Secret World of Hidden Sugars and Artificial Sweeteners

Last week, I was away on holiday to Peak District with my husband and his cousins. We had rented out a cottage for the week and this meant that we were making our own meals. One evening, after buying some groceries, somehow the topic of food labelling came up and I started to share everything I know. Particularly, I began to discuss how food manufacturers get away with mislabelling and all the different names of sugars. And just the other day, I had a cousin message me asking me about the different names of sugar in Weetabix (two of the first three ingredients is a form of sugar). Therefore, since my trip, I feel really inspired to share with all of you all the different names of sugars and how to look out for them on food labels.

Basically, when it comes to label reading, if sugar, or any form of sugar or sweetener is listed as one of the first three ingredients of the list, then it is considered to be a dessert. There are so many different names for sugars and sweeteners that it is rather difficult to keep up with them. The general rule of thumb is that if you don’t know what an ingredient is on the list, then its not something you want to consume. And yes, even caramel is a type of sugar. Click here to view a thorough list of the different names of sugars and sweeteners. If the sugar doesn’t occur naturally, it isn’t good for you. For example, any form of refined sugar (which includes most of the names on the list and any artificial sweetener) can lead to an increased loss of calcium from the bone. When you consume refined sugar on a regular basis, you increase your loss of calcium in the blood through your urine. Therefore, the body must pull calcium from the bones to maintain blood calcium levels.

Truth be told, it is actually quite difficult, but not impossible, to buy packaged and processed foods that do not contain added sugars and sweeteners. All carbohydrates have natural occurring sugar. For example, if you are buying a package of frozen berries, the ingredients should only be the berries themselves. If you see anything else, or any sugars, then the berries have been processed, because no fruit needs to have any added sugar. Fruits already have fructose in them, making them naturally sweet. Therefore, stay clear of fruit juices that have added sugars. Anything that says “sugarfree” isn’t always true. Sugar Free products have sweeteners put into them, which technically, make it “sugar” free, but not sweetener free. For example, I have taken a pack of gum, “Wrigley’s Extra Cool Breeze Sugarfree Gum.” Logically, if a packet says “sugar free,” you expect it to have no sugar, but when I turned the pack around and looked at the ingredients, I found 6 different “sweeteners.”

Sugar is sugar and the only pure natural forms of sugar are glucose, fructose, galactose, sucrose, maltose, and lactose. But the beauty behind this is that they are all naturally occurring in various carbohydrates, including dairy. However, sugar can only be extracted in sufficient amounts from sugarcane and sugar beet. Remember, if milk is an ingredient in a food product, the ingredient list should say “milk.” But if they also list “lactose,” then this means that lactose was artificially created and added in.

So what are the hazards of refined and artificial sugars and sweeteners? Well, artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame-K, and saccharin have been linked to behavioural problems, hyperactivity, allergies, and are possibly carcinogenic. And listen to this, the government itself recommends that children and pregnant women should not consume any artificial sweetener. Despite this, artificial sugars and sweeteners are used in just about every packaged and processed food.

I can go on and on about the different sugars, how they are made and the different hazards. Therefore, consider this blog post to be an introduction to the hazards of artificial sugars. Stay tuned for more articles about how some of these different sugars are made and their hazards. In conjunction with sugars, in future posts, I will also discuss the variety of artificial preservatives and more details about nutrition label reading.

Health and happiness,