Hardly a day goes by when we are not reminded of the dangers of the word S: sugar. And as a public health nutritionist, I can see why.
Sugar is undoubtedly one of the main factors that underpin the obesity crisis, not to mention the large number of children who have dental extractions.
It is everywhere, not only in obvious things like cakes and cookies, but also in cereals, bread, soups bought in the store, sauces and even salad dressings.
With the average adult eating now twice the amount of sugar that should be consumed each day (12 teaspoons, instead of the recommended limit of 6) and an average adolescent who consumes three times the recommended amount, I think there is no doubt about the amount of the excess sugar we are eating has become a public health crisis.
Nor is it just about obesity and dental health; sugar definitely contributing to the rising rate of type 2 diabetes.
Fortunately, sugar reduction now dominates the nutrition agenda, with legislators and health professionals increasing the pressure to cut the sugar content of our diets, mainly through the use of sweeteners, which have been involved in controversy amid fears of obesity and diabetes. and even dementia.
In recent years, fears have arisen that low-calorie sweeteners can alter metabolism and make people fat. But Ms. Derbyshire says studies show that switching to foods and beverages that contain low-calorie sweeteners instead of sugars can help control weight
LOOKING FOR MYTHS ABOUT SWEETENERS
Again and again, there are things I hear about sweeteners that are wrong, which makes people not use them.
Myth: Low-calorie sweeteners interrupt our metabolism.
This is based on the idea that eating something sweet tells our body to wait for calories, stimulating digestive activity and releasing insulin in preparation for the anticipated rise in blood sugar levels.
True: This arises from a laboratory study that found that when half of the subjects were given unlimited access to food and yogurt sweetened with sugar, and half had access to sweetened sweetened foods and yogurt, the study subjects offered the Low calorie sweetener obtained more weight.
However, when another team of scientists tried to replicate this, they discovered that the opposite was true.
They also showed that the original study was defective because subjects who did not like saccharin were excluded, leaving a self-selected group that was also more likely to gain weight.
Myth: Low calorie sweeteners encourage the sweet tooth
Frequent exposure to sweet flavors promotes a preference for them and excessively stimulates sugar receptors, encouraging cravings. The success of reducing salt in processed foods is sometimes used to support this argument.
True: There is, however, little direct evidence to support these statements. An article published last year in Proceedings of the Nutrition Society by Professor Peter Rogers of the University of Bristol notes that if this theory was correct, exchanging beverages made with low-calorie sweeteners for water would reduce our preference for food. sugary
But short-term studies show no difference in energy intake and long-term studies show that people who switch to low-calorie drinks instead of water are more likely to lose weight.
Myth: Low-calorie sweeteners encourage us to overcompensate for "calories saved."
This is based on the idea that we give ourselves permission to eat or drink more when we choose low-calorie options and end up maintaining, or even increasing, our calorie intake.
True: Again, Roger's paper says that there is evidence that we eat more when we are told that a food is "healthier", but we eat less when we know how many calories it contains and the long-term studies we also found to know if Caloric Sweeteners which are used have no importance in weight loss.
Studies show that using a low-calorie sweetener instead of a little sugar in the diet reduces caloric intake and body weight.
Low-calorie sweeteners are generally used in soft drinks, desserts, yogurts, ice cream, cereal bars, jams, jellies, condiments, medicines and canned foods.
OBTAIN SUGAR FROM OUR DIETS
While getting people to eat a healthy and balanced diet remains the ultimate goal, we have to be realistic that this is a long-term measure.
The habits are ingrained and we must educate people about the amount of sugar that lurks in many of their favorite foods. In addition, most of us enjoy sweet treats once in a while.
An easy way to address high sugar intakes is to encourage people to switch to foods and beverages that are prepared with low-calorie sweeteners instead of regular sugar.
Studies show that switching to foods and beverages that contain low-calorie sweeteners instead of sugars can help control weight, control blood sugar increases after meals and help protect teeth.
WHAT ARE THE FEARS ABOUT SWEETENERS? AND WHAT SHOWS SCIENCE?
In an age of obesity and diabetes, there is more focus on sweeteners and sugar alternatives than ever before. But some in the scientific community say that the jury is still deliberating about the effects of sweeteners and more research is needed.
OBESITY AND DIABETES
A study published in April this year by the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University linked artificial sweeteners with obesity and diabetes, alleging that sweeteners change the way the body processes fat and uses it.
The researchers fed groups of rats with high-sugar diets or artificial sweeteners, including aspartame and acesulfame potassium. After three weeks, the blood samples showed significant differences in the concentrations of biochemicals, fats and amino acids.
The prominent gut microbiome expert, Professor Tim Spector, professor of genetic epidemiology at King's College, warned that if you give animals many sweeteners, you get a reduction in the diversity of the microbes and produce abnormal chemicals , different metabolic signals that have been shown is more likely to give you diabetes and make you gain weight.
He adds that although there is still no solid evidence in humans, he has seen enough to make him leery of eating these additives regularly.
ACCIDENT AND DEMENTIA
The consumption of a can of low-sugar or unsweetened soft drinks is associated with a much higher risk of suffering a stroke or developing dementia, the researchers said last year.
A study from Boston University found that people who consumed diet drinks on a daily basis were almost three times more likely to develop stroke and dementia compared to those who did not.
However, the researchers were quick to point out that these findings, which appear separately in the journals Alzheimer & # 39; s & Dementia and Stroke, showed correlation but no cause-effect.
SLASH 27,000 CALORIES PER YEAR
In fact, you could save 27,000 calories a year simply by switching from sugar to low-calorie sweetener in hot beverages such as tea and coffee.
How? Well, a teaspoon of sugar provides 20 calories, compared to no amount of calories in a low-calorie sweetener, like the Hermesetas mini tablet.
Therefore, for the average adult who drinks four hot drinks a day, with each containing one teaspoon of sugar, this would save them about 80 calories per day, 560 calories per week, 2,240 calories per month and 26,880 per year.
Meanwhile, a review of 16 studies published in the Nutrition Bulletin in 2006 revealed that simply changing sugar for low-calorie sweeteners reduced daily caloric intake by 10% and resulted in a statistically significant weight loss of 0.44 pounds. (0.2 kg) per week. .
The researchers equated that for a year, the potential weight loss could equal 22 pounds (10 kg) for a 165-pound (75 kg) person.
An analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2014 included an evaluation of 15 randomized controlled trials in which sugar had been replaced by low-calorie sweeteners.
The results showed that the use of low calorie sweeteners modestly but significantly reduced body weight, body mass index, body fat and waist circumference.
The authors concluded that "substituting low calorie sweetener options for their regular calorie versions can be a useful dietary tool to improve adherence to weight loss or weight maintenance plans."
SWEETENERS HELP TO CONTROL THE SUGAR IN THE BLOOD – AND PROTECT YOUR TEETH
Not only that, but there is a lot of evidence that shows that low-calorie sweeteners can significantly help type 2 diabetics to control or even lower blood sugar, which helps reduce the risk of complications such as weight loss. vision, damage to the nerves and even amputation of limbs.
In fact, there is a health claim authorized by the EU that low-calorie sweeteners keep reducing postprandial glycemic responses, in short, that means they help maintain blood sugar levels after meals, instead of sending them up the way sugar does.
Therefore, if you are diabetic, it is a good idea to eat / cook with / take low calorie sweeteners.
And when it comes to dental health, unlike regular sugar, low-calorie sweeteners do not produce acid from oral bacteria, and research shows that, therefore, they are less likely to erode tooth enamel and / or cause cavities.
Because of this, the European Union has approved the claim that "low calorie sweeteners can maintain the mineralization of the teeth by reducing the demineralization of the teeth."
Low-calorie sweeteners have been rigorously evaluated and even given two European health claims: one to maintain a reduction in blood sugar levels after meals, the other to help protect teeth from harm
READING THE LABEL: WHAT ARE THE LOW CALORIE SWEETENERS? AND WHAT IS DONE?
Low-calorie sweeteners are generally used in soft drinks, desserts, yoghurts, ice cream, cereal bars, jams, jellies, condiments, medicines and canned foods.
Saccharin (E954) is one of the oldest low calorie sweeteners on the market and has been used to sweeten foods and beverages since the 20th century.
Low-calorie sweeteners such as saccharin are now the most tested and best-evaluated food additives currently used.
In terms of volume of consumption, saccharin-based sweeteners, such as Hermesetas, account for more than half of all sweeteners consumed, and have been used for longer.
Saccharin has been subject to several rounds of risk assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and also by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States.
The EFSA and the FDA have found unfounded the problems related to carcinogenicity, glycemic control, body weight control and gut microbiota.
Stevia is a non-caloric sweetener made from steviol glycosides, composed of natural plants.
The most commonly used steviosides and rebaudioside A are extracted from the leaves of Stevia rebaudiana Bertoni, a plant native to Paraguay where leaves are traditionally used to sweeten foods and beverages.
Stevia extracts have a taste 200-300 times sweeter than sugar, which means that only very small amounts are needed.
After decades of testing, Stevia was approved in Europe in 2016 and is now used in a wide range of products.
Emerging evidence suggests that steviol glycosides have antibacterial effects and can support control of blood pressure and blood sugar.
Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that can also be used as a substitute for sugar. It is manufactured by replacing three hydrogen-oxygen groups in sugar molecules with chlorine atoms, which gives it an intense sweet taste.
This tends to be found in yoghurts, flavored milks, cereals and lighter options, such as low-calorie baked goods or ice cream.
The United States approved sucralose in 1998, and the EU approved it two years later. Sucralose has not been found to affect tooth decay and has a lesser impact on blood sugar levels compared to sugar.
The European Food Safety Authority concluded in 2011 that consuming foods and beverages containing sucralose instead of sugar can protect the teeth and help control blood pressure and blood sugar.