Siblings of Sugar

Are you confused about sweet-tasting foods despite the box saying “No sugar added”? You are not alone, sugar is replaced by many slow-releasing sugar alternatives or derivatives and it’s difficult to recognize most of them. This post will help you to familiarize yourself with common sweeteners found anywhere from your go-to snack for early morning commutes to your favorite brand of toothpaste. We call them Siblings of Sugar!

1) High Fructose Corn Syrup is a highly processed sweetener made from corn starch. Due to its lower cost food companies use it in place of sugar in many sodas, candy, and condiments. It may even be found in foods such as flavored yogurts, bread, and cereals that are marketed as “healthy”. HFCS has come under fire over the past several years with claims that it is worse than regular cane sugar and directly linked to the obesity epidemic, fatty liver, and insulin resistance which fall under the umbrella of Metabolic Syndrome.

2) Maltodextrin is made from corn, rice, wheat, or potatoes and highly refined into a powdered sweetener. It is not particularly as sweet as sugar but, is often used to add texture, thicken and prolong the shelf life of products. It is marketed primarily towards athletes in popular sports drinks and supplements for recovery but, has been found to have no nutritional value. Due to it being a highly refined carbohydrate it is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, which is less than ideal for Diabetics. If consumed in large amounts it can cause spikes in glucose levels and weight gain due to insulin resistance.

3) Dextrose is chemically processed from corn. Although It is used in some food products, it has also been utilized effectively in the medical field. Dextrose is made into a solution used for IV drips or mixed with other medications to balance electrolytes and provide extra calories. Dextrose tablets are used in the treatment of low glucose levels in Diabetics. Since it has a similar molecular structure to glucose high amounts are quickly absorbed into the bloodstream resulting in Hyperglycemia.

4) Sugar Alcohols such as Xylitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Isomalt, and Erythritol are chemically processed carbohydrates made from fruits and vegetables. They are used in products marketed towards people with Diabetes and in oral hygiene products. What sets them apart from most sweeteners is how they are digested. Sugar alcohols are slowly absorbed into the bloodstream and are only partially digested making them lower in calories than regular sugar. Caution should be used with excess consumption of products containing Sugar Alcohols due to the undigested portion being fermented by bacteria in the large intestine which can lead to diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal cramping.

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