Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth: The Healthy Way to Indulge Without the Guilt

If you’re like me, you can’t resist the taste of sweet foods, especially during those times when cravings are high. However, there are far too many sweet foods available that contain unhealthy sweetening ingredients. But, sweet-tasting food doesn’t need to equal body fat, hormone imbalances (like insulin resistance), or chronic disease if you use healthy sweeteners.

In this article, let’s explore how various sweeteners affect health. Here are some criteria for you to consider when evaluating any sweetener:

  • Glycemic index and glycemic load: These numbers tell us how a particular sweetener will affect our blood sugar levels. Typically, low glycemic index foods are better for keeping your blood sugar stable and reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and diabetes.

  • Micronutrient content (nutritional value): Some sweeteners, like honey, may be high in glycemic load but carry multiple beneficial health effects.

  • Other adverse health effects: Some sweeteners have negative effects on your health beyond blood sugar. For example, sucrose (table sugar) can lead to fatigue, depressed mood, tooth decay, and other issues.

  • Happiness factor: Sweet foods give us pleasure, and we should also consider this factor in our decision process.

Sucrose (table sugar)

Let’s start by examining sucrose, the most common sugar in our food supply. According to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, each American consumed an average of 140 pounds of refined sugar (this does not count real food sugars) in 1980, and by 2004, it had risen to 200 pounds of sugar per person.

The scientific literature points to more than 100 adverse effects from refined sugar. These include:

  • Weakening of your immune system, as it prolongs colds or flu if consumed during the illness, slows injury healing time and acidifies your already acidic tissues. Sugar also reduces your defense against bacterial infection.

  • Impaired mineral reabsorption of calcium and magnesium in your kidneys, causing them to work harder and potentially leading to long-term damage.

  • Acceleration of skin aging and decreased skin elasticity due to changing the structure of collagen proteins. It can also make tendons more brittle.

  • Worsening of mental functioning and behavior, including contributing to anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.

  • Contribution to various lung, skin, and allergy problems, such as asthma, emphysema, eczema in children, and food allergies.

  • Increased risk of various cancers, as sugar feeds cancer cells. Refined sugar is also known to cause an increase in free radical oxidative stress.

  • Weakening of eyesight, joint or muscle pains, promoting Candida albicans yeast infection, worsening multiple sclerosis, and perpetuating small intestinal leaky gut syndrome (a major cause for chronic and autoimmune diseases).

Healthier alternatives

Refined sugar wreaks havoc on your health subtly and slowly, but it does have a high “happiness factor.” We want you to know that other healthier sweeteners are available that are just as enjoyable.

Our top picks for healthier alternatives include: pure maple syrup, raw honey, agave nectar, and stevia extract (a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener).

Each of these sweeteners has its own unique set of benefits, such as increased antioxidant levels, reduced inflammation, and improved blood sugar control.

You can also employ natural techniques to manage your sweet cravings. For example, try eating a large salad for dinner before indulging in a dessert or have an apple along with a sweet treat to offset the glycemic index and load.

Here’s to feeling good from healthy foods and sweeteners while still enjoying the deliciously sweet flavors we love.