Weight Management and Artificial Sugars
Last time we covered the very basics of thyroid disease and hormones. I hope to go into further detail on hormones soon, but I want to do a bit more research before we discuss it fully, so instead today I wanted to discuss certain aspects of what I mentioned last time was the first point of call for weight management.
Diet and exercise are important as they are the starting point for weight loss and the base for weight management. With all the information available to us it can be difficult to figure out what is actually healthy. The word ‘diet’ is often used to evoke thoughts of jean shopping, bikini clad beach trips, and a lot of food restrictions. It can also make us think of certain foods that we think are healthy. But are they?
Many people choose to drink and eat the diet, fat free, or light versions of their favourite foods either to lose weight or to prevent weight gain. Doctors and nutritionists have expressed concern about fad diets, dietary supplements and also diet food and I wanted to find out why.
The main concern for low fat, low calorie, or diet food eaters and drinkers is how artificial sugars and food substitute fillers affect the body’s natural functions. Today we are going to focus primarily on artificial sugars. Why artificial sugars? Well namely because many of us struggle with the choice between regular sodas and diet sodas. We all know that fizzy drinks are not good for us. They can cause tooth decay, kidney stones, weight gain, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and many more complications. This is all because of the high sugar and calorie content within these drinks. High fructose corn syrup consists of super refined corn sugars where some of the glucose has been converted to fructose. The high content of natural sugar in these drinks overloads our bodies with sugar, and as we know a moderate amount of sugar is acceptable but too much of anything causes problems.
In an attempt to combat these health concerns, specifically a sharp increase in obesity, companies looked for artificial alternatives to refined sugars. For many years diet sodas have been heralded as healthier alternatives to their regular sugar counterparts but as it turns out this may be a fallacy.
Artificial sugars like aspartame are shown to have negative aspects as well. Sweeteners such as Equal, Splenda, and Aspartame are now known to cause addiction, liver failure, brain tumours, and cancer when ingested in high quantities. Also have a look at how they are made. It may turn you off them. For example the most famous, or rather the most highly consumed, is probably aspartame which is found in diet coke. Aspartame’s patent confirms that faeces from E.Coli bacteria are used to create the artificial sweetener.
To add to the problem diet drinks were originally marketed as a way to have your favourite soda while losing weight or to prevent weight gain entirely. But what if I was to tell you that this too might be false? It is true that in and of themselves, low fat, low calorie, and diet alternatives contain less of everything that causes fat to be stored on the body but they also cause side effects that you may not be aware of, some of which were mentioned before. At the forefront of this list is the fact that many studies show that ingesting dietary foods and drinks tricks the body into thinking that it has ingested calories, fats, and nutrients that would normally be present in your food or drink. Without those nutrients the body, having expected to receive some fashion of calories or useable energy sources, craves those very elements that it has been denied.
Diet soft drinks are more guilty of this than other types of artificial products due to the fact that liquids are usually quicker to ingest and liquids tend to be less filling. Essentially what happens when you drink diet soda is a trick of the mind. You are telling your body that you have taken in calories when in fact you have not. You may be fooled initially but your body soon protests and the brain follows suit. Having expected to break down something and receive a nutritious benefit from your food or drink, or at the very least some energy to keep it going, the body reacts by making you feel hungrier, in an attempt to fill this void. Numerous studies have shown that those who drink diet sodas or eat low calorie foods are often going to eat more in the long run, sometimes up to twice as much as their counterparts.
You might be thinking that at the very least this will bring about an even calorie intake as eating and drinking further low calorie items will even out to be less over time. Aside from the other adverse effects mentioned earlier when eating large amounts of processed foods, drinking or eating a low calorie food or diet drink often gives us validation for eating something we like that is full fat or high in sugar. Having just ingested a substance that will cause an exaggerated expectorant, you then eat more of your full calorie or full fat favourite without even realising it. So now you’ve ingested your dietary alternative plus more of the natural substance than you would normally eat in one sitting. In the long run it has been proven that diet drinkers are more likely to gain weight and be obese than those who drink regular soda.
Doctors and nutritionists are now recommending that because of this trend, which goes mostly unnoticed by those who are actually using these artificial products, we should switch back to natural sugars, such as honey, liquid Stevia, natural sugar crystals, or anything naturally derived from plant form, which includes unaltered molasses or maple sugar (not the stuff you usually put on pancakes). Unlike their artificial cousins these sugars provide some nutritional benefits.
Ultimately the consensus is that natural is better. Your body knows what to do with natural substances. The key is calories. Natural fats and sugars are ingested and then turned into energy for your body in the form of a measurable level of heat, which we call calories. Calories are not bad for you; you need them to function. When considering your dietary needs keep in mind that you only need so many calories a day. Anything in excess of your use has the potential to be stored by your body for a later date which causes fat stores. Certain foods contain higher calories and some things are just better for you than others. So here we will say that you can have your fried chicken, donuts, regular soda, or anything else you like, and there is no need to count your calories down in minute details, but everything should be done in moderation. Enjoy the things you like but in smaller doses or less frequently. Take in plenty of water and make sure your body is getting the proper nutritional value it requires, such as vitamins and minerals, calcium and good fats to help you function. Make sure what you are taking in is being used. The best way to do that is to get your body moving. Go for a walk or make a quick visit to the gym. Also, feel free to check out our website’s section on weight loss and get more information on what constitutes a healthy diet.
As mentioned last week if your weight management is not functioning as it should no matter what you do or how much effort you put in, a visit to the doctor should be your next point of call. Tune in next week for another instalment of our weight management theme.
Until next time,