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Author: By Beatrice Trum Hunter
Author: By Beatrice Trum Hunter
Why has the human race become so enslaved by sweeteners, both natural and artificial?
Author: By Beatrice Trum Hunter
Why has the human race become so enslaved by sweeteners, both natural and artificial? People seem to have an innate preference for sweets. This natural tendency is thought to be for the purpose of encouraging us to eat fruits and vegetables. A quote from page one of The Sweetener Trap sums up why the author thinks that this natural taste for sweets has become subverted. “In recent times, however, our taste for sweetness has become maladaptive. As we learned to extract and concentrate the sweet components from plants, we succeeded in separating sweetness from nutrition. Our greatly increased consumption of concentrated sugars, divorced from their nutrients, is incriminated as an important factor in a wide range of health problems.”
Beatrice Trum Hunter begins her book with an interesting history of sugar consumption. Giving us this background helps us to compare and to understand why society’s current use of sugar is so abnormal and harmful. The author takes on a tour of some of the natural sweeteners, such as honey, molasses and maple syrup, and explains their properties and actions in the body. She illustrates how these sweeteners may be overrated and over consumed. Often we are led to believe that the natural sweeteners are much more nutritionally dense than other more refined sweeteners, however, as Hunter informs us this usually is not the case. Hunter encourages the readers to satisfy their sweet tooth with whole fruits and vegetables.
The Sweetener Trap is a very thorough compilation of the many different natural sweeteners, the highly refined sweeteners, and those which are high intensity artificial sweeteners Hunter talks about food labeling and how sugar content is disguised under many different names. The author includes the history, politics and the good and bad effects of each substance. She sheds light on the ties between certain food industry professional organizations and how these ties affect the truthfulness and quality of the nutritional guidelines we receive. On page 343 Hunter shares some obvious conflicts of interests.
“The public is unaware of the financial ties between the ADA and the sugar and sweetener interests. In each issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association are “Nutrition Fact Sheets”, intended for duplication and distribution to patients. When the topics concern sugars and sweeteners, the materials are supplied by a “sponsor”, the Sugar Association. Also the ADA devotes a full inner back page in its journal issue near the end of the year to thank its sponsors. “These organizations have provided generous financial support for the mission and goals of the Association, the ongoing professional education to its members and the Nutrition Conference and Expo.” Among its sponsors in 2005, were the Sugar Association, Equal (produced by Merisant), the Coca-Cola Company, Wrigley, and The International Food Information Council (funded by numerous food and beverage manufacturers).”
The Sweetener Trap includes an extensive section on the high intensity artificial sweeteners and the health problems they can cause. While many of the artificial sweeteners are being used for the purpose of aiding weight loss, their actual impact on physiology is weight gain. One of the sweeteners in this category is Aspartame. Hunter writes….”Unfortunately, as with cyclamates and saccharin, aspartame does not help in weight loss. On the contrary, it stimulates appetite. The brain chemical, serotonin, which is stimulated by sucrose, carries a message that enough sugar has been consumed. Aspartame, and other synthesized sweeteners carry no such message. Aspartame actually may carry the opposite message, causing the brain to believe that more sugar (or carbohydrate) is needed. Thus, more food is eaten and weight is increased.” The author gives us examples of the misleading corporate advertising, concerning weight issues and the safety of aspartame and other high intensity artificial sweeteners.
It has been found that Aspartame breaks down into dangerous components when exposed to heat. This can occur during storage in hot climates…or during cooking. Just some of the possible Aspartame side effects reported are seizures, mood and behavior changes, brain lesions, headaches, dizziness, nausea, abdominal cramps, vision problems, tinnitus, memory loss, heart palpitations, hives and other skin manifestations, endocrine problems, brain tumors and cancer.
In chapter 10, the author discusses the glycemic index and how it can help people, especially diabetics, to better control their blood sugar. Foods with the higher numbers on the glycemic index (70 – 100) will raise the blood sugar levels more than those foods at the lower end of the glycemic index so this should be kept in mind when those with blood sugar problems are selecting food items.
The invention, production and marketing of designer sweeteners is predicited to increase in the near future, which is one of the reasons I feel that The Sweetener Trap & How To Avoid It, is an important book. It needs to be read and the basic message understood. Not only is this book a comprehensive reference concerning sweeteners…..natural and artificial….but it helps us to more fully understand “sweet” politics and how false advertising is causing much illness in society. The basic message that I came away with is that while the more natural sweeteners may have less dangers associated with them, our consumption of any concentrated sweet should be greatly minimized. At the end of the book there is a short chapter where the author shares some strategies on how to minimize our cravings for that sweet taste and what whole foods can help us towards this end. An increasing amount of research is pointing to overindulgence in carbohydrates, along with food additives, as one of the main causes of degenerative disease. It would make sense then to learn as much as we can concerning this subject.