with the kids.

Agave is a wonderful alternative to honey, golden and maple syrup but won’t give you the blood sugar highs and lows normally associated with sugary foods, so they are better for your waistline to. F.O.S can be used like you would icing sugar, it’s a type of fibre and a prebiotic so it supports the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria and again it doesn’t elevate blood sugar.  Studies have found that F.O.S. can promote calcium absorption in the gut.

Large supermarkets now sell Agave syrup in the baking section, but for xylitol or xylosweet and F.O.S. (by Biocare) try an online supplier such as Revital (

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