How Do We Enjoy the Sweet Life Without Poisoning Ourselves?

Pure raw honey is one of the best natural sweeteners there is.
Pure raw honey is one of the best natural sweeteners there is. (Flickr)

Much has been written lately about the dangers of sugar substitutes. Countless studies have proven that these seemingly sweet, harmless, figure-friendly substances are actually snarling wolves in fluffy white sheep's clothing.

Take a look at just a few of the adverse effects of one of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market today, Splenda, also known as Sucralose:

  • It tricks your taste buds. Splenda is 600 times sweeter than table sugar. Evidence suggests that exposing your taste buds to these high-intensity sweeteners makes them less receptive to natural sources of sweetness, such as fruit. When your taste buds become dulled to the extreme sweetness, you'll likely find yourself seeking out sweeter and sweeter foods.
  • They make you overeat. Artificially sweetened foods could trick you into overeating because of the way they feel in your mouth. High-fat, high-sugar foods taste both sweet and dense, signaling to your brain that they're high in calories. But artificially sweetened foods often have a thinner consistency and texture than sugar-sweetened foods and thus, aren't as satisfying, which can quickly lead us to binge.
  • The website lists a variety of consumer complaints from Splenda consumption, such as: blurred vision, gastrointestinal problems, migraines, seizures, dizziness, allergic reactions, blood sugar increases, weight gain and more.

With facts such as those in mind—as well as personal experience!—I always tell my clients to check their food labels and pass up anything that contains: Aspartame, Acesulfame Potassium (K), Saccharin, Sucralose, Equal, NutraSweet, or Splenda (Sucralose). To save yourself some time, you can probably assume that any product that claims to be "low-calorie," "sugar-free" or "diet" includes one or more of these harmful additives.

So now for the question of the day: How do we enjoy the sweet life without poisoning ourselves?

First, a long answer (but bear with me, this is educational!): While healthier sugar substitutes do exist, such as Xylitol and Stevia, they are still heavily processed. Coca-Cola's brand, Truvia, in fact, extracts its stevia via (I had to say "via" twice!) a patented 40-step process! Many times, "natural flavors" are included in these "natural" products, which, according to former FDA head David Kessler, are a "food carnival" in your mouth. And if you didn't know, carnivals can be creepy ...

"Natural and artificial flavors play an interesting role in food. They're essentially providing the taste and often they're added to make the food more appealing, or to potentially replace something that's lost through processing, storage or in some cases even from pasteurizing," said David Andrews, senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, in an interview with CNN.

According to the CNN article, added flavoring, both natural and artificial, could contain anywhere from 50 to 100 ingredients. And like Splenda, they're not as innocent as you'd like them to be!

"The mixture will often have some solvent and preservatives — and that makes up 80 to 90 percent of the volume [of the flavoring]. In the end product, it's a small amount, but it still has artificial ingredients," Andrews says.

"Ultimately," wrote the article's author, "the difference between natural and artificial flavors often comes down to miniscule distinctions."

But what about agave nectar? That's healthy, right? Not so fast. While it used to be quite popular, agave nectar has been proven to be highly refined and high in fructose. You can learn more about it here.

Okay, now time for the short answer to relieve our, to quote Juliet, "sweet sorrow ... ."

My favorite sweetener is one the Bible mentions dozens of times, six times alone in Proverbs, a book of wisdom penned by the wisest man on earth!

"My child, eat honey, for it is good, and the honeycomb is sweet to the taste" (Prov. 24:13).

Honey—raw honey, I should emphasize—boasts a plethora of health benefits; its heavenly taste is just the icing on an already-delectable cake! Check out these facts:

  • Anti-Bacterial, Anti-Viral, Anti-Fungal (can even be used topically to treat infection)
  • Treats coughs/upper respiratory infections
  • May promote better blood sugar control
  • Experimental evidence indicates that consumption of honey may improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity compared to other sweeteners.
  • Contains antioxidants
  • Improves HDL cholesterol
  • Boosts immunity
  • Pre-digests starches for you. If you leave your raw honey on bread for 15 minutes, the amylase enzyme begins to break down the complex sugars/starches in the bread, making it ultimately easier to digest for you.
  • Pure honey is a healthier choice in diabetic diet than table sugar and any other non-nutritive sweetener, such as Splenda, saccharin, and aspartame.[3]
  • Honey is now recommended to take before bed to support a healthy night's sleep.

Here are a few simple and delicious ways to enjoy honey:

  • Mix it into your oatmeal or tea in the morning.
  • Add it to smoothies or protein shakes.
  • Spread it on a piece of toast (Ezekiel bread is my favorite!)
  • Mix it into your yogurt, or top off your own homemade parfait with it! 
  • Use it as a dip for fresh fruit.
  • Make a vinaigrette dressing with it: 1 tsp. raw honey, 1 tsp. organic soy sauce (or coconut aminos), 1/3 cup olive oil, 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Make honey lemonade: Blend 1 cup raw honey with 1 cup lemon juice. Add 6 cups of cold, filtered water.

It would behoove us to be reminded of this proverb of King Solomon's on honey, lest we follow in the paw-steps of Winnie the Pooh and get our heads stuck in a honey pot:

"Have you found honey? Eat only as much as is sufficient for you, lest you be filled with it and vomit it" (Prov. 25:16).

Like many things in life, moderation is key when it comes to enjoying honey. The recommended serving size for honey is one tablespoon, and exceeding 10 servings a day is highly discouraged. An excessive intake of honey can cause gastric problems, such as stomach cramps, bloating and diarrhea. If you continue to over-indulge on honey, long-term gastrointestinal problems could occur, impeding the absorption of nutrients. Due to honey's high acidity, too much of it can erode tooth enamel, as well as the lining of your esophagus, stomach and intestines, which can then lead to acid reflux. (I hope Pooh was spared from these maladies!)

I pray this article has been informative and helped you to see both artificial sweeteners and raw honey in a new light! And when it comes to future questions you may have about other new "Health" or otherwise "revolutionary" foods on the market, consider going to the Word of God for guidance before you buy into them. If the Lord created it and His servants, like Solomon, spoke well of it, then it follows that it's advantageous for us to consume. Conversely, if man made it and is trying to profit from it whilst concealing unflattering research about it, then chances are good it's something we should steer clear of.

"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally and without criticism, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5).

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