What’s worse than sugar?
SUGAR is probably considered the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. But not sugar-coating anything, nutritionist and dietician Jenelle Solomon said while noting that sugars are not on our list of healthy foods, the real culprits are its artificial brothers, which when consumed in large quantities can increase blood sugar levels, spike insulin, and cause the transfer of existing body fluids, particularly those around the waist area, into fat cells. This action will trigger hunger and lead to overeating.
She said sugar in its natural form is often mistaken as a poison to the body; however, there are other foods that could have more adverse effects on the body. Below she shares a few:
Foods containing artificial sweeteners and synthetic sugar substitutes
"These sugars found in sodas and other artificially flavoured drinks are normally a lot sweeter when compared to regular sweeteners and have become popular because they add a negligible amount of calories, if any at all," Solomon said. She said that some of the most dangerous artificially produced sweeteners are aspartame, neotame, saccharin, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. "But even on this list, I want you to take special note of aspartame and sucralose, and avoid them entirely," Solomon warned.
"Sucralose is a synthetic organochlorine compound with endocrine-disrupting properties, a major ingredient in Splenda, an artificial sweetener used by many diabetics," Solomon said. She noted that successive research has found that its properties encourage a reduction of the healthy bacteria in the intestines, while increasing the pH levels and simultaneously contributing to weight gain. Additionally, Solomon said that sucralose is also made of chlorinating sucrose — a known carcinogen — a substance capable of causing cancer in living tissues. It is also associated with various serious diseases, including type 2 diabetes and heart diseases.
"Aspartame is sometimes disguised under the sweeteners Equal or Nutrasweet. Some products that contain this are yoghurt, sodas and chewing gum," Solomon said. Scientific information has suggested that it contributes to brain tumours, mental retardation, diabetes and birth defects.
High fructose corn syrup
Many of the processed foods you consume are high in fructose. Medical reports have suggested that an increase in the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup has led to high levels of obesity and related health problems, particularly because of how the body processes it. Importantly, only the liver can process fructose in significant amounts, which means that excessive consumption may tax the liver. Additionally, fructose is said to interfere with the proper functioning of the hormones ghrelin — which signals hunger to the brain, and leptin — which generates a feeling of satiety, which may cause you to overeat. This is in addition to tooth decay, diabetes, and heart disease.