Just Eat Real Food…Avoid the Sweeteners!

So we’re heading into the back end of January and everyone has begun their fresh start (and maybe abandoned it already!) People have made their lifestyle change because ‘it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle!’, but what kind of lifestyle?. Many people will be on and off some kind of diet all year round. When you go into the supermarket, do you read labels on food? Do you take notice of the little nutritional traffic light system? Would you avoid a product if the label were red because of too much of a particular nutrient such as fat? Does this method of labelling sway your choice when it comes to your food shopping? There are several ways to look at this…

There are food and supplement companies out there that provide a variety of products to help you achieve your desired weight and or/shape. These products are designed to be a replacement for something else you may eat. For example eating a light yogurt instead of a natural one. These ‘light’ products will invariably aim to be lower in calories and lower in fat and this feature will be an important part of the advertising campaign.

This fixation on reducing fat in the diet has been a damaging one, in my opinion (see blog post: Is fat the problem?). This has led to an attitude amongst the public (especially those trying to change their shape) to avoid foods that are naturally high in fat.dreamstime_xs_13874647

When the ‘low fat’ and ‘low calorie’ is advertised, the inference is that it is healthy. This targets people counting calories and avoiding fat. What is actually in these products? If we use a ‘Muller light greek style yoghurt’ as an example of an aggressively marketed product, advertised as ‘fat free’. But if we take a look at the ingredients list  (Taken from Muller website):

“Yogurt, Strawberries (8%), Water, Fructose, Modified Maize Starch, Gelatine, Flavourings, Citric Acid, Stabiliser: Pectins; Sweetener: Aspartame; Beetroot Juice Concentrate”.

Why do you need to add these extra ingredients in? Why does the list not just say ‘yogurt’ as it would in natural yogurt?

If you remove fat from yogurt, it’s not natural anymore. Sugar (in the form of fructose) has been added in, this will contribute to bad health and shape, the very thing you’re trying to avoid!

If it wasn’t enough to add sugar, an artificial sweeter has been added (aspartame).

Artificial sweeteners have been associated with some undesirable outcomes (Croxton, 2011 & Hartwigs, 2012) and according to Wiley, (2000) “all of them except saccharine, affect the body as a carbohydrate” Are they used to keep the calorie count down and make the yogurt palatable?

Gedgaudas (2011) advises elimination of artificial sweeteners from the diet…”avoid them like the plague”, explaining that “studies show these substances are more likely to make you fat than thin”.

Harcombe (2010) in her book “The Obesity epidemic” referred to a review of aspartame studies by Dr. Ralph Walton where “92% of independently funded research identified a problem” with aspartame.

With regard to the addition of fructose, this just increases sugar in-take in an unnatural way and does not improve health. Dr Robert Lustig includes a comprehensive damning of Fructose in his book “Fat Chance”

There are other examples, such as ‘Weightwatchers’ yogurt, ingredients taken from Tesco

“Yogurt,Strawberry (12%) ,Fructose Syrup ,Gelatine ,Modified Maize Starch ,Colour: Anthocyanins ,Stabilisers: Pectin, Guar Gum ,Flavourings ,Sweeteners: Aspartame, Acesulfame K ,Acidity Regulators: Citric Acid, Calcium Malates”

 Again we see sugar added in the form of Fructose syrup and two artificial sweeteners: Aspartame and Acesulfame K.

Acesulfame K has been shown to have a similar effect on blood glucose and insulin secretion as glucose (Liang et al, 1987)

If we take a look at Herbalife meal replacement shake, Cookies & Cream Flavour (Taken from Herbalife):

cookies and cream label1

Again we see Fructose and various other ingredients of which I can’t even identify. Sucralose, which is another artificial sweetener, is also present. Cookies and cream flavour, really? Is this real food? Another ingredient you may notice on this list is Carrangeenan, this has been linked with intestinal inflammation (Hartwigs, 2012 and Bhattacharyya et al, 2008)

dreamstime_xs_32703229We see ‘Slimfast’, another popular shake for dieters has an equally garbage ingredient list (taken from Slimfast):

“Skimmed Milk Powder, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Cocoa Powder (10%), Inulin, Vegetable Oil, Lactose, Thickeners (Gum Arabic, Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum), Milk Protein, Stabilisers (Sodium Carboxy Methyl Cellulose, Dipotassium Phosphate), Emulsifer (Soya Lecithin), Vitamins and Minerals*, Modified Maize Starch, Antioxidants (Tocopherol- rich Extract, Sodium Ascorbate), Flavouring.”

Again, sugar, sweeteners and other added ingredients.

Real food does not have a label.

Be aware of so-called ‘health foods’ with extra added ingredients and chemicals.

Make a decision on what you want. Do you want temporary weight loss or long term health and stable body composition? If you want the latter you need to avoid artificial food products with added chemicals and just eat real food.

References and further reading:

Bhattacharyya, S et al, 2008 Toll Like Receptor 4 Mediates Induction of the Bcl10-NF kB-Interleukin-8 Inflammatory Pathway by Carrageenan in Human Intestinal Epithelial Cells J. Biol. Chem. 2008, 283:10550-10558.

Croxton, S. 2011, Dark side of Fat Loss eBook

Gedgaudas, N. 2011, Primal Body Primal Mind

Harcombe, Z. 2010, The Obesity Epidemic

Hartwig, D&M. 2012 It Starts with Food

Liang, Y et al, 1987 The effect of Artificial Sweetener on Insulin Secretion 1. The Effect of Acesulfame K on Insulin Secretion in the Rat (Studies in Vivo). Horm Metab Res 1987; 19(6): 233-238.

Lustig, R. 2014, Fat Chance The Hidden Truth About Sugar, Obesity and Disease

Walton, R.G. Survey of Aspartame Studies: Correlation of Outcome & Funding Sources

Wiley, T.S. 2000 Lights Out Sleep, Sugar and Survival

1 Comment on Just Eat Real Food…Avoid the Sweeteners!

  1. What’s up, everything is going sound here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, that’s genuinely good,keep up writing.

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