If you have a sweet tooth, you could be more likely to pack on pounds—even if you use artificial sweeeteners. Simple honey, the beloved agave nectar, and artificial sweeteners are all a no-no, says author Ridha Arem, M.D. who shares a healthy, natural alternative to sugar in The Thyroid Solution Diet.
Because table sugar (saccharose, a simple carb) readily spikes blood sugar and insulin levels and leads to weight gain, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes are replacing it in processed foods and beverages more and more these days. But I want you to stay away from artificial sweeteners. There are indications that consuming them in high amounts may lead to bloating and even bladder cancer. Many of my patients who turned to artificial sweeteners to satisfy a sweet tooth developed cravings for sweets, and research backs up this observation. Scientists tracking more than 450 people who drank diet soda for nearly ten years found the diet soda drinkers’ waistlines expanded a stunning 70 percent more than those of people who didn’t drink diet soda. Artificial sweeteners make your brain experience hunger without delivering any real nutrients to calm appetite.
What about “natural” sugar substitutes?
Before you jump onto this bandwagon, check out the fructose content. My patients have been asking me lately about agave nectar, whose fructose content is actually extremely high. Same goes for honey, molasses, and anything else containing fructose. These are “high-fructose corn syrup alternatives,” and you should avoid them all. If you choose to use an alternative sugar, use stevia in moderation. It’s a plant-derived sweetener that has positive effects on blood sugar compared to table sugar, and also has antioxidant properties. A little goes a long way. For fun, grow a stevia plant and use tiny amounts of its intensely sweet leaves.
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