Currently viewing the tag: "sweeteners"

From the seemingly innocent to the definitely ominous, additives are everywhere.  Even if you cook or bake everything you consume from scratch, you’re still adding substances to food that aren’t naturally found in the raw ingredients.  And even if you buy products marked “organic” or “all natural,” they are likely to have added preservatives such as tocopherols (vitamin E) or citric acid–found in fruits such as lemons and oranges, and now produced industrially.

We add subtances to food that aren’t naturally found in the raw ingredients.  And even if you buy products marked “organic” or “all natural,” they are likely to have added preservatives such as tocopherols (vitamin E) or citric acid–found in fruits such as lemons and oranges, and now produced industrially.

Rainbow_of_food_natural_food_colors

Additives serve many purposes:

  • Colours  that enhance appearance
  • Preservatives that help protect against food deterioration caused by bacteria.
  • Antioxidants that slow down or stop the oxidative deterioration of foods–what we call rancidity
  • Artificial sweeteners which are lower in calories than sugar–and cheaper to use.
  • Flavour enhancers that improve the taste and aroma of food.
  • Presentation and texture enhancers e.g. thickeners, gelling agents, emulsifiers, emulsifiers.
  • Nutrient additions that increase the nutrient value of foods

The history of food additives is as old as civilization.  Salt, sugar and vinegar were the first preservatives commonly used by cultures around the world, as well as techniques such as smoking and drying.  Chemicals have been developed to accelerate or mimic these processes, or as cheaper alternatives to traditional methods.

Although the chemical additives commonly used in foods must be demonstrated to be safe for human consumption, there are still many concerns about their use:

Allergic Reactions

  • Sulphite and sulphur dioxide (E220-28) have been known to cause allergic reactions. Specifically, asthma sufferers should avoid sulphur dioxide gas due to increased sensitivity, but there are also recorded cases of worsening of asthma after drinking soft drinks containing it. They are mainly found in dried fruits, dessicated coconut, relishes and fruit-based pie fillings.
  • Food colours like tartrazine (E102)can cause mild allergic reactions and some studies show that sunset yellow (E1 10) can cause tumours.
  • Annatto, a natural food colouring found in margarine, cheese, smoked fish and cakes is implicated in allergic reactions and irritable bowel.

Cancer

  • Aspartame (E951) has been linked to various cancers(1,2,3), although studies by US National Cancer Institute and European Food Safety Authority concluded that it did not increase the risk of cancers.
  • Erythrosine is a red food colour. Research has highlighted concerns about its potentialtumour formation and inhibition of the normal functioning of the thyroid.
  • Allura red has been associated with cancer in mice but evidence is not consistent.
  • Nitrites and nitrates (E249-52) may convert in the stomach to potentially carcinogenic nitrosamines.

Hyperactivity

  • Although a definitive link has not yet been established food colours like sunset yellow (E110), quinoline yellow (E104), carmoisine (E122), allura red (E129), tartrazine (E102) and ponceau 4R (E124) have been associated with hyperactivity in some children. These are commonly found in a variety of processed foods, especially in children’s sweets, confectionary, squashes, soft drinks, jams and cakes. Prevalence of hyperactivity is estimated to be about 2.5%.
  • Aspartame has also been linked with changes in behaviour.

Headaches

  • MSG (monosodium glutamate- E621) is a flavour enhancer can cause headaches in some people. Although in a recent review there was no conclusive direct evidence.
  • Aspartame is also linked with causing headaches.

Other

  • Gums (E412, E414) are used to thicken food and improve texture. Theycan give rise to flatulence and abdominal pain.

The Bottom Line

Additives are overused in the processed foods industry, so try to avoid them as much as possible.

  • Always read food labels to be fully aware of what you are buying.
  • Keep processed foods to a minimum, including sweeteners, sweets, lollies, soft drinks and cakes.
  • Be careful of foods that are presented as low-fat, sugar-free as they are likely to be additive-rich and nutrient-poor.
  • Every individual reacts differently to food and additives. It’s possible to be allergic to anything–even the most “natural” subtance.  If you suspect a sensitivity to anything you eat, try a process of elimination to discover the source of the problem, or consult a practitioner trained in nutrition.
  • If your child shows signs of hyperactivity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) then eliminating some colours from their diet may prove beneficial.

If you have concerns about your own diet or that of a family member, and how it may be affecting health, consider scheduling a consultation with us.

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Artificial sweeteners are non-nutritive, manufactured chemicals with few or no calories. In the UK permitted sweeteners include; aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame potassium (known as acesulfame K), cyclamate and sucralose. We are addicted to the taste of sweetness and the widespread use of sweetener substitutes in food and drink has made our sweet tooth even worse.

Artificial sweetener

Unsurprisingly, sweeteners have been found to be responsible for weight gain rather than weight loss. This is applicable even if Aspartame is taken at levels recommended by the United States FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Research carried out in young hamsters found that those on Aspartame tended to eat more and there was also evidence of damage to brain and liver cells. Other studies carried out in rats have also shown that compared to sugar, sweeteners saccharin and aspartame cause weight gain which is unrelated to caloric intake.

Researchers  have speculated the cause of weight gain to be either reduced energy expenditure or an increase in fluid retention. Breakdown of aspartame produces phenylalanine which is a known inhibitor of a gut enzyme IAP (intestinal alkaline phosphatase). IAP in mice has been shown to prevent metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms associated with type 2 diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease.  In another study aspartame was linked to reduced insulin sensitivity therefore affecting blood sugar regulation.

The act of eating requires a feeling of satiety and satisfaction. A pilot review suggests that sweeteners only offer partial activation of the food reward pathways in the brain. This may also be responsible for the consequent increase in appetite as an attempt to complete the satiety cycle. Such impaired activation has been observed in obese adolescent girls after drinking milkshake.

Intake of artificial sweeteners has a huge contributory effect of our weight gain and obesity problem.  Although not immediately apparent, over the longer term it significantly increases the risk of health problems. Convinced that they are doing the right thing many people choose a diet option. Their aim is to try to lose or maintain their weight but ironically it is causing just the opposite.

The dangers of sweeteners need to be acknowledged by the public health sector and the food industry. Introducing manufactured substances into our body in the form of artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and in many other commercial products has a major influence on our body’s chemistry, creating a chemical disaster equivalent to a tsunami. The human body is not made to digest artificial foods that may look and taste similar and nutritionally they can never replace fresh natural foods.

 

 

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