Are Sugar Substitutes Really Better for Your Health?

In this video, the speaker discusses the different types of sugar substitutes and their potential consequences and issues. The speaker highlights that artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and saccharine, are highly processed and have no nutritional value. They argue that these artificial sweeteners can potentially harm the body by interfering with its natural regulation processes. The speaker also explains that natural sweeteners like agave syrup and coconut sugar, although considered healthier options, are still sugar and should be consumed in moderation. The video concludes by recommending natural non-nutritive sweeteners like monk fruit, stevia, and chicory root as the best alternatives.

Author Icon

Our Summaries are written by our own AI Infrastructure, to save you time on your Health Journey!

How does this happen?

Key Insights:

  • Sweeteners are highly processed and provide empty calories as they do not provide any nutrients the body needs.
  • Some sweeteners raise blood sugar and can lead to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes.
  • Fructose, while not raising blood sugar significantly, is stressful on the liver and can also lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  • Artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame, saccharine, sucralose, and acesulfame potassium, are controversial and may have negative effects on the body.
  • Natural sweeteners like white sugar, agave syrup, and high fructose corn syrup are still sugar and can have detrimental health effects if consumed in large quantities.
  • Some natural sweeteners, like Allulose, have different molecular structures and may have potential health benefits, but they should not be relied upon as a medication.
  • Sugar alcohols, like erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and maltitol, have varying levels of calories, impact on blood sugar, and potential for digestive issues.
  • The best natural non-nutritive sweeteners are monk fruit, stevia, and chicory root, as they do not impact blood sugar or insulin levels
  • Sweeteners should be used in moderation and not treated as a food group or relied upon as a primary source of nutrition.


Hello Health Champions. If you’re human you
probably have a sweet tooth but you also know how bad sugar is and all the health problems sugar
causes and people are looking for alternatives for sugar substitutes and as a result the list
of substitutes is growing longer by the day. But are the alternatives any better or are
they in some cases even worse? In order to answer that question we have to understand what
are the consequences and issues with different sweeteners. So the first issue is that sweeteners
are not food they are typically highly processed and they provide empty calories. There’s
nothing in there that your body actually needs. The second issue is that some of them
will raise your blood sugar some of them can give you a carbohydrate overload and they
stimulate insulin with high chronic insulin we get insulin resistance and if this goes on for a
long time we have type 2 diabetes. The third issue is that a lot of them have fructose and while
fructose doesn’t raise blood sugar very much it is very stressful on the liver and it has
an even greater likelihood to create insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. The fourth issue
is pretty controversial and it has to do with artificial sweeteners. Every time I bring it up
there’s some angry people who say that there is no evidence where is the research and so forth
now i am of the opinion that for some things you just don’t need to wait for the research
just because you can’t prove that it’s unsafe doesn’t mean that you can prove that it is safe
either. And from a philosophical perspective if something is purely synthetic. If it is purely
foreign if it has never existed on the planet as that type of molecule then it has no business
in our bodies. Based on my clinical experience and the type of testing that we do in my office I
believe that it is one of the worst chemicals that we can come across I believe it has the potential
of zapping circuits very much like metals or chemicals or pesticides they do their damage in
the body by interfering by short-circuiting the information the signals that the body is trying
to use to regulate activity. The fifth issue has to do with digestive health. So some of these
sweeteners cause gas and bloating or even diarrhea and if they cause that sort of upset on your
digestive health then we have to ask what impact does it have on your biome on your microbial
flora that we know is so critically related to our overall health. Let me start with the worst
and work my way through to the better ones the artificial ones are also called non-nutritive
because they have no calories they have no blood sugar but they are unnatural and why is that such
a big deal now I am a total fan I am super excited about all the technological progress that humans
are making. Life is getting better every day as a result of technology it’s more convenient the
cars and the phones and the computers everything’s getting better but when it comes to biology that’s
a totally different department and humans have yet to create life and until they do I think that
anything man-made should stay outside of the body as much as we can help it. Artificial sweeteners
are molecules that never existed on the planet. They’re combining chemicals and forcing
things together that don’t belong together and therefore we have no idea what it does now
in my experience they do a lot of harm but even in the absence of proof I think it’s a really
good idea to avoid artificial things. Like I said i think these foreign molecules can zap circuit
they can short-circuit the regulation your body’s attempt at creating balance and homeostasis
and the most common offenders are aspartame, saccharine, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. I
urge you to read the ingredient list very very carefully because sometimes they sneak them
in where you least suspect it. Then we get to the natural ones. Things that occur in nature but
because of how we process it and the quantities that we consume they become really really bad.
And these are things like white sugar, agave syrup, and high fructose corn syrup. We all know that
white sugar is something we should stay away from but a lot of people are being told and believe
that agave syrup is a good thing. Now most people know that high fructose corn syrup is a bad
thing but it turns out agave syrup and high fructose corn syrup are pretty much the same thing.
They have a low glycemic index and the reason they have that is that they’re higher in fructose.
Fructose is the thing that lowers the glycemic index compared to glucose and that high fructose
is very very stressful for the liver and it has a huge impact on insulin resistance and type 2
diabetes. And it’s very disturbing to me when I see things like this: wholesome sweetness, organic agave.
This looks like something good, right? Low glycemic but this is very very high in fructose so this is
just another form of high fructose corn syrup and it’s the quantity that makes it bad if you had
a teaspoon once in a while that’s not a big deal especially if you’re insulin sensitive. So when
we talk about things like berries they also have glucose and fructose in them but it’s all about
the quantity and you can even have some berries on a keto diet and it’s totally fine. It is all about
the quantity then we get to the natural sweeteners that are a little better but they’re still pretty
bad and these are things like coconut sugar, honey, maple syrup, date sugar, and the list goes on
and on and on but what we have to understand is that there’s still sugar i hear people
all the time they read keto cookbooks and they’re told that you stay away from
white sugar stay away from this or that but these are the healthy ones and they’re
in every health food store on the planet. But read the name: sugar, syrup, sugar, honey.
They’re still the same thing. And here’s how you want to look at that. Sugar is 50% glucose
50% fructose. The glucose raises blood sugar creates insulin insulin resistance. The fructose clogs
the liver and creates insulin resistance. High fructose corn syrup and agave is the same
stuff the proportions are just a little bit different and then when we take a look at these
so-called healthy ones sold in health food stores then it’s 99% the same thing it’s still sugar
and the fact that they keep just a little bit of nutrients a few minerals and vitamins
doesn’t change the fact that it’s still all sugar. Is it a little bit better? Of course it
is but it’s still sugar and as such it’s all about the quantity these molecules are not bad
or evil in themselves a teaspoon once in a while wouldn’t be a bad thing but too much sugar will
slowly kill you. Then there’s an example here of a natural thing that canna acts differently
and there’s probably going to be more of these as time goes on. Allulose is a natural rare
sugar so this chemical formula, C6H12O6, that’s the exact same thing as glucose. It’s the exact
same thing as fructose but these molecules act very differently because the atoms are configured
just a little bit different. And some of them we have enzymes to break up and some of them we don’t.
So this is one that we can’t break up it tastes pretty much like glucose and they refine it and
they now start selling it as a sugar alternative. Because we can’t metabolize it, it has virtually zero
calories. No impact on blood glucose or insulin. And like anything they get really excited about
they do some research and they start finding different benefits so now they’ve found that it’s
anti-inflammatory maybe or it may improve insulin sensitivity. But here’s the problem now that they
start refining these things and they start doing some research now they’re in the pill mentality
again now they’re in the medicine mentality take this for that they’re forgetting that this
is not food. It’s not anything that the body is looking for. Can you use it? Yeah I think that
you could probably have a little bit I think it fits right in with some of the semi healthy
natural sweeteners but don’t start using it as a medication to treat something since the beginning
of time every species on the planet has been looking for food as sustenance as nutrition
and fuel and building blocks and this is not food. So it doesn’t make it totally bad just
realize the difference. And then I saw this quote next to the Allulose information consuming
more than 54 grams of Allulose per day may cause digestive issues such as bloating gas
and abdominal pain this was in us news health how do they come up with 54 grams? So 53 grams
is totally okay but as soon as you cross that threshold now you’re in trouble it doesn’t
work like that. So some people might get these symptoms at half of that dose or a tenth of that
dose and some people may not get it at all but it’s not about the symptoms that’s just when
you went too far. If 54 grams causes pain then half of that amount causes something. So can we
have a teaspoon once in a while probably yes but just keep in mind when they say things like
that that it’s ridiculous and they have really no foundation for picking a number like that. Now
it gets a little more complicated but I’m going to do my best to keep it really simple and
summarize this in a way that makes sense we get erythritol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and
maltitol and if you notice what these have in common they all end with -ol which means they’re
sugar alcohols and they’re very very complex it’s a whole field of study for each one and I don’t
know all the details about every one of them. But why are they so popular because
unlike many of the other sweeteners these actually taste pretty good. Their sweetness is in
the same range as sugar. Some are really close some are a little bit less but they taste pretty
much like sugar so for certain applications they work much better. These sugar alcohols are
getting very popular and when they’re included in food they’re usually subtracted from the net
carbs they’re treated as fibers. They’re treated as if all the sugar alcohols are pretty much the
same and that’s a bit of a discrepancy. There’s a problem here because erythritol has virtually zero
calories whereas xylitol and maltitol has like 60-65% the calories of sugar. So they’re not
all the same they do have some metabolic effects and if they have calories if they have metabolic
effects, then they have to either get absorbed or fermented and these sugar alcohols vary widely
on how much gets absorbed and absorbed means that they cross the barrier they cross the intestinal
membrane in your small intestine and they pass into the blood so now they’re circulating in
the bloodstream. If they can’t get absorbed if they don’t make it into the bloodstream then they
pass through the small intestine and they end up in the large intestine and now they become food
for the bacteria in your large intestine and they have the potential to become fermented to become
fuel for the bacteria there. And because they’re going to become either absorbed or fermented as
soon as you put them in your mouth that’s going to be one of the two then these two numbers are
going to end up 100%. So next thing we need to understand is out of the portion
that gets absorbed now two things can happen they can either be metabolized by the liver and
that means the liver has an enzyme it can turn it into glucose and now we will have some blood sugar
effect and some insulin effect and you’ll make it into energy just like you would glucose or it will
be excreted by the kidney if it’s not something that the liver can work with it’s just going
to pass through and the kidneys are going to excrete it. So for erythritol for example basically
0% is metabolized by the liver. First of all because almost all of it gets absorbed
in the bloodstream and all that gets absorbed in the bloodstream gets excreted by the kidney so
erythritol is very different than these other guys because it has very very little interaction with
the body there’s virtually no metabolic effects which you can see from 0.2 calories. So next on
the list is mannitol and we can see that it has one and a half calorie per gram which is about
40 percent of that of sugar but zero percent is metabolized by the liver that means none of that
gets converted into glucose so then what happens to it? Well 75 percent of it passes through to be
fermented by bacteria and these bacteria then turn it into short chain fatty acids that get back into
the system and become energy so that’s not a bad energy that’s typically a quite beneficial energy
and therefore has very little impact on blood sugar. The last three on the list we can see that
virtually none of it goes out through the kidney so that means that it’s processed either by the
liver or the gut bacteria and we can see that these have about 60 to 65 percent of the calories
of sugar two and a half to two point seven And next we want to look at the glycemic index
and this is why it’s so important to understand the difference between these sugar alcohols that
you cannot simply subtract all the sugar alcohols from net carbs because the first two have
basically a zero impact on blood sugar but the last one which is maltitol which is very
popular in some candies like chocolate products on the market. It has basically half of the blood
sugar impact of sugar and more than half about 65% of the calories of sugar but perhaps
the biggest drawback of these sugar alcohols is their potential for digestive upset. If they
cause gas and bloating we have to ask why is that? It’s because your gut bacteria are producing
that gas it’s the only way that you can get gas and bloating is your bacteria made that gas and
it’s because you fed them. And what did you feed your gut bacteria you fed them something called
FODMAP and this is a protocol that people with upset stomachs with ibs and with
small intestinal bacterial overgrowth they often learn to avoid the FODMAP because
these things feed your bacteria and if you get the gas and bloating you’re probably feeding
the kind of bacteria that you don’t want the kinds that create trouble and FODMAP stands
for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols. So FODMAP is anything
that your gut bacteria can ferment and all the saccharides are basically sugar and the polyols
are all of the sugar alcohols. So basically small carbohydrates different forms of sugar
and the sugar alcohols are the things that fit into that FODMAP category and all of these sugar
alcohols have a significant FODMAP content except the erythritol because 90% of the erythritol gets
absorbed very quickly in the small intestine so only very small amounts get passed through to
the large intestine to be fermented so therefore only trace amounts of the erythritol actually gets
fermented and has the potential of causing gas. But even so I don’t recommend overdoing the
erythritol I think it is clearly the best one of the sugar alcohols but you still don’t want to
overdo it for all the different reasons that we talked about it’s not a food it’s not a nutrient
and people still will have some digestive upsets if they eat too much of it one more thing I want
to mention is concerning xylitol and dogs because xylitol works differently on dogs than basically
any other species usually insulin is released is triggered by a rise in blood sugar but in dogs
it is also triggered by xylitol without a rise in blood sugar so if they consume this then the
insulin will push their normal blood sugar too low and they can frequently die from hypoglycemia.
And this brings us to the best ones from a health perspective in my opinion these are the natural
non-nutritive so they don’t have an impact on glucose they don’t have an impact on insulin they
don’t have any calories but they are natural as opposed to the artificial non-nutritive sweeteners
and this is monk fruit stevia and chicory root and stevia and monk fruit are pretty much the same.
They’re very similar they’re two different plants but they work the same they’re very very sweet
they’re two to three hundred times sweeter than sugar so you only need microscopic amounts
chicory root or inulin is a little different but it’s not a sugar alcohol it is about as sweet
as sugar and it is classified as a fiber and even though it’s technically not a sugar alcohol large
amounts of this can still cause digestive upsets. Now with all this information what do we do with
it what do I do well I never touch the artificial stuff if i can help it i had a diet soda about
40 years ago and i’ve never had one since because the taste was just totally horrendous metallic
artificial. My body just said this is not something you want to put inside. I think I’ve had one or
two tastes of something since then by mistake and I’ve been able to spit it out so I don’t touch the
stuff if I can help it. Sugar I probably have less than a teaspoon a day on average most days i don’t
have any but if i do it’ll probably be something like a dark chocolate or dark chocolate covered
espresso beans or something like that. I use stevia monk fruit and chicory root on a regular basis
mostly stevia I like some stevia sodas that are on the market and i probably have one or two a
day usually I eat my yogurt plain without anything added but occasionally I put some berries in there
and then I like to sweeten with stevia if I do a smoothie like a chocolate smoothie i typically put
some stevia in there i do use some sugar alcohols in small amounts I use erythritol and xylitol and
the reason is that even though I like stevia in a lot of things I can’t stand it in coffee I just
don’t like it however if I do a cappuccino or something I love to have a little bit of xylitol
or erythritol even just half a teaspoon just brightens it up a little bit. And if I’m gonna do
some baking then I’ll probably use erythritol and if I have some ice cream then it’ll probably be
something with erythritol in it as well. So now that you have a big long list here’s
the thing I really want to emphasize that just because it’s on the list and I think
it’s okay it does not mean that it is food. It is still a treat. It’s an exception. It’s something
you do once in a while or just a little bit. Don’t turn it into a food group we have this tendency as
humans we go down the list and that one’s okay so I’m just gonna eat that and nothing else don’t
do that use it as a treat. If you enjoyed this video and you’d like to learn more about how
the body works and how to truly master health then that video will be perfect for you next. Thank
you so much for watching I’ll see you next time.