Growing up in the nineties to mid 2000s, popular foodstuffs here had a lot more artificial flavours and preservatives than nowadays. The switch to more natural alternatives is a good thing, I think. Not only are they better for you, but they also taste better.
Food products, particularly sweet treats, tend also to be made with less sugar. There will often be a low sugar version on the market or one that is completely sugar-free. Again, it’s good to have these options.
But I, and I’m sure many others, have an issue with the lower or no sugar products. It’s that, to maintain the sweet element something instead of sugar needs to be used, and too often it’s artificial sweeteners.
If sugar is cut down and a natural sweetener is used such as Sevia or honey, I’m all for that. Often no extra sugar needs to be added when you have a recipe that involves naturally occurring sugars, for example from fruits. There has definitely been plenty of opportunity for manufactures to reduce the amount of added sugars they use in their products.
Many brands are promoting how they have lowered sugar, but what they don’t shout so loud is how they have used artificial alternatives to replace the sugar. Is this really any better? Is it worse? One of the alternatives includes my personal nemesis sucralose.
Over the years this particular sweetener has popped up in a lot of foods. It has been approved by The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as safe, however, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to experience negative side effects, both short term and long term. Some of the items on the approved list are controversial. Aspartame is on many people’s hit list, and is banned in America due to possible health implications, but can be found in many UK products, especially sodas. And it is approved as safe by the FDA.
Now, it was only a couple of years ago when I discovered sucralose had side effects for me. If I consume it, I get an unpleasant full, bloated feeling, headaches and nausea. If I have had these in small amounts it’ll be the above side effects in smaller amounts, but I have experienced it to a worse extent, too.
I do try and avoid food or drink containing this (and in the interest of being extra careful, all artificial sweeteners-I’m sure it’s better to not put artificial things into our body where possible). But when I didn’t realise it was an issue I got very ill. It was because of the amount I drank, one of the biggest sized Volvic Touch of Strawberry water’s you can purchase. Drinking the bottle throughout the day. I was just trying to stay hydrated, but with a touch of flavour! HOW Anyway, how I wish I had just had good old plain trusty water and stuck a strawberry in. The following day, after my Touch of Strawberry drink, I had more than a Touch of Vomit. Sorry for the TMI, but to highlight how bad sucralose can be, I vomited in a way I never had before, to an extent I never had before. Was constant, every few minutes and I had to leave work before the afternoon had even started. It wiped me out for a day and a bit.
I guess it hit me badly because of how much I consumed in a short space of time. But I also wonder about the effects of small amounts over a long period of time. After all, sucralose is in a lot of products, and if I wasn’t actively checking ingredients I’d be ingesting it a lot. Although I’m not sure if I have had any noticeable effects on other artificial sweeteners I’m definitely weary.
Some of you may be reading this and thinking you have no issues with this particular sweetener and that is fair enough. These things affect everyone differently, again though I would go back to that thought, about if artificial ingredients can ever really be good for our bodies?
As for me avoiding sucralose, you might just think I should just avoid the sugar-free versions of products, especially sodas, and I’ll be fine. I do avoid these, and as I don’t have too much sugar in my diet, the sugar free versions do me more damage! But low or free sugar products are not the only place sucralose hides. I need to check all non-natural products carefully. Take an example from the other day. I was excited to try Prawn Cocktail Quavers that have made their return. I thought the taste was OK, maybe not quite as good as I remembered but I liked them so added quite a few to my lunch. Shortly after, the bloated feeling and headaches returned. Guess what they they now contain and I bet didn’t before?
I’ll take a little sugar over artificial sweeteners any day, thanks! I may not be sweet enough, but I’d definitely rather be more natural then artificial! I’ll take two lumps please and pass on the chemicals 😉 What are your thoughts on artificial sugars?