Go to your kitchen pantry and take a look at the ingredients label of just about any food. I guarantee there’s a good chance you’ll spot a food additive there. Food additives and artificial flavors are used to enhance flavor, appearance or texture of a product, as well as to extend products shelf lives. While some of these artificial ingredients show minimum risk to our health, most of them are associated with adverse health effects and should always be avoided. A great rule of thumb is to avoid at maximum all of these “artificial” ingredients.
We cannot deny, there have been great advances in food preparation in the last century and many of them came to facilitate our lives. These days, we can agree that half of the foods that we can buy in a typical supermarket are either pre packaged or prepared, ready for consumption. They need either no or minimal preparation before being ready to eat. However, there is a dark side to this convenience. The term “artificial” is mainly used in reference to ingredients or foods created to imitate nature, such as certain colorings or flavors. For example, food scientists developed artificial orange flavor to mimic the taste of real oranges. Sometimes, artificial ingredients are added to a food to provide a nutrient, such as calcium added to orange juice. Now if we are talking about nutrition labeling, “artificial” means anything added to a processed food that is not taken directly from a whole food. The nutrition label lists all artificial compounds in a processed food. In general, if the ingredient sounds like it came from a laboratory, it probably did (and we should probably avoid it).
Let’s dive into a little more detail about artificial ingredients and why they should not be our first option when it comes to shopping.
While FDA generally recognizes most additives on this list as ‘safe,’ there are growing concerns about the safety of many common food additives, if consumed in large quantities. Nutritionists recommend eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables to get required vitamins and minerals, but what about food that aren’t found in nature, such as milk fortified with vitamin D, Calcium-enriched pasta, and vitamin-filled soda? Despite fortification, these foods aren’t always as impressive as their labels claim, especially when compared to whole foods and natural products. Processing destroys certain nutrients, and the more processed an item is, the more nutrients are destroyed. Sometimes manufacturers add back vitamins that were lost in processing, so a processed fortified food is generally healthier than a processed unfortified one.
According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, heart disease, hypertension (high blood pressure), type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and certain types of cancer are some of the most common diseases caused by a poor diet and could be avoided by making smart food choices on a daily basis. Now let’s touch on the specific subject of artificial food sweeteners.
What are artificial sweeteners?
Artificial sweeteners are products that as the name says, are artificially made, and used instead of table sugar (sucrose) to sweeten foods and beverages. We tend to use them because they contain fewer calories than real sugar. Food manufacturers like them because they are sweeter than regular sugar, so naturally, smaller amounts are needed to result in the same level of sweetness. Some of the most common artificial sweeteners you might see on an ingredients label are: Aspartame, Saccharine, Sucralose, Acesulfame potassium, Neotame and Cyclamate.
Can our body properly digest and process those types of sweeteners?
We actually can not. Our body cannot absorb or digest artificial sweeteners. A study suggests that these products may be altering the bacteria in our gut. Researchers hypothesize that this microbial change could actually be what’s causing the glucose intolerance in many people. Maintaining gut health is important for digestion, immune function and nutrient absorption among other benefits.
According to a study from the University of Granada, Spain, “Intestinal microbial communities play a significant role in human health and disease; indeed, the intestinal microbiome is involved in metabolism, immunity, growth, and the fermentation of undigested carbohydrates.” The same study suggests that “Long-term prospective studies raise the concern that the consumption of artificial sweeteners might actually contribute to the development of metabolic derangements that lead to obesity, T2D, and cardiovascular disease.”
Bottom line is, if you have concerns about glucose intolerance or are worried about their long-term safety, you may want to cut sweeteners out of your diet or try switching to natural sweetened products, such as Hydra-Guard Sports Drink. Variety and moderation are important parts of any diet, and while some artificial foods can be part of a healthy eating plan, make whole fruits and vegetables and natural drinks a priority when choosing foods and beverages!
Overall, as I’ve shown in this blog post, a healthier diet can only bring benefits to our health and well being just as a “bad” diet is very likely to bring complications to our bodies. The most important part is to get started and not give up. It might seem harder at first but I guarantee it is worth it and you will adapt in the long run! Start small with small changes in products that you feel like are easier to switch and without even realizing, you will be following a better diet plan and lifestyle in little to no time! For example, I’ve always been a huge coffee guy. I love coffee-anything. Four years ago I started to drink coffee without any sugar or sweetener. I must confess that the first month it felt weird, but after that phase I lost my craving for sugar completely in every aspect of my life. Now I don’t even crave anything sweet solely because of the fact I slowly stopped consuming sugar in my diet and pushed through with consistency to finally get rid of it.
As a professional swimmer, the majority of the products and food I consume are from a natural background with extremely low to zero sugar and I choose not to have any artificial products on them. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink has been helping me recover after my swim workouts by replenishing my electrolytes with the right quantity while keeping me away from sugar and artificial sweeteners or food dye. Hydra-Guard Sports Drink is a great way of replenishing your essential electrolytes after a workout but keeping the calorie count low and consuming only 5g of natural sugars per bottle. If you want to check out the online store, you can use the code Joao10 for a discount on your checkout.