Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners (Aspartame, Splenda & Truvia) and Natural, Healthy Alternatives

Scientific research has shown that artificial sweeteners like Aspartame, Splenda, and Truvia are very hazardous to our health. Aspartame, the common zero calorie synthetic sweetner, in diet sodas, sports drinks, flavored waters & teas, nearly ALL chewing gum (and I am not just talking about the "diet" ones), children's drinks, discovered to be a dangerous neurotoxin; and scientific evidence suggests that it may lead to neurological disorders like Parkinson's and Multiple Sclerosis. With my mother and twin sister both having Multiple Sclerosis (MS), I am very cautious about this synthetic ingredient. Although, my sister (who has MS yet is in very healthy shape right now) and I avoid Aspartame completely; our mother at the youthful age of 48, however, is completely paralyzed from the neck down and is living in a nursing home where she has been living for 12 years because of the debilitating effects Multiple Sclerosis has had on her body. Now, what is the one thing that our mother has been consuming daily for all of this time? Aspartame; in her diet soda and in the form of "Sweeten Low" in her iced tea...everyday. Now, I am not saying that Aspartame caused her disease, I just have a sense of concerned intuition about the safety of this ingredient. My mother strongly opposes leaving Aspartame out of her diet because she "loves it" and refuses to believe that it could be harmful to her body. I personally think that she is physically addicted to Aspartame.

There is a very informative documentary that I think everyone should watch called "Sweet Misery: A Poisoned World" that talks about the effects of Aspartame by doctors, scientists, and victims of this very common additive in our food supply. I strongly advise that everyone sit down and watch this film and show it to your friends and family. Here is a link to the full film:

Now, I know that many people believe that Splenda is a healthy sugar substitute; however it is over-processed and thus transformed into a chlorocarbon, with a molecular structure closely resembling chlorine-based DDT, the banned pesticide. Please look at this article by and these short video clips by Dr. Mercola about the dangers of Splenda:

Unfortunately "Truvia" is now being advertised as a "healthy and natural" alternative to sugar; however, like Splenda, it too is overly-processed and has posed concern to scientists and doctors about it's safety. Please check out these links about the health concerns of "Truvia"...and please do your own research:

You may now be asking..."What is the answer to the sugar substitute madness?!" Well, there are several NATURAL and HEALTHY choices out there for you to try. First of all, local, all-natural honey is a great and very medicinal sugar alternative (I even use honey in baking); pure maple syrup and molasses are also natural, healthy choices.

Stevia products that you can find at your local health food stores are extracts from the Stevia plant and are very healthy for you. These places shouldn't carry Truvia I assure you...I know because I work at Akins Natural Foods Market and we don't carry it. Also, something that my husband Joe and I love to use is the actual Stevia leaf; we make our own herbal tea blends and add just a few pinches of Stevia leaf to our herbal tea blend (our favorite right now is Sassafras, Sarsaparilla, Licorice, Peppermint, Star Anise, Stevia leaf, and a hint of Cinnamon...mmm, divine)! You can find Stevia Leaf in this charming herb shop on Etsy it is called "Spirit Herbs"; here is their link to their Stevia Leaf listing:

Now, there is also another healthy and natural sugar substitute that I am very curious about...coconut sugar! Please check out this fascinating article about Coconut Sugar from Natural News:


Jennifer Vance said...

True.I try to avoid artificial sweeteners whenever possible.The word artificial should say something.There was a guy in a store I was in a few days ago,and I forgot how exactly he said they affect the body,but it's pretty serious.
I've tried coconut sugar,and I love it!Another natural sweetener to try is agave.
If I have a lot of regular sugar,and/or cow's products,my lymph nodes swell up,and hurt,cause my body can't handle it.It's almost like a cold.In fact,once i ate some ice cream when I shouldn't,and I had lot of the symptoms of a cold.I'm thinking that a lot of kids getting sick is because of their diet,partly cause it comprises the immune system when you eat foods that you're allergic/intolerant to,or is just bad for you,and like i said,I get sick from some foods without getting a bug.....I also have celiac,which is partly why I can't eat sugar and dairy much.I haven't had a problem with agave.

Eco-Friendly Freckles said...

Thank you Jennifer for the informative comment! Working at a health food store myself, I am often seeing people who cannot eat particular foods; the foods I frequently see avoided include: dairy (lactose-intolerant), gluten (typically people with celiac), and soy products (people who are trying to reduce their amount of phytoestrogens). Agave is a good, natural sweetener; the reason why I don't use it in my diet is because it has a high level of fructose and I prefer honey. Here is an interesting article that talks about agave:

It is so good that you have pinpointed what was making you sick; I encourage a lot of our ill costumers to evaluate what they are eating to see if what they are consuming is what is making them sick. It is sad to see small children getting sick and I think their poor diets are definitely a contributing factor...parents need to start focusing on reading labels! I can't wait to try coconut sugar! Oooh, this is my next fun experiment!

Lindsey said...

Thank you for posting this. For quite some time, I have avoided anything with unnatural sweeteners. However, I did use Splenda as a substitute for sugar a few times earlier this year. One thing that I noticed, and which ultimately caused me to discontinue it's use, was that anyone who ate my baking (cookies, cakes, etc) had awful stomach problems within hours of consumption. That's when I up and threw it all away. Now, I use white sugar mostly, with some honey thrown in.

What really irks me, however, is when people offer kids sugar free versions of candy and treats, saying that they are healthier than the real alternatives. I wish more people really knew about the dangers of these overused artificial sweeteners.

Eco-Friendly Freckles said...

Thank you for the input Lindsey! It is so good that you quit using Splenda after noticing the health issues it may have been causing. I know people who love Splenda so much that they refuse to consider that it might be causing some of their person in particular is always sick with IBS and other problems.

It also disturbs me when I see children eating/drinking things "diet". What really makes me upset is when I see chewing gums with sugar in them and aspartame added (it seems like ALL of the mainstream chewing gums are like this). I am a huge fan of honey! :-D

José said...

Hi there,

I always, or at least most of the times, buy, eat and drink products with natural sugar.
At least I know that I'm having something natural, especially sugar, which is something that doesn't even need a "best before" date.


Jennifer Vance said...

Thanks for sharing the article.I usually use less than other things cause it's so sweet,so I think I'm ok,as long as I don't use much.I think I'll do some more research on it,too.I tend to rotate between different sweeteners,honey,agave,maple syrup,coconut sugar,stevia,and sometimes cane sugar.(With all those different sweeteners,how can you be bored!)And then again,one of my doctors said stevia wasn't good for you,but I think it's fine,as long as you don't overdo it.There's a lot worse things to consume,lol.And I do love honey.My mom calls me Pooh Bear sometimes.

P.S.Thanks for following my blogs!You made my day.

Andrea said...

Found this little excerpt in my May 2010 Parenting magazine under "mom {health}":

"Insulin Overload >>> People who drink an average of five regular sodas a week are twice as likely to develop pancreatic cancer, according to a large 14-year study from Singapore. Soda's high sugar content makes the pancreas work harder to produce insulin _ the hormone that shuttles all the sweet stuff into cells _ which could lead to an increased risk of cancerous cell growth (gulp)."

Great post. I try to tell myself "everything in moderation ... even moderation in moderation" ... Meaning a little won't kill you, but the long term continuation can certainly take its toll on you, or in this case, your pancreas.

Artificial sweeteners are certainly something I would avoid because they are simply just scary (unnatural poisons basically). However, something like agave nectar, which is naturally derived, I would suggest to use it in moderation. I wonder with it being so sweet if you are able to use less of it than you would another natural sweetener? My favorite natural sweetener in pure maple syrup ... if it wasn't so pricy for the amount you get, I would sweeten with it much more often. :-)

Wendy said...

This was interesting to read!
I thought that since SoBe lifewater and Vitaminwater Zero had "stevia" in it, they would be great, I was so happy! It was a hot Summer and I was drinking 3 or 4 20 oz bottles of these "waters"....I started feeling the way I do when I consume anything with Aspartame or even Splenda....terrible! Aching joints, brain fog,'s a terrible thing.
At least I've come to my senses AGAIN!
It's good to know that the little stevia plant is okay to use in my coffee or tea and I guess I'll just have to drink my water plain...or with lemon.
Thanks for the post
Cheers! Wendy