24 August 2009

The real deal on fake sugar

Fake sugars are yet another unnecessary, unnatural chemical too often added to food products. Ever heard of aspartame or sucralose? Even if you haven't, I bet you've consumed something today that contains one or the other.

Their effects on your health have long been debated. One day they are safe a the very next some new study has come out linking them to cancer, heart problems, etc. Who knows what the truth is anymore. I'm no scientist (yet), and can't claim whether or not they are actually "safe" to use or not (though aspartame accounts for 75% of all reported complaints to the FDA...). What I can tell you is they are in fact chemicals created in a lab and they can contribute to weight gain and insulin issues.

Let's see how they work...

Remember the other day we talked about how our brain is wired to crave carbohydrates? When you eat something sweet (or carbohydrates at all for that matter), your tongue sends signals to the brain. These signals tell the brain that energy is coming in and to get the liver started up and ready to work producing insulin to maintain normal blood sugar. This is called the cephalic phase response. Unfortunately, when you consume a chemical sweetener, it's a false alarm. No calories (or carbohydrates) are coming in to burn and the liver begins to get a bit confused. The liver sends signals back to the brain asking where the heck the food is. The insulin the liver has produced has already begun to lower your blood sugar slightly. The liver gets a little upset at this point because it was content and busy burning the fuel from your fat cells.

This low blood sugar situation causes us to crave carbohydrates in an attempt to regain a more normal blood sugar. Too bad the majority of carbohydrates chosen by most of America after a diet soda are the high glycemic ones (the ones that raise blood sugar way too high).

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