Hello sweetness

Making healthier choices is obviously better than making no choice to change at all, and we all know sugar is bad for you, everyone knows it, but we still love to have it anyway.

In the words of Mary Poppins “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down”. Sugar is inherent and widespread in our diets, and foods, and if you are eating almost any manufactured or processed foods then you can almost guarantee that you will be taking in sugar in its many forms. So often when we start to change our diets to a more healthy one we tend to move towards what are often considered as healthier options and one of these food options widely promoted as being a good choice are sweeteners.

I remember my mother having a sweetener in her tea, those little white sugar type pills that were popped out of its container became all the rage. They are seen as a healthier choice for the health conscious amongst us who are focused on reducing their calories, and Splenda is one of the leading sweeteners on the market. Splenda has become one of the most popular sweeteners to take because it's just like using sugar. It is promoted as the healthier (calorie free) and versatile option, as it can be used in baking and cooking at a variety of temperatures. But this comes at a price as some research suggests.

Splenda is sucralose, with fillers of maltodextrin and glucose, and frequently used in foods. In a 12 week piece of research that was carried out in 2008, it showed the impact of taking Splenda regularly could lead to a change in the pH of the intestinal tract, the 'beneficial' bacteria levels were significantly reduced.[1]

The intestinal tract is one of the most important arenas of the body to have balanced. The knock on effects of bacteria being out of balance can affect the whole body and mind - not just the intestinal tract itself. The microflora of the tract are absolutely key for immunity and biosynthesis of vitamins and minerals. Changes impact on the metabolism which obviously affects weight management in the long term, and changes in the bacteria can even affect gene expression. [2]

But what you might want to understand is that if you support and balance the bacteria in the intestinal tract and add the right cultures when necessary you can help to manage your weight. This was shown in research on the Lactobacillus gasseri strain of bacteria, that taking just this strain showed a direct impact on the abdominal adiposity, body weight and other body measures in adults with obese tendencies. [3]

Impact on your intestinal tract in a positive way via a high quality diet. Reduce your sugar intake because when you eat sugar the body automatically wants more of it. Cutting down slowly, and taking hidden sugars out of your diet by becoming label savvy will be hugely beneficial. Add foods to each meal that help to balance blood sugar, including fibre rich foods such as vegetables, oats, rye, buckwheat, brown rice, pulses. Make sure you also include a protein.

Fermented foods are finally gaining popularity and are becoming widely available but are easy to make yourself, or use selective cultured supplements. These healthy choices move you from just focusing on dieting and calorie restriction to nutrition that truly feeds your body to give you the health, vitality and energy you are looking for.

If you still need the sweetness in your diet, then consider choosing local honey or xylitol. 

1. Abou-Donia MB1, El-Masry EM, Abdel-Rahman AA, McLendon RE, Schiffman SS.. (2008). Splenda alters gut microflora and increases intestinal p-glycoprotein and cytochrome p-450 in male rats..Available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18800291. Last accessed 7th July 2014.

2. Stephen Daniels. (2010). Breakthrough Study shows personalised nutrition future for probiotics . Available: http://www.nutraingredients.com/Research/Breakthrough-study-shows-personalised-nutrition-future-for-probiotics?utm_source=RSS_text_news. Last accessed 9th July 2014.

3. Kadooka Y1, Sato M, Imaizumi K, Ogawa A, Ikuyama K, Akai Y, Okano M, Kagoshima M, Tsuchida T.. (2010). Regulation of abdominal adiposity by probiotics (Lactobacillus gasseri SBT2055) in adults with obese tendencies in a randomized controlled trial.. Available: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20216555. Last accessed 9th July 2014.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Omagh, County Tyrone, BT78 5LU
Written by Deborah Walker
Omagh, County Tyrone, BT78 5LU

I run a practice that has for over 10 years predominantly been driven by referrals. Are you sick and tired of just not feeling quite right, do the blood tests say you are fine, but you just know that isn't true? Has everyone else told you either that you have to live with those symptoms, or that the...

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