Are you trying to kick your sugar habit? Whether you’re looking to lose weight, or you’re just trying to limit your sugar intake, it’s relatively easy to substitute pure sugar with something more natural and with virtually no calories. Natural sweeteners are quite common, and you probably use some in your daily life, but they aren’t as healthy as most people believe. In fact, if consumed too much, they can make you crave sweets and sugar even more.
In this article, we go over a few of the most popular sugar substitutes, derived from natural resources, and explain why they aren’t as healthy as diet culture would have you believe.
Honey is a common natural sweetener that many people use. It’s relatively low on the glycemic index, and studies show that replacing sugar with this natural sweetener could lower your blood sugar and aid in weight loss.
If looking to switch to honey, look for local and organic honey in your area, as many honey products you find at grocery stores can be heavily processed. Honey is also high in calories, and if not careful, those calories can sneak up on you and make it difficult to lose weight.
Stevia is one of the most popular sugar substitutes, which comes from a plant of the same name. It has a glycemic index of 0, so basically, no calories come from this sweetener. It is much sweeter than sugar, so a little can go a long way, and it’s best to use it in small amounts.
Many versions of stevia are highly refined, and many brands pair dextrose or maltodextrin with their stevia, which has hidden carbs and calories. Look out for these things to ensure you’re staying below your calorie limit, especially if weight loss is the goal. There are also very limited studies that suggest raw stevia might mediate your metabolic system and disturb your gut microbiome, which affects your gut health.
Another natural sweetener that comes directly from maple trees, maple syrup is a popular choice, commonly paired with breakfast foods. With several vitamins and antioxidants, maple syrup in its purest form can be really beneficial and a great sugar substitute.
Unfortunately, many brands of maple syrup contain high fructose corn syrup, which can lead to complications in your metabolism. Even pure maple syrup is high in calories and should only be used in moderation when looking to make the switch to a natural alternative to sugar. Read the labels to ensure you are purchasing high-quality syrup that is free from added sugars.
It’s important to keep in mind that switching to natural sweeteners won’t automatically make you healthier or help you lose weight. The sugar alcohol that can be found in many alternatives is foreign to your body, which might make the breakdown of them more difficult for your digestive system. In the long run, it’s best to consume in moderation or eliminate sugar and its alternatives altogether, and, in time, your body will eventually stop craving such sweet things.
If you are concerned about your gut health or would like more information, send us a message today with our online appointment form or call for an appointment at 713.429.4550. Take control of your digestive and stomach health today with help from Gastro Health & Nutrition and our gastroenterologist.