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Natural Sweeteners and Sugar Alternatives


Sugar & Sweeteners - Naturally Sweet Alternatives

Sugar comes in a variety of forms, some more natural than others. Every type of sugar provides energy to the body however each type has different characteristics.

Some are used rapidly as they do not require digestion and can be absorbed in the mouth. These sugars are known as monosaccharides. They provide energy quickly to the body as they do not need to be broken down before they are used. Some of the most common sugars we eat are called monosaccharides, better known as fructose and glucose. Fructose is abundant in fruit and is contained in most other foods such as vegetables and grains. Glucose is the main sugar used by the human body and is commonly added to energy and sports drinks.

Disaccharides are another common type dietary sugar. While these sugars are also broken down in the mouth, they do require a little digestion. Disaccharides are simply two monosaccharides molecules bound together and can be easily processed by the body. Disaccharides include sucrose, which is another name for table sugar and lactose which is naturally present in milk and dairy products.

In addition there are two other types of sugar, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. These are more complex sugars that also naturally occur in foods and are made up of several monosaccharides bound together.

Why use natural sweeteners?

Sugar is great at providing energy to the body, but sometimes at a cost. There are many associated health issues linked with sugars such a diabetes, obesity and tooth decay.

GI Index & Diabetes - When we consume sugar, our body must respond to control and normalise blood sugar levels. Insulin is released by the pancreas to balance blood sugar levels allowing the sugar to be stored in the body as fat. The more sugar we consume, the more insulin must be released to control blood sugar levels. This process is known as insulin response. Insulin response to a sugar is measured by its GI or glycaemic index. This indicates the sugars effect on a blood glucose levels. When we over consume sugar rich foods our bodies ability to produce insulin can become shocked and this stress over long periods of time is linked to disease. Diabetes is a disease where the body has an impaired ability to control blood sugar levels so the GI of a food can be very important. There are many sugar alternatives such as glycerine that have extremely low GI and provide the sweet flavours essential many foods like cakes and deserts.

Tooth Decay - Another negative of sugar is the damage it can cause to your teeth. Sugar does not directly harm your teeth, it feeds the natural bacteria found in the mouth, and it is this bacteria that causes the problem. The bacteria produce acidic waste products which over time leads to erosion of tooth enamel. Fortunately there is a good choice of natural sweeteners that can allow you to enjoy sweet flavours in your food without damaging your smile.

Weight Gain - Calorie rich sugars can be a major contributor to weight gain and obesity, which is a major health concern facing the modern world. The UK is amongst the worst countries in the world for it's obese population.

According to Birmingham University:

Obesity rates in the UK are the highest in Europe and have increased dramatically over the past few years to such an extent that in excess of 20% of the population are now obese and the costs to the UK economy exceed £3 billion per year. In Birmingham, over 25% of the population are obese - the third highest rate in the UK. The high prevalence of obesity in adults within England is alarming, with national averages of over 40% of males overweight and more than 20% obese in the 16-75 year age range, while in women the averages are lower for the overweight classification but higher for obesity.

Although obesity can be tackled through increased exercise and a better diet, for those who are already obese the health consequences are severe. On average, being obese decreases life expectancy by nearly 10 years. In addition, it is associated with dramatically increased risks of developing type 2 diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease and hyperlipidaemia. It has also been suggested that in the not too distant future, obesity could not only become the leading cause of liver failure, but also the leading cause of cancer worldwide. Further research into these obesity-related diseases is crucial. 1

Always check your sweetener carefully for calorie content.

Many turn to artificial sweeteners but safety studies prove to be inconclusive in determining the long term safety of these chemical based alternatives.

Our natural sugar alternatives can help you enjoy the sweet things in life while avoiding weight gain, abnormal insulin response and tooth decay.