Thursday, 14 March 2013

Natural vs. Artificial – Battle of the Sugars

We all know that we should be having at least five fruits or vegetables a day and of course 8 glasses of water, but it seems as though everyday more and more products claiming to be ‘healthier’ are stocked on the shelves of our supermarkets; not to mention the ever growing list of dietary must- do’s and don’ts that emerge in the media.

At the beginning of the year, after feeling as though I’d over indulged over the festive month, I sat down to watch Channel 5’s documentary  ‘50 Shocking Facts About Diet and Exercise’; which did not make me feel any better about all the delicious, unhealthy food I had just eaten. Though the documentary suggested some ludicrous dietary facts, such as eating 12 bananas a day could kill you, it got me thinking more about the food I’ve been eating.

Are sweeteners better than actual sugar? Who wins in the battle between margarine and butter? And who stands triumphant when it comes to diet fizzy drinks versus the original drink?

Without rambling on about calories, GDA’s (being guideline daily amounts) and things of a similar nature, let’s take a moment to discuss sugar and whether we actually need it to function.

Well yes, our bodies do need it, but not in excess. The GDA website explains that the ‘brain needs glucose (a simple sugar) as it is it’s only source of energy and the body's tissues use sugar (stored in liver and muscles) to carry out their main functions.’

Though it’s important to have sugar in a person’s diet, too much sugar could lead to the development of diabetes, potential tooth decay and an expanding waist-line! But what potential risks does having a sugar substitute have?

Sugar substitutes or artificial sweeteners, come in many forms but a few of the most common forms are saccharin and aspartame. These sweeteners are a lot sweeter than natural sugars and are more or less calorie free. So you get a sweet taste which is virtually guilt free? Perhaps not - there is some controversy around the use of Aspartame and its use in diet fizzy drinks, with claims that ‘they cause a variety of health problems, including cancer’ though there is no scientific evidence confirming this.
Other claims from on the dangers of Aspartame include not only cancer but also the risk of headaches, depression and increased hunger, the latter being a concern if you’re eating food with sweeteners in order to avoid putting on the pounds.

Natural sugar versus sugar substitutes is just one of the many examples of natural vs. artificial, low calorie substitutes available on our supermarket shelves.
Whilst it seems as though everything has its pro’s and con’s, I’m a great believer of everything in moderation. It seems far better to have a teaspoon of sugar every so often than to polish off a tub of artificial sweeteners, just because you can.

Now with this being my first post with TheGradStop it seems only fair to test run some theories on healthy eating and dietary tips, with the hope that my experiences will help you improve your lifestyle and make you think about what you’re eating!
I can’t promise expensive Goji berries and 24K gold infused creams, but I’ll be putting the green-tea drink and face wash test, to the test for the next week, when I’ll be reporting back, with hopefully good news and a cost-effective method for all to improve their skin and metabolism!

By Farah Chowdhury  (@seefaraway)  

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