Last week I talked about how the real enemy when it comes to your diet is sugar. Contrary to what has been the popular belief over the last 10-20 years, fat is not detrimental to health. In fact, just the opposite is true, as fat is VITAL to not only basic living, but performance and health as well. This week I’m here to talk about another pesky little booger that has blossomed into a very unhealthy aspect of every day life: Artificial Sugars/Sweeteners.
Now, let me start off by making the statement that sugar in and of itself isn’t a black and white subject. While we know that complex carbohydrates are important for good health and nutrition, simple sugars are a bit more complicated. There are times, such as during or post-workout, when simple sugars can be beneficial. On the other hand, however, are the many situations in which they are detrimental to overall health. Add to that the fact that many of them are artificial, and you’ve got yourself a deadly little cocktail.
Simple sugars themselves, as I mentioned, are not SO bad that they can’t be incorporated into a diet in moderation. The problem for most people is that they are often times artificial. So why are these artificial sweeteners and sugars so bad? Well, the truth really lies in the name, to be honest. Because they are artificial and not naturally made, your body simply does not recognize them. Since it does not recognize them as food, it does not know how to digest them. We run into to main problems with this situation.
First and foremost, we’re always left wanting more to eat. When we consume artificial sweeteners, our taste buds are left craving more and more foods, usually those similar to what you just ate. It’s almost like a snowball effect. Not only to the taste buds crave more of what you’ve just eaten, but since your body doesn’t digest all of these sugars, you don’t get full as quick. The problem with this, obviously, is that along with these sugars, we get added calories. Ever wonder why when you eat one piece of candy or cake, you often times immediately want another one??? Yeah, you know you do. I do it, too. Makes sense now, doesn’t it??
Here is an article from CNN describing these effects of artificial sugars on the body. Check it out.
Secondly, and possibly more important, is the effect that artificial sugars can have on the blood vessels throughout the body. Imagine rubbing a piece of sand paper along the inside of you artery walls. That is what happens when you consume fake foods. Once these foods get into your body, they’ve got to go somewhere. Since they aren’t digested and absorbed, they float around in the blood stream. When they do this, they get caught on vessel walls. And THIS, not a cholesterol stemming from high fat diets, is one of the leading cause of a SLEW of heart disease issues. It is really very simple once you think about it… Imagine that 5 o’clock bottle-necked construction site on your way home from work. Hard to get through, isn’t it? Takes a while, doesn’t it?? This is what’s going on inside your body. The more buildup of unfamiliar, fake foods we have on our arterial walls, the harder it is to move blood to and from the heart. Once this starts occurring, you’re in big trouble.
Here are 5 of the most common artificial sweeteners on the market today:
- Acesulfame-K (ace-K)
- Aspartame – for all of my diet soda-drinking friends
Also, just for kicks and grin, check out this article that shows what “sugar-free” drinks are really loaded with sugars.
So, what’s my point with all of this rambling. Sugars, particularly simple sugars, just like anything, are actually okay when consumed in MODERATION. It’s when the abuse occurs that they become seriously harmful. So, instead of taking the easy way out, try to consume more real, natural foods at each meal. Eat complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs. Put down the processed foods and focus on whole, natural food products.