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Alternative Sweeteners: Sweet Substitutes That Don't Sacrifice Your Health

various assortment of sweeteners

The good news is, more and more people are paying attention to their health. We’re eating more veggies, moving our bodies, drinking more water, getting more sleep, stretching, meditating, journaling, saying ‘no’ more often, spending more time with our loved ones, and generally protecting our peace. This is a huge step in the right direction for humans, especially Americans, where the western diet and lifestyle has wreaked havoc on our health conditions.

The not so good news - although many are doing their research to make informed decisions about their minds, bodies, and spirits, there is still a lot of false information about “healthy choices” circling around out in the world. One of those topics: alternative sweeteners.

The Problem With Alternative Sweeteners

Many people now turn to alternative sweeteners in hopes of lowering their sugar intake. Unfortunately, most people are trying to satisfy their sugar cravings with these replacements - meaning they could be consuming them in high amounts thinking “Hey, it’s healthy!”

While there is truth in the notion that natural sweeteners and sugar alternatives are better than refined sugar (which, it’s not hard to be), there is a significant downfall that comes from this line of thinking.

coconut sugar

There is a recent trend in the United States riding on the coattails of the hunt for a healthy lifestyle. We’re talking about the natural sweetener option that many people believe is better for you because it isn’t refined. Options like these include:

  • Coconut sugar
  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses

However, these replacements are not as different from sugar as you might believe. Even if they are all natural, your liver still can’t process high amounts of the fructose found in these options. It’s true that because they are natural sugars, they have less amounts of fructose. But the amount of fructose is still really high, which is the whole point of avoiding sugars to begin with.

Although some might believe so, these substitutes are not a quick fix to gaining control of your health.The reason for this is because, when consumed in high amounts over long periods of time, natural sugars and sugar replacements can increase sugar cravings and contribute to weight gain or type 2 diabetes.

For those who subscribe to a typical western diet - high in processed foods and refined sugar and carbohydrates - high amounts of sugar can cause multiple health issues. This is particularly troublesome for those who are overweight or living with insulin resistance.

If you are living with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, it is especially beneficial to avoid alternative sweeteners because they can seriously disturb the balance within your gut microbiome and increase your intestinal permeability.

monk fruit sweetener

The issue with foods sweetened with Monk Fruit is that they also contain filler sweeteners as well. One of the common filler sweeteners combined with Monk Fruit sweeteners is dextrose, which can lead to a laundry list of health problems when consumed in high amounts.This also changes the nutritional profile and you might end up consuming more sugar than you intended to.

On top of that, there is a certain compound found in Monk Fruit, called mogrosides. This can stimulate the secretion of insulin which is unhelpful for people who already overproduce insulin.

Additionally, Monk Fruit sweeteners are still relatively new to the U.S. market and have not yet undergone studies in humans as extensively as other sweeteners.

agave nectar

Agave is insanely high in fructose which we know is very difficult for your liver to metabolize in high amounts. When your liver gets overwhelmed with fructose, it will begin turning into fat which is believed to lead to fatty liver disease. This in turn can lead to long-term increased levels of blood sugar and insulin, increasing your risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

How much fructose is in agave nectar? You might be shocked to learn that this substance is 84 percent fructose.

stevia sweetener and leaves

Stevia is another artificial sweetener that can come with fillers such as dextrose and maltodextrin. As mentioned before, we have to be wary of fillers because of the health issues they can cause, especially with those who have underlying health concerns.

One study suggests a possible link between Stevia and an upset in your good gut flora, also known as dysbiosis. Your gut microbiome is a delicate environment and can change characteristics based on what is in your diet. If you know you have a sensitive gut, it’s best to avoid this particular sweetener.

Alternatives to the Alternatives

So how do you enjoy a little sweetness in your life while avoiding these harmful replacements? The best pathway is to incorporate whole foods with high nutrient density as often as possible. Foods such as:

  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Apples
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Plain yogurts

Small amounts of sugars are still found in these foods, however, they are rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. These are all naturally sweet foods that come with the benefit of nutrients. That’s why this is our preferred way to satisfy that sweet tooth.

All Natural Products

All of our OWL products are packed with nutritious vegetables, roots, spices, and healing herbs. These support your gut health (and therefore your overall health) by reducing inflammation, balancing your blood sugar, and regulating your digestion. The best part - they are low in sugars, void of any alternative sweeteners, and delightfully delicious.

When you’re looking for something tasty yet nourishing, we’ve got your back.

Julie Weller

Julie is a self-made writer on a forever journey of fitness and health. As a high school music teacher, she has seen and experienced the challenges of maintaining good health while simultaneously balancing a career and healthy relationships.

Julie has always lived a healthy and active lifestyle. She loves the outdoors, hiking, and camping. Over the years she has continued to learn smarter and better ways to take care of her body while continuing to do the things that make her smile. Naturally, all of her teacher friends wanted to know how she did it - what was her secret?

Julie found herself explaining over and over everything she'd learned in her research, and sharing her experiences through trial and error. Her friends would take her advice, try some new things, and then come back to ask how to take it to the next level.

"You should charge for this kind of information!" Became a constant phrase, and so began her career of writing to share her knowledge with the world through health and wellness companies looking to spread healing and healthy habits within their communities. Now Julie gets to combine two of the things she enjoys most - writing and wellness - and use them to affect change in a real way.

When not making music with her kiddos, or writing wellness tips for a higher quality of life, you can find her reading, hiking, drumming, and fitnessing