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The Sweet Danger: How Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners Harm Your Health

Sugar is everywhere. From your coffee to your favorite snacks, it’s hard to avoid the sweet stuff. When did coffee become a milkshake anyway?  While sugar might taste good, it’s far from good for you or your family. In fact, sugar is one of the most dangerous substances we consume regularly. It wreaks havoc on our bodies in numerous ways, and artificial sweeteners like sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin are no better – they are worse. Let’s dive into why sugar and these artificial sweeteners are harmful and explore healthier alternatives like allulose, monk fruit, xylitol, and stevia.

The Dangers of Sugar

1. Weight Gain and Obesity

One of the most well-known effects of sugar is its contribution to weight gain and obesity. Sugar is high in calories but low in nutritional value, often referred to as “empty calories.” When consumed, sugar causes a spike in blood glucose levels, leading to an insulin response that can result in fat storage. Over time, this can lead to weight gain and obesity, which are risk factors for numerous other health issues, including heart disease and diabetes.

2. Increased Risk of Heart Disease

Consuming high amounts of sugar is linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Sugar contributes to inflammation, high triglyceride levels, and high blood pressure—all of which are risk factors for heart disease. Additionally, sugary diets can lead to the buildup of fatty deposits in the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis, which can result in heart attacks and strokes.

3. Type 2 Diabetes

Sugar consumption is a major contributor to the development of type 2 diabetes. When you consume sugar, your body needs to produce insulin to manage the glucose in your bloodstream. Over time, excessive sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, where your body’s cells no longer respond effectively to insulin. This can cause blood sugar levels to remain high, ultimately leading to type 2 diabetes.

4. Liver Disease

High sugar intake, particularly from fructose (a type of sugar found in many processed foods), can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Fructose is metabolized in the liver, and excessive consumption can lead to fat buildup in the liver. This can cause inflammation and scarring, leading to serious liver conditions over time.

5. Dental Problems and Systemic Health Issues

Sugar causes dental problems like cavities and gum disease by producing acid that erodes tooth enamel. The impact extends beyond the mouth, as bacteria from infected gums can enter the bloodstream, forming plaque in arteries and increasing heart attack risk. Gum disease weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections like kidney disease. It also raises inflammation, increasing the risk of rheumatoid arthritis and worsening its symptoms. Additionally, gum disease complicates diabetes management by elevating blood sugar levels and is linked to premature birth and low birth weight. Artificial sweeteners, such as sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin, can disrupt gut bacteria, contribute to metabolic syndrome, and pose carcinogenic risks.

Cardiovascular Disease Bacteria from infected gums can enter the bloodstream and contribute to the formation of plaque in the arteries. This plaque buildup can restrict blood flow and potentially lead to heart attacks. Studies have shown a significant correlation between periodontal (gum) disease and cardiovascular diseases, highlighting the importance of oral health in maintaining a healthy heart.

Kidney Disease Gum disease can weaken the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to infections, including those that affect the kidneys. Chronic kidney disease can result from long-term inflammation and infection caused by poor oral health. The kidneys play a vital role in filtering waste from the blood, and when they are compromised, it can lead to severe health issues.

Rheumatoid Arthritis Bacteria from periodontitis (severe gum disease) and gingivitis can increase inflammation throughout the body. This systemic inflammation can elevate the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Additionally, dental issues can exacerbate RA symptoms by triggering further inflammation, which can intensify joint pain and discomfort.

Diabetes Gum disease can lead to higher blood sugar levels, making diabetes more difficult to control. The relationship between diabetes and gum disease is bidirectional; poor blood sugar control can worsen gum disease, and severe gum disease can lead to increased blood sugar levels, creating a vicious cycle that complicates diabetes management.

Pregnancy and Birth Complications Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight in infants. Pregnant women with severe gum disease are more likely to deliver prematurely or have babies with low birth weight. Maintaining good oral hygiene during pregnancy is crucial for both maternal and fetal health.

The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners

While you might think switching to artificial sweeteners is a healthier choice, many of these substitutes come with their own set of risks. Sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin are commonly used artificial sweeteners, and they can have serious health implications.

1. Carcinogenic Risks

Studies have shown that some artificial sweeteners may be carcinogenic, meaning they can increase the risk of cancer. For example, saccharin was once banned because of its potential link to bladder cancer in laboratory rats. Although the ban was lifted, concerns remain about the long-term health effects of consuming these substances.

2. Gut Bacteria Disruption

Artificial sweeteners can also damage your gut microbiome—the community of bacteria living in your digestive system that plays a crucial role in your overall health. Studies have found that artificial sweeteners like sucralose and aspartame can alter the composition of gut bacteria, leading to negative health effects. These disruptions can impair your body’s ability to manage blood sugar, potentially increasing the risk of metabolic disorders like diabetes.

3. Metabolic Syndrome

There is evidence to suggest that artificial sweeteners can contribute to metabolic syndrome—a cluster of conditions that increase the risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. This can occur because artificial sweeteners may trick the body into a metabolic response, causing insulin spikes and other hormonal imbalances.

Healthier Alternatives: Natural Sweeteners

Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives that can satisfy your sweet tooth without the negative health impacts of sugar and artificial sweeteners. Natural sweeteners like allulose, monk fruit, xylitol, and stevia offer a sweet taste without harmful effects.

1. Allulose

Allulose is a low-calorie sweetener that tastes like sugar but doesn’t have the same negative health effects. It’s absorbed by the body but not metabolized, so it doesn’t contribute to blood sugar spikes or weight gain. Studies have shown that allulose may even help reduce fat accumulation and improve insulin sensitivity.

2. Monk Fruit

Monk fruit extract is a natural sweetener that is incredibly sweet—up to 200 times sweeter than sugar—but it contains no calories or carbohydrates. It has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and has no known adverse effects. Monk fruit extract does not impact blood sugar levels, making it an excellent option for those managing diabetes.

3. Xylitol

Xylitol is a sugar alcohol found in many fruits and vegetables. It has about the same sweetness as sugar but with fewer calories. Xylitol does not raise blood sugar or insulin levels and is known to be beneficial for dental health. It can reduce the risk of cavities and improve overall oral health.

4. Stevia

Stevia is a plant-based sweetener derived from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. It is hundreds of times sweeter than sugar but has no calories. Stevia has been shown to have various health benefits, including lowering blood sugar and blood pressure levels. Unlike artificial sweeteners, stevia supports a healthy gut microbiome.

Conclusion

Sugar and artificial sweeteners pose significant health risks, from weight gain and diabetes to disrupting your gut health and potentially increasing cancer risks. However, you don’t have to give up sweetness altogether. Natural sweeteners like allulose, monk fruit, xylitol, and stevia provide a healthier way to enjoy sweet flavors without the negative health consequences. By making mindful choices about the sweeteners you use, you can support your overall health and well-being.


By opting for natural sweeteners, you not only avoid the harmful effects of sugar and artificial sweeteners but also support your body’s health in numerous ways. So, next time you’re craving something sweet, reach for a natural alternative and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, happier life.

This brand of stevia seems to be less bitter;

Stevia is great for sweetening beverages, but has no volume and is difficult in recipes. It’s 200x sweeter than sugar. If you use too much it will taste bitter.

Here is a link to purchase the smaller one on Amazon; LINK

Here’s a link to purchase the larger one, you can refill the smaller one and it’s overall less expensive: LINK

This Monk Fruit is very sweet (if you use it in recipes, cut the amount of by 25%). The flavor is good. I use it for Pudding (see the recipes on my site), Cheese Cake, Biscotti, working on Brownies, but struggling with the texture. It can come out grainy.

Here’s a link to purchase the Monk Fruit: LINK

Dr Gundry recommends Allulose. I have not experimented with it as much as it’s more expensive and less sweet. LINK

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