Sugar gets a lot of bad press. However, let’s get one thing straight; ‘sugar’ comes in two main forms; intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic sugar is the stuff found in fruits; it’s locked up within the fruits’ cells and therefore doesn’t get absorbed and released into our bloodstream quickly when we eat these foods. This type of sugar isn’t something we have to worry about (unless of course we're eating whole orchards of fruit or turning them into juices; a process which releases sugar from the cells). Extrinsic sugar is not bound up in cells (hence it is also referred to as ‘free sugar’) and is the sugar that people refer to when they talk about metabolic disease and tooth decay; for example, because it causes a rapid spike in blood sugar. Extrinsic sugars include, not only table sugar, but also ‘trendy’ maple syrup, honey and agave, as well as fruit juices and purees. We should all try to limit our intake of this type of sugar to 5% of our total energy per day, but few of us manage this.
Are artificial sweeteners safe?
In one word; yes, artificial sweeteners are safe. Artificial sweeteners have been the subject of numerous scare stories over the years; for example, some have claimed that they cause cancer or lead to weight gain. Whilst it’s true that there is a link between BMI (Body Mass Index) and artificially sweetened beverage consumption, this may simply be due to heavier people choosing this type of drink over, say water. Moreover, artificial sweeteners have been extensively tested for safety, and they may even help those with diabetes because, unlike the sugar they replace, they don’t produce a spike in blood sugar. If you would like more guidance on sugar and the role of artificial sweeteners in your diet, I currently offer bespoke 7-day meal plans and dietary consultations. To request either service, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll be very happy to help!