You’ve probably heard that “sugar is bad for you” lecture more than once in your lifetime. Whether from your parents, your doctor, or your dentist, there’s a number of reasons that staying away from sugar can benefit your overall health. However, if you crave sweets and love your sugary treats, it is difficult and unrealistic to expect someone to cut it out from their diet entirely and for the rest of their life. The good news is that there are natural substitutes for sugar, which can help quench any sugar cravings.
Why Sugar is Not Good for Your Health
Before going over the natural alternatives for sugar, it is helpful to better understand why sugar is not good for your health. There actually is a reason the people that care about your health tell you to stay away.
First and foremost, sugar significantly impacts your body’s insulin levels and fat storage. As a result, it’s been the culprit to a number of health conditions including obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. Second, there is research to support that sugar can be extremely addictive, similar to an addiction of other drugs. Like other substances associated with addiction, sugar contains similar binging, withdrawal, and craving behaviors that many other substances do. Last, but certainly not least, sugar is the major cause of cavities and a number of other dental conditions. The sugar found in the foods and drinks you consume eventually begin to wear down enamel and any bacteria that gets into the tooth begins to decay the tooth and gums.
If you are experiencing dental issues caused by the decaying properties of sugar, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Kao Periodontics to seek out the appropriate treatment.
These natural substitutes are better for you than the processed sugars found in a number of foods and drinks that may be a part of your daily diet.
Stevia is a 100% natural sweetener that comes from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant out of South America. Not only does it contain zero calories, but it is believed to lower insulin and blood sugar levels, effectively fighting back against the effects of diabetes.
Honey is a naturally sweet, thick, syrup-like substance produced by honey bees. Honey is known to contain a number of antioxidants that are helpful for lowering risk of disease. It is known to help increase the good cholesterol (“HDL”) levels while lowering the bad cholesterol (“LDL”) and triglyceride levels. Honey is still sugar and not completely void of the negative side effects of sugar. However, given some of its positive health benefits, it is considered a “not as bad” option over sugar.
Maple syrup is a naturally thick liquid made from cooking down the sap of maple trees. Similar to honey, it contains a few minerals and has antioxidants that are known to help lower the risk of certain diseases. Also like honey, it is still sugar and should not be consumed excessively.
Fruits are a great alternative for sweet treats and have been helpful in serving as a substitute for other sweet treats for many that have a sweet tooth. While they still contain sugar, these sugars are natural and are therefore processed differently in the body that other sugars found in some of the processed foods and drinks that we consume.
Sweeteners to Avoid
In addition to the natural sugar substitutes recommended above, it is also helpful to know which sweeteners to avoid. Many food and drink products are made with sugar substitutes or other artificial sweeteners to make them taste good, but they may just as bad (or worse!) for you than sugar. Here are some of the sweeteners and sugar substitutes to avoid.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup
High-fructose corn syrup, also known as “HFCS” for short, is a sweetener that is made from corn syrup and is often found in soft drinks and a number of other processed foods. It contains a high amount of fructose, as its name so implies, and therefore it is equally as harmful as sugar.
Agave nectar is from the agave plant. It is marketed as a natural alternative to sugar; however, it is actually much higher in fructose content than sugar and should be avoided.
Aspartame is an artificial sweetener often found in a number of processed foods and is often used in diet soda, sugar-free gum, sugar-free candies, and sugar-free ice cream. While FDA-approved and declared safe for consumption, aspartame has more recently been a part of a lot of scrutiny, particularly when other artificial sweeteners (like saccharin and cyclamate) were removed from the market after being declared unsafe and potentially harmful to your health. Aspartame is made of aspartic acid and phenylalanine, both of which are natural amino acids found in your body and other foods.
Can I Eat Sugar at all?
In conclusion, like most things in life, sugar should be consumed in moderation. The most important part of your sugar consumption is whether it is affecting your health. If you consume a lot of sugary foods and drinks on a daily basis, rather than go cold turkey and eliminate those things from your diet, try cutting them back. If you drink several sodas each day, try cutting back one soda per day over a period of time. As you begin to reduce the amount of sugary foods and drinks you consume, the cravings you have for them will begin to dissipate. You can also utilize some of the above recommendations to help you substitute sugar, particularly those sugars found in processed foods. The decrease in your sugar consumption will have long-term benefits for your overall health in the long run, making it easier to stay at a healthier weight and help keep diabetes and heart disease away!
Periodontist in Los Angeles
Sugar can impact your oral health. Regardless of how much sugar you consume, it is always important to take care of your teeth. When was the last time you had a check-up? If you are in need of a periodontist in Los Angeles and are interested in a dental check-up, contact our friendly dental team at (213)250-7554 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.