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Sugar and artificial sweeteners

First let’s start by acknowledging that too much sugar – in any form – is not a good thing. Our society seems to have an insatiable need to maintain and increase sweet flavours in our diets. Gone are the days when a sweet was a treat. Now we consider sweet flavours at all our meals regardless of the time of the day. We are a society that eats chocolate for breakfast. Need I say more?

If you’re replacing your sugar with non-sugar sweeteners such as Stevia then you may be doing something good for you body. If you’re replacing it with artificial substances then read on. You may not realise the impact you’re having on your health. Artificial sweeteners are synthetic molecules that, although not carbohydrates, produce a sweet sensation on the tongue. They are added to foods, drinks, medicines, vitamins and even toothpaste.

If you want to avoid artificial sweeteners it is important to know what to look for. The presence of artificial sweeteners must be declared on food labels, but may be named or identified by a food additive number. Either way it may not be immediately clear that these substances are artificial sweeteners. You need to read the ingredients list closely. If there is a number between 950-957 it reflects common artificial sweeteners.

Many people feel that the scientific evidence on the safety of artificial sweeteners is inconclusive. Much of the research has been conducted, or paid for, by the companies that have the right to produce the substance – obviously they would have a vested interest in finding it safe. It is also a concern that some of the research is old and incomplete, and that studies are usually conducted on animals rather than humans. It is also important to acknowledge that sugar and non-sugar sweeteners will perpetuate your need for sweet flavours and both are associated with negative health effects.