Thursday, 12 January 2012

To Sweeten or not to Sweeten that is the question

The first thing I notice about my shopping trip up to Countdown is the extraordinary amount of money I saved.  It is definitely a myth that eating healthier costs more!

I looked around the supermarket with a new set of eyes yesterday. Examining every label, reading every ingredient, counting up pro points and doing my sums! 

One of the things that does bother me though hugely is the ‘diet foods’ and the amount of artificial sweeteners in them.  I am making a conscious decision to avoid these foods after some years ago reading a horrifying article about sweeteners and how they believed that not enough research had been done on them and they were being linked to everything from cancer to depression.

Some information below from a website called Fitday about sweeteners, their contents and some of the concerns regarding them.

Aspartame - Phenylalanine, aspartic acid and methanol.
Reported side effects - Headaches, fibromyalgia, anxiety, memory loss, arthritis, abdominal pain, nausea, depression, heart palpitations, irritable bowel syndrome, seizures, neurological disorders, vision problems, brain tumours and weight gain.
Concerns: Phenylalanine and aspartic acid directly impact brain and central nervous system functions; evidence shows they play a role in mood disorders, memory problems and other neurological illnesses.
Methanol is converted into formaldehyde when metabolized.  Makers of aspartame say methanol and its by-products are quickly excreted.  But research has found measurable amounts of formaldehyde in the livers, kidneys and brains of test subjects after ingestion of aspartame.
At high temperatures, phenylalanine breaks down into diketopiperazine (DPK), a known carcinogen. Phenylalanine is especially dangerous for people with the hereditary disease, phenylketonuria.

Aceslulfame-K -Acesulfame-K is a potassium salt containing methylene chloride, a known carcinogen.
Reported side effects: Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause nausea, headaches, mood problems, impairment of the liver and kidneys, problems with eyesight and possibly cancer. Acesulfame-K may contribute to hypoglemica. 
Concerns: Of all artificial sweeteners, acesulfame-K has undergone the least scientific scrutiny. Early studies showed a potential link between the sweetener and development of multiple cancers in laboratory animals. 

What's in it: Sucralose is a synthetic additive created by chlorinating sugar. Manufacturers say the chlorine in sucralose is no different from that in table salt. Fact: the chemical structure of the chlorine in sucralose is almost the same as that in the now-banned pesticide DDT.
Reported side effects: Head and muscle aches, stomach cramps and diarrhoea, bladder issues, skin irritation, dizziness and inflammation.
Concerns: Research has shown sucralose can cause shrinking of the thymus gland, an important immune system regulator, and liver and kidney dysfunction. A recent study by Duke University found sucralose reduces healthy intestinal bacteria, which are needed for proper digestion and can impact the effectiveness of prescription and other drugs.
Saccharin - Saccharin is a sulfa-based sweetener; its primary ingredient is benzoic sulfimide.
Reported side effects: For those with sulfa allergies, saccharin may cause nausea, diarrhoea, skin problems or other allergy-related symptoms.
Concerns: Early safety studies of saccharin showed the sweetener caused bladder cancer in rats. The FDA recently lifted the requirement that saccharin be labelled as a probable carcinogen on food packaging. 
The link between saccharin and bladder cancer has contributed to saccharin being the most investigated of all artificial sweeteners. To date, no connection between saccharin and bladder cancer in humans has been proven.
Switching out artificial sweeteners for all-natural, low-sugar substitutes is a smart option; you just might feel better.  

If you Google sweeteners you will find a huge amount of information come up about the dangers, with numerous YouTube videos with well-respected doctors almost begging people to steer clear.

It’s the only thing I don’t like about weight watchers so far is the amount of artificial sweeteners in products, when there are natural sweeteners like stevia on the market.  I notice that Equal a brand that has been slated in the news regarding sweeteners and their detrimental effects now has their new ‘Stevia Sweetener’ out and wonder if this is something we will see more and more artificial sweeteners being replaced with the natural versions.

I believe at some point in the not to distant future we will see a spat of court cases appearing as people link their illness to the overuse of sweeteners.  I read one article not so long ago about a person who had been misdiagnosed with MS and only through one clever doctor they discovered it was in fact that they drank 15 cans of diet cola a day and had effectively been poisoning themselves.  Within 3 weeks they were up out of their wheelchair and within six months living a normal life once more, free of pain and free of the depression that had accompanied it.   It’s definitely all food for thought.

Let’s face it, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise you shouldn’t put chemicals in your body and that we should be eating less processed food, chemical and addictive free foods and as much organic as you can afford. The problem I find with organic of course is the price. 

I am seriously considering kick-starting my vege patch back into existence as not only is it cheaper but it tastes so much better.  The kids really enjoy the gardening too.  We grew sweetcorn from seed last year and the joy on Charlotte’s face when she actually sat down to eat one was awesome.

 So in answer to my own question and after a lot of reading a research it’s a no brainer for me…not to sweeten.

We finally got back out and walking today thank goodness and dug a huge pit on the beach.  Something my Dad used to do with me when I was little.  They we made sand chairs and beds and happily laid in our large hole before marching back to work!  The weather has stayed reasonably fine today...dare we hope the Summer is arriving?

Reason 8 for losing weight

I want to wear a bikini (or even a swimming costume would do) on the beach instead of a pair of shorts and t-shirt!

Interesting sites I found you might like to read more about sweeteners and associated dangers –


  1. Hi Kate, thanks for the info on artificial sweeteners! Very scary! I've started recently reading a book called "Sweet Poison" its all about how eating fructose (sugar) is really bad for you. And how cutting sugar in general out of your diet is a hugely successful way to loose weight. I'm trying it myself...we will see if I can break my sugar addiction, apparently its as addictive as cocaine or amphetamines! All the best with your weightloss too.

    1. Will have to look that book up, it sounds good. I think the thinking really has to get to the point where no sugar is good sugar. It's going to take some serious training but the more I read about artificial sugars, real sugars it truly does seem to be one of life's real poisons.

  2. I hear you on this one! Since I changed the way I eat and the way I feed my family I can hardly find anything at the supermarket to buy! My mentors told me when I started out that the only things worth buying at the supermarket are loo paper and rubbish bags, and they are so right! I look at everything differently now, I can't even buy any fruit or veg at the supermarket because it all looks so old and dead and quite honestly, gross. I too am embarking on the gardening route, having just attended week 1 of my 6 week Eco Living course last night. Keep us (me) up to date with the garden progress! xx

    1. Great cabbages finally ready this week, just planted new lettuces and other exciting things. Just wish I had got on with it earlier. I know what you mean about the supermarket. Found out this week one of my daughters can't have milk and I think it's time for the next stage in this lifestyle change and to crank it up to the next level. Love the sound of your 'raw' eating, sounds frightening too it sounds very hard to stick to but the results sound amazing, might be worth a trial me thinks.


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