7 Healthy Alternatives to Sugar

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After reading about the molecular shape of some of the zero calorie sweeteners we were using, and the relation to leaky gut… I quickly got rid of all of the crap sweeteners in the house. I was looking for a healthy sugar alternative.

I was reading through my Pychobiotic Revolution Book and there was a picture of the Splenda cell. There it was, shaped like a jagged corkscrew. 

I was learning about how thin the lining of your intestines were, and how easy it is to perforate… and all I could see was all the splenda that we’d been adding to our coffee, ripping holes in the lining of our guts. 

When you finally realize that the symptoms that have plagued you, might be related to toxins leaking through your gut, into your brain. It’s damn hard to continue using the cork screws to sweeten your coffee!

So, what do we use to sweeten things around here? 

I chose to change our sweeteners out for healthier options. I refused to go with anything that’s ever been on the health radar, like the pink packages… so I went out looking for healthier sugar alternatives.  I may not use a lot of sugar in my own foods, but my family has a sweet tooth! 

Healthier sugar alternatives was a must! 

Sweeteners don’t have to just spike your energy and leave you with fuzzy germs in your mouth and holes in your intestines. Some sweeteners actually provide nutritional value.

1. Coconut Sugar

While Coconut Sugar is not the most innocent of sugar alternatives, it does offer a lower glycemic effect, as it also has a little bit of fiber in it. It also has fewer calories, and a little bit of nutrients in it… something missing from plain sugar. But don’t go crazy on coconut sugar, as it’s only slightly better than regular sugar.

2. Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is one of the sweeteners of choice these days. Nutritionally, it’s a zero calorie sweetener, derived from fruit, that does not negatively affect your blood sugar. The sweetness comes from the antioxidant called Mogrosides and not from the fructose. These antioxidants are also anti-inflammatory and may inhibit the development of cancer cells… but there isn’t a lot of research on that yet. (see the linked study here.)

3. Maple Syrup

I’m not talking about the over processed sugar water available on the grocery shelves, next to the waffle mix. I mean the organic, straight from the tree, minimally processed, milk of the sugar maple tree. 

Maple, in the higher grade, organic form has a significant amount of zinc, potassium and manganese. However, keep in mind, it is still very much a sweetener and should NOT be consumed in large amounts. It has a slightly lower glycemic index than table sugar, but in a pinch, if you need sweetening… it does the job and isn’t terrible for you (in low dose)

4. Honey

I do appreciate a good honey for sweetness… but it’s pretty hilarious to think that this is sugar that has been digested and regurgitated by an insect…. Yum Yum!

The great thing about honey is that it has high amounts of antioxidants. Studies show that these antioxidants may increase the quality of your blood, making you less prone to issues like strokes and heart attacks.

While honey may have benefits, like managing blood pressure, cleaning up your blood, lowering bad cholesterol and triglycerides… Keep in mind, that like the others… it is a sweetener and no sweetener should be overdone. 

5. Stevia

I liked Stevia as an option for sweeteners, because it is a plant… as a leaf, it naturally has zero calories and almost a beneficial effect on your blood sugar levels and blood pressure.  However, as a sweetener, it never really took off in our house because I was the only one willing to put up with the Stevia after taste. Mind you… I don’t do sweet… so I used very little!

6. Erythritol

Erythritol is a sweetener is about 70% sweeter than sugar, and has about 90% less calories than sugar.  It comes from the alcohol of fruit… however that’s done. It won’t spike your blood sugar, and may even have benefits to your cholesterol, as well as benefits to the health of your blood vessels via the antioxidants in the sweetener.

The research that I’ve done still leaves question with this one, as some smaller studies have questioned whether this sweetener might actually increase belly fat, because of our natural ability to turn fruit sugars into erythritol

7. Xylitol

As far as sweeteners go, Xylitol is one of our favorites. Studies show that xylitol sweetener may actually increase bone density as well as benefits to your teeth health. I’m all for making our bones stronger, decreasing risk of osteoporosis, and helping our dental health and cavity prevention. I just wish I would have switched to Xylitol sooner.

Xylitol also has some benefits to your healthy gut microbiome… but like the rest, please don’t pile a mountain of any sweetener on to your foods. Anything can be bad for you in high doses. 

Keep your pups away from Xylitol… it’s toxic for dogs.

In Summary

Just like anything, if you’re a big sweets person, look into this more or ask your doctor before you over do it.

I prefer to use only organic ingredients, and especially when it comes to sweeteners. I know that if a leaf, or a bee is transferring pesticides and junk into something that WILL affect my blood…. I’m going to try to go as natural and chemical free as possible.

If you’re just starting your health journey, I hope that these sweetener options help you to get on track and make healthier choices. If you are looking for healthier alternatives for a diabetic, please make sure that you do your  research and talk to your doctor before switching. 

Check out some of the recipes for uses of these sweeteners. A favorite is the Ginger Turmeric Lemonade, which helps with inflammation, digestion and detoxing. 

 

Ginger Turmeric Lemonade

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