Sugar has been the downfall for many people seeking a healthier lifestyle, and those same people usually begin to wonder whether they should be using sugar alternatives – especially when they’re sweet tooth begins to ache. Although there are substitutes for sugar, many are made up of chemicals, which has many people questioning whether these alternatives are just as bad or worse than regular sugar. Sugar is just plain bad in almost every circumstance relating to a healthy diet and lifestyle, but some of it’s substitutes are no better.

Sugar and Health Problems

The Heart

Though the sugar industry has fought long and hard to make saturated fats the underlying cause of cardiovascular disease, sugar has played just as great a role in cardiovascular issues. Yes, saturated fats can cause heart disease but sugar pulls just as much weight. Ingesting too much sugar significantly increases a person’s risk of succumbing to heart disease.

The Liver

There is risk of fatty liver disease with even one sugar laced non-alcoholic drink or a processed food item, which contributes to fat build up in the liver. This disease is on the rise and is another major risk factor with over-consumption of sugar.

The Intestines

Sugar impacts the “gut” and when it combines with organisms that live in the intestinal area, sugar can change those small organisms and make the intestines vulnerable to penetration and leakage into the bloodstream, which is referred to as “leaky gut.” Eliminating sugar will help this condition as sugar feeds yeast and bad bacteria, which are damaging to the intestinal wall. Chronic leakage and inflammation that is triggered from sugar can cause obesity and other metabolic diseases.

Diabetes, Type II

The risk of Type II Diabetes is increased with the consumption of just 150 calories worth of sugar in a day, which is about equal to a can of soda. This amount can raise the risk of the disease by quite a bit, even with the consumption of other foods that don’t contain sugar or sugar derivatives.

Cancer

A number of cancers are associated with varyious types of sugar. Fructose and corn syrup can increase the risk of small intestine cancer while added sugars can affect esophageal cancer. Colon cancer is also impacted by high consumption of added sugars as is breast cancer. The risks remain even if there are no issues with weight, obesity or diabetes. Cancer development is connected with sugar, particularly glucose and fructose, and they can cause inflammation throughout the body.

Sugar Alternatives

Sugar obviously is the culprit for many health issues, but what should a person do when they want a sweet treat? While some might suggest sugar alternatives, many sugar replacements have chemical components that are harmful. Artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda), saccharin, aspartame and ACE K (Acesulfame Potassium) can have detrimental side effects, including impairments with liver and kidney function, mood disorders, migraines, other headaches, glandular afflictions and cognitive dysfunction.

Other Added Sugars

Aside from artificial sweeteners, there are refined sugars with a host of names that can be confusing, but they are still sugars. The list is endless but includes granulated white sugar, corn syrup, fructose, rice syrup, cane juice, molasses, fruit juice, nectar, beet sugar, brown sugar, dextrose, confectioner’s or powdered sugar, raw sugar, pancake syrup, maltose, lactose and others. To find added or hidden sugars in any ingredient listing, the “ose” on any word ending usually indicates a type of sugar.

More Natural Sweeteners

Natural sweeteners can be used to replace artificial sweeteners and refined sugars and consist of Stevia, raw honey, dates, Blackstrap Molasses, bananas, coconut sugar, brown rice syrup, maple syrup and real fruit jams. These sweeteners may still contain sugar but are likely less harmful to your health.

Sugar is Sugar

Sugar is sugar and should be avoided whether it is in the form of artificial sweeteners or refined sugars. Natural sweeteners can replace unhealthy versions of sugar, plus they offer considerable nutritional value through antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and can be incorporated in numerous recipes. Avoiding almost any kind of sugar is difficult, but when natural sweeteners are available and used in limited amounts, the nutritional nightmare of artificial sweeteners and refined sugar products can be avoided.