Written by Claire Derbyshire
The Difference In Natural Sugar & Sweetener For Children
Sugar is an inseparable part of the food we consume. We are told through much research and many studies that too much sugar is not ideal for our teeth and our body, both in adults and children. There have been some suggestions which have sparked some controversy that too much sugar may play an important role in certain degenerative diseases.
Artificial sweeteners or artificially sweetened products have been increasingly developed over recent years and continue to attract consumers. A sugar substitute (artificial sweetener) is a food additive that replicates the effect of sugar in taste but usually has fewer calories. Alarmingly, some studies have demonstrated that artificial sweeteners cause weight gain, brain tumours, bladder cancer and many other health diseases (1).
One concern about artificial sweeteners is that they affect the body’s ability to work out how many calories are being consumed. Some studies show that sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in different ways. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to increased calorie intake and therefore weight gain (2).
Many of the sweeteners used today are so much sweeter than real sugar that taste palates may become accustomed to exaggerated sweet tastes. Which if consumed in children from an early age, can only lead to an increase calorie intake due to the preferred taste of over sweetened foods. Sugar substitutes can be up to 1500 times as sweet as real sugar! There are so many sugars, natural sugars, refined sugars, and artificial sweeteners out there.
All About Sugar
Sugars are a type of carbohydrate. One gram equates to 4 calories of energy (kcals). Carbohydrates are an important source of fuel for your bodies to maintain good health, including brain function. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, or blood sugar, by your body. Refined sugars typically lack additional nutrients and are merely a calorie source, not to mention that they have undergone an extraction and purification process.
During the refining process, the sugars are processed to the point where the nutrients naturally available in the raw foods (cane) are lost. Refined sugar is used as an added sugar in prepared and processed foods, whereas natural sugars are those found naturally in foods. They can also be sugars that are naturally produced, not refined, and are added to foods, such as honey, stevia, agave nectar and maple syrup. Sources of natural sugar are considered healthier than refined sugars because they usually contain additional nutrients.
However, natural sugars can still count as added sugar, for example, sweetening a bowl of natural yoghurt with a drizzle of honey should be limited. Here are a few names of sugars and sweeteners to look at for on food labels in the market today.
‘Natural Based’ Sugars
- Fructose corn syrup
- Acesulfame potassium
- Sweet ‘N Low
Where Artificial Sweeteners May Lurk!
People are often surprised at how common it is to find dangerous artificial sweeteners in prepared foods, medications, and drinks. Below are some examples of where to look out for the dangerous artificial sweeteners mentioned above.
- Low-calorie/light/zero sugar drinks
- Cough medicines
- Sweets and chocolates
- Chewing gum
- Children’s chewable vitamins
- Salad dressings
- Frozen yoghurt and other frozen deserts
- Toothpaste and mouthwash
- Low-fat yoghurts
- Breakfast cereals
- Processed foods
- Low sugar snacks
Organic, natural foods and unprocessed foods are making a comeback. People want to know what they’re putting in their children’s bodies as well as their own. There are not enough long term studies out there on artificial sweeteners and their negative health effects in children and adults. However, here at Myprotein we believe that products with artificial sweeteners should be avoided and not consumed where possible.
Our children’s products contain low natural sugar content making them a safer, healthier option.