Dr Oz: The Truth About Sugar-Free Foods
With so many Americans trying to cut back on the amount of sugar they consume each day, the food industry took notice. Sugar-free foods are more popular than ever, but at what cost to our health? Dr Jen Caudle wanted to find out the truth about sugar-free foods, not only for herself, but for her patients as well, particularly those who are pre-diabetic. Dr Taylor Wallace, a food scientist, showed Dr Caudle what traditional sugar is replaced with in common sugar-free foods.
Aspartame is the most common sweetener on the market and is 200 times sweeter than regular table sugar. Saccharine is about 300 times sweeter and sucralose is 600 times sweeter. Stevia is an all-natural sweetener while a sugar alcohol is commonly used in cookies and other sweets like gummies.
The artificial sweeteners work to make food taste good, but what is it actually doing to our bodies? Dr Caudle learned that artificial sweeteners are tested on adults, not including pregnant women. A registered dietitian Dr Caudle spoke to, recommended that children, teens, or pregnant women avoid artificial sweeteners and sugar-free foods, and that everyone else practice moderation. Too much of an artificial sweetener can cause digestive issues.
Dr Oz: Sugar Alcohols & Digestive Issues
If you eat too much of a sugar-free food that contains sugar alcohols, your body can’t digest them properly. They’re sent whole to the intestines where bacteria try to break them down, causing gas. Then, water rushes into your intestines to try to combat them, creating a laxative effect.
The reality is that sugar alcohols are in hundreds of food products, and could potentially help prevent cavities. However, as with everything else, it’s important to practice moderation, because sugar-free doesn’t necessarily mean fat-free. In the same way, sugar-free doesn’t automatically mean calorie-free.
Dr Oz: Are Sugar-Free Foods Making You Fat?
If you turned to sugar-free foods in hopes of losing weight, you could be doing more harm than good. Dr Oz explained that artificial sweeteners can actually trick your brain and cause the opposite effect: weight gain. When you eat regular sugar, your brain reacts by stopping the cravings. When you consume artificial sweeteners, your brain doesn’t react the same way, so you continue to crave sweet treats.
The good news is that, while practicing moderation, you can look for sugar-free foods that also have a low fat content. Even more important is to understand why you’re having the cravings in the first place and treat the underlying cause. Dr Caudle suggested weaning yourself off the sweeteners, cutting back gradually each day.
Thankfully, Dr Oz came up with artificial-free solutions to satisfy your sweet tooth the natural way.
Dr Oz: Natural Ways To Satisfy Sweet Tooth
Without resorting to artificial sweeteners, there are ways you can satisfy that nagging craving for something sweet. Haylie Pomroy, a nutritionist, explained that sweet cravings are our body’s desire for quick-acting, metabolism-enriching foods, as long as it’s actually food. Dr Oz wanted to specifically shine a light on those who typically enjoy sweeteners in their coffee, their baked goods, and their snacks.
If you’re a coffee drinker, try stevia or honey, or a combination of both. It’s important to find real stevia as opposed to a chemical-laced product. Because they’re both such strong sweeteners, you can use less of them.
For the baker, Haylie stated “if you can bake it, your body can take it.” She suggested bakers try using dates or date sugar in their baked goods as a way to get that sweet effect, without table sugar.
Finally, if you’re grab-and-go snacker, try roasted fruit. You could even roast apples or another fruit of your choosing and use them to replace jelly on your PB&J sandwich!