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Dangers of Sugar Substitutes
Category : April 1993

Dangers of Sugar Substitutes

Tandavan, Devananda



The food industry has been conscious of the consumer's desire to reduce the consumption of sugar with out giving up the sweet taste. The industry for a long time supplied saccharin which had no nutritional value but did have a very sweet taste. It could not be used in cooking for it tended to turn bitter. Saccharin was subsequently withdrawn from the market because of a possible link to the causation of bladder tumors in mice. It is still available in some places.

Cyclamates were a fad for many years until they were banned for having carcinogenic properties. The FDA later reversed its position on the carcinogenic properties, but the use of cyclamates has never returned to any significant degree even though it was very inexpensive to produce. The current substitute in vogue is aspartame (sold as Equal or Nutrasweet), a protein substance made up of two amino acids, aspartic acid and phenylalanine. The substance is much sweeter than even sugar. One-tenth calorie of aspartame has the sweetening power of one teaspoon of sugar, which has 16 calories. The industry was not too happy with its introduction as it was almost as expensive as the sugar.

Certain people must not use this in any form. Those who suffer from a metabolic disorder called phenoketonuria (PKU), lack an that is necessary for the metabolism of phenylalanine. If these people have a build up in their blood of pheynalalanine there is damage to the brain leading to mental retardation. The number of people who react in this manner is not known at this time. There are also people (non-PKU) that react with dizziness, depression, headaches and possible seizures. This does not speak for the future generations" well being since it is almost impossible to find food products that do not contain this sugar substitute. As long as people do not curb their addiction to the sweet taste. They are doing their bodies an injustice.

One should use fruit drinks diluted with non-sweetened water rather than the popular "diet" drinks. The sugar in fruit is primarily fructose which is less likely to start the up and down problems of glucose in the blood, as fructose does not need insulin for its conversion.

For the future generations' decreased desire for sweets, mothers should discontinue the use of the pacifier filled with sweetened water, the so-called "sugar teat." The use of this assures that the child will have a strong desire for sweets as he grows. Sweetened breakfast cereals should not be fed to anyone. We should all make a firm effort to reduce our taste for sugar sweetness. Many foods have a naturally sweet taste, such as rice. That is acceptable. In fact we should increase the amount of complex carbohydrates as we decrease the sugar to regain a healthy balance in the body.

Honey is sweet and is only slightly less nutritionally empty than plain white sugar. Honey when cooked becomes indigestible, according to ayurveda. Honey may also be the cause of many allergic reactions due to its source being the pollen of flowers. The chemicals on the plants may also come through the honey with all of its toxins.

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.