Spoons of different types of sugar on the wooden background
Dr. Laura Pipher

Dr. Laura Pipher

Are we addicted to sugar & sugar alternatives?

Ive been reading a lot of health topics in the news lately, and sugar seems to be one of the most frequently touched on topic. Whether its a promotion on Dr. Oz for the latest sugar substitute,  or a news piece on how much sugar companies are putting into our foods, sugar is EVERYWHERE!!

Now everyone knows that sugar is not the healthiest thing we could be putting in our bodies, but whats with all these sugar substitutes? Are they better for us? The concern with added sugar in our foods is the very clear link between obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and inflammation.

To start with, the latest hype on doctor Oz is his new claims on coconut palm sugar being “the best new alternative to sugar”–he even claims that people are losing weight from this “miraculous food” — see link below


Heres the deal: there are no miracle foods. Coconut palm sugar, also known as coconut sap, or coconut sugar has its claim to fame because of its low glycemic index which basically measures how quickly your blood sugar rises after eating foods. Foods with a low glycemic index can help to control cravings and make us not have that afternoon “crash” that higher glycemic index foods seem to create.

Since coconut sugar is relatively new in the realm of “alternative” sweeteners, it was very hard for me to find much evidence for any concrete health benefits or drawbacks from this. This makes me weary (much like many things Dr. Oz tends to promote without much evidence) and all I can respond to this with is “everything in moderation”. Just because something is given the “stamp of approval” for health from Dr. Oz or any other figures of importance, people tend to lose all sense of reality and jump on the band wagon! People are quick to want a quick fix, and even faster to use “too much of a good thing”. When it comes to coconut palm sugar or any other sweetener alternative for that matter, moderation is KEY! If something is sweeter and we are able to use less than use less!

The more we can try to get our taste buds away from craving that sweetness that we are so used to , the less we will want to use sugar in the first place. I am just as guilty if not more than anyone else for having a sometimes “incurable” sweet tooth that persists until I get exactly the sweets I crave.

At the end of the day its not about finding an “alternative sweetener” to cure your sweet tooth, (for diabetics this is obviously different), its more about controlling the amount of sweetness you introduce in your body on a regular basis. Where are your sugars coming from and what other nutritional benefits are you receiving from these foods?

Fruits are an amazing way to help curb a craving and also have many benefits that those sweet foods will never provide you with.

All in all, if you are sweetening your coffee in the morning and use a bit of agave nectar, coconut palm sugar, or even sugar, be mindful of the amount you are using, what you actually need, and dont be swayed by everything Dr. Oz has to say!

Have a sweet (but not too sweet) evening!

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