Obesity and overweight have become serious problems affecting global human health, and its prevalence is rising. In the case of the United States, more than 50% of people in the United States have problems of being overweight. Obesity-induced type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and other complications due to obesity create considerably burden on the human body. Therefore, some people began to solve the problem of obesity by adjusting their diet. Among them, the use of sugar substitute foods instead of ordinary foods is a popular way. However, whether sugar substitutes are as healthy as people think is worth exploring.
What is sugar substitutes?
Sugar substitutes are low-calorie or zero-calorie food additives that are chemically produced (e.g. Saccharin, Aspartame) or extracted from natural plants (e.g. Stevia). They provide a higher sweetness than regular sugars, not only in foods and beverages but also in medicines or mouthwashes. For example, common zero-degree cola and sugar-free chewing gums are using sugar substitutes to replace ordinary sugars and sweetness by adding sugar substitutes.
Most people think that sugar substitutes can not only completely replace ordinary sugar, but also do not burden the body of obesity, and believe that sugar substitutes can help people suppress appetite and sense of hunger. As a result, many businesses continue to market and promote the concept of selling their “healthy foods”, which has led many people to overtake the sugar substitutes. But is the sugar substitute product as healthy as people think?
What is the problem with sugar substitute?
An Israeli institute has experimentally demonstrated that sugar substitutes are linked to people’s metabolic stagnation. Although not all people have this symptom, there are certain risks. Therefore, the intake of sugar substitutes may lead to people’s stomach uncomfortableness and thus increase the risk of obesity and diabetes.
Aggravate the condition of diabetic patients
A study in the UK suggests that sugar-supplemented foods cause elevated levels of insulin, which is similar to the symptoms of ordinary sucrose, so the benefits of sugar substitutes (such as low calories) and the risks it brings neutralize each other. Therefore, sugar substitutes for diabetic patients and even obese patients may not be the healthiest choice.
Other controversial effects
Although there is no definitive study to prove that certain symptoms and diseases are directly related to the use of sugar substitutes, most studies report that one of the sugar substitutes: aspartame, which is highly likely to be unhealthy for people. Because of the many potential adverse effects. Such as headaches, gout, causing epilepsy, attention deficits and birth defects. Therefore, in view of safety considerations, some high-risk groups such as pregnant women, diabetic patients and patients with epilepsy should be cautious in the intake of sugar substitute products.
Should we resist all sugar substitute?
The answer is no. Despite the shortcomings and potential risks of sugar substitutes, its advantages cannot be denied which is ordinary sugar, the sugar substitute does not contain or contains very few calories, compared to the healthier. And the proper intake of certain types of sugar substitutes does not cause blood sugar to rise as ordinary sugar will do, so it is a good substitute for diabetic patients. Since the sugar substitute will not be reduced by bacteria, thus using the sugar substitute to replace conventional saccharide can prevent tooth decay.
The sugar substitute is divided into two types, artificially manufactured and naturally extracted. It is more beneficial for the body to choose the right sugar substitute. Here are a few healthier sugar substitutes recommondation：
Stevia is a naturally-derived sugar substitute. Studies have shown that stevia can lower insulin levels and blood pressure, and there is currently no negative information about stevia, so it is a good choice for obesity and diabetic patients.
Although it is a chemically synthesized sugar substitute, and the insulin level rises after ingestion, the effect is not as significant as the traditional sugars such as glucose, and the sugar alcohol does not cause metabolic disorder, and will not be consumed after consumption. Causes gastrointestinal discomfort, so it is very suitable for people who have adverse reactions to other sugar substitute products.
What’s the right thing to do with sugar substitutes?
1. Try not to choose sugar or sugary foods
Sugar substitutes are not a panacea for healthy living or weight loss. Although it has its benefits, the potential risks need to be carefully considered. Healthy eating habits and exercise are the right way to live, instead of depending on the sugar substitute.
2. Moderate intake
If you must choose a sugar substitute, you must take a proper amount of it, and you should not overeat it because of its low calories. All healthy foods are unhealthy as long as they exceed a certain amount.
3. Carefully choose the sugar substitute
It is safer to choose the right sugar substitute according to your physical condition. The high-risk groups mentioned above should be careful making decision.