Category Archives: Stevia

My Preferred Sweeteners

OK, I said I would post the next day, but man was I wrong. Life has a pretty sneaky way of making things a bit hectic, but I was able to handle it with ease (thanks to meditation, yoga and deep breathing!). I went to a Macbeth audition (what, you didn’t know I liked to act?), and was cast the part of a witch. Is it strange that I was actually wanting to get that role? I’m also playing an old man. Can’t wait to get into it.

With all these interruptions (but good interruptions) I felt really bad for not blogging, because I really wanted to share with you guys and follow up on the last post about artificial sweeteners.
In this post, I told you I was going to talk about my absolute love for two sweeteners; then I’ll tell you of two other sweeteners that I haven’t tried but want to very soon (does anyone want to purchase them for me?? :)).

I absolutely LOVE this sugar alcohol and use it very regularly. **But first a caution: using it regularly in large amounts will make you very “regular”, so to speak. Sugar alcohols are known to have a laxative effect when taken in excess, so when you find yourself loving this sweetener after I get done talking about it, be sure to use it with care.**
Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that is found in most edible plant sources, and is usually extracted from the fibers of fruits or vegetables (if anyone else knows where this is found and extracted, let me know). Some times it is called wood sugar or birch sugar, due to where it comes from.
The sweetness of xylitol is about the same as sugar, with 40% less calories per gram (about 2.5 cal./g compared to white sugar at 4 cal./gram) than white sugar.
The taste of xylitol is absolutely amazing, to me, as it is very cool and “clean”, and it doesn’t make you feel naughty by eating by the spoonful (actually, I don’t recommend doing this!).
The glycemic index of Xylitol is 13 compared to white sugar which is around 60-65. The glycemic index is a scale from 0-100 that rates the effect of foods on blood sugar levels (0 being no effect, 100 being a big effect). I like following a low-glycemic diet most of the time, but sometimes this system isn’t always accurate (I will blog more about this topic later).
So, Xylitol has very little effect on isulin levels, which is why I enjoy it so much, because I believe that keeping our insulin levels low we can achieve optimal health and wellness–anti-aging, healthy weight, healthy skin, hair and nails, improved mood and concentration, healthy leptin and grehlin signaling, etc.
Xylitol is also relatively inexpensive compared to other sugar alcohols. There is erythritol, which I haven’t tried but I have heard many good things about. It isn’t as sweet, and it’s more expensive, but it has virtually no effect on our insulin levels which is a plus! However, I really do believe that xylitol might be the safest sugar alcohol out there. Dr. Joseph Mercola even agrees (my hero).
A couple of interesting things I learned about xylitol was that
1. Our bodies produce up to 15 grams of xylitol a day. So you know it’s natural!
2. It’s a sweetener used widely in Finland. Who knew? Well, I guess they do, obviously.
I like to purchase my Xylitol online, because it is less expensive than buying 1 lb at the health food store for $7. Online, I can get 3 lbs for $17.99 (these prices, or the availability sometimes change, though). This is the brand I like.

Stevia is an amazing herb native to South America. It has been used for centuries as a natural sweetener, and is becoming more known throughout North America (see the new products that contain this sweetener mixed with sugar alcohol Erythritol: PureVia and Truvia).
This sweetener is up to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar, so if you purchase pure stevia (up to 90-90% stevosides), only about 1/2 tsp. needs to equal 1 cup of sugar! It also has no known effect on insulin levels, which is another reason why I like it.
A good source to purchase stevia is from Amazon, or iHerb. Sometimes I have purchased pure stevia on eBay, but be wary because you don’t always know the source of the product. Many people like the NuNaturals Stevia brand the best; I also think it’s popular because the price is relatively low compared to other sweeteners. Look around until you can find the one you like.
Usually when I make/bake and have to use a sweetener, I tend to blend stevia, xylitol and small amounts of raw honey and organic Sucanat, a less refined sugar that still contains many nutrients present in the sugar cane. I also like to make sure there is enough fiber (coconut flour, anyone?) and good quality fat (there are some recipes I need to show you that use healthy fats while still lowering the calories of different foods) to slow down the absorption of the added sugars (though still very little).
For now I will leave you to your exploration of alternative sweeteners. Before I go, I would like for anyone who has every tried coconut palm sugar to please raise their hand. How do you like it? I know it has the same calories as sugar, but is much lower on the glycemic index. I shall find a good source so I can do a little experimentation.
Also, if you have any questions or comments, please post them–I’m here to help you! I love finding things out about nutrition, health and wellness, so anything will be appreciated. Tell you friends, too, by sharing this blog or this post via “Add This” at the top of this blog. I’ll love you forever! (Although I already do.)
Until next time, this has been the Healthy Advocate.

I Choose Natural Sweeteners

Woo hoo! My order of Xylitol, Psyllium Husks, organic Coconut Oil and aluminum free baking soda arrived today! I’m so excited because I thought it wouldn’t arrive here late in the evening. I already have a grain-free, sugar free and gluten free Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake (recipe courtesy of Lauren at Healthy Indulgences) in the oven, sweetened with my beloved sweeteners, Xylitol and Stevia.

This is the brand of Xylitol I use the most. You can find it here.

Why do I choose Xylitol and Stevia over cheaper alternatives, like Aspartame or Sucralose? Xylitol is pretty inexpensive online, if you see the link above, but what makes me shun artificial sweeteners over more natural and healthy alternatives? Here is a short list of what I have found out to be true of sweeteners such as aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet) and sucralose (aka, Splenda). This list is by no means exhaustive or complete.
#1Other than being completely foreign to your body, these substances are completely unnatural, and have only been in the market, and the food supply, for a very short time. These are CHEMICALS that our bodies were NOT designed to ingest. If you gave this to your great-great-great grandmother, you would bet she would not have eaten this, and would have stuck to natural sugar (and crazy, seeing how diabetes was somewhat of a rarity back then).
#2 – Artificial sweeteners trick your body’s metabolism, leptin signals (a hormone telling you you’re full) and increases your chances of craving more calories, usually in the form of carbohydrates, and will lead to weight gain.
Whenever a sweet substance touches the tongue, our brains senses that this is food and it is time for our body to produce insulin to take that food and bring it into our cells for the use of energy. This is exactly what happens with artificial sweeteners. The sweetness emerges, as does the insulin, but calories are not delivered for the cells to take in for energy. Now you have all this insulin surging through your body waiting for that energy that you unintentionally promised it.
When we have unwanted insulin flowing throughout our body, doing nothing, it will store in our body as fat deposits, or as adipose tissue. Also, when we promise our body calories yet fail to deliver, our bodies will revolt against that trickery and make us crave carbohydrates much more than if we had regular sugar. See this study, followed by this video to find out why:
Aspartame also interferes with the hormones serotonin and dopamine, which can lead to the cravings for carbohydrates, particularly refined carbohydrates.

Also, according to a study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Splenda has been shown to decrease the beneficial bacteria in our intestines by up to 50%. Without good bacteria in our system, this can back up the digestion of our food and make it that much easier for it to be stored as fat, rather than be assimilated in the proper places within our body.

#3Aspartame, as in Equal or NutraSweet, can lead to the build up of formaldehyde within the brain. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, and can also interfere with your DNA. This buildup in the brain and body is something that definitely motivated ME to get OFF of aspartame, and eventually sucralose (Splenda).
Artificial sweeteners also can form excitoxins, which are toxins that can actually excite your brain cells to death. Dr. Russell Blaylock, a well known neurosurgeon coined this term and has researched and written on this topic extensively.
#4 – Artificial sweeteners are NOT calorie free. A loophole in the law says that any nutritional content that is less than .5 g or 5 cal/kcal, can be listed as dietarily zero. Splenda actually contains 99% sugar (the fillers dextrose and multodextrin are sugars), whereas only 1% is actually the chlorinated chemical, sucraclose. This can be disastrous for people who are trying to watch calories, or for people with diabetes. Dr. Merocla explains this well in the video below:
#5Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose have NOT been proven, or rigorously tested, to be safe in our diet. There have been many studies, however, but most were done on animals, and most studies were funded by the actual companies who make these chemical sweeteners.
Here is an excerpt from the website WomanToWoman, speaking about the studies on Splenda:
“Here are two other reasons for our concern: first, in the eleven years after Splenda was put on the market, no independent studies of sucralose lasting more than six months have been done in humans. Second, none of the trials that were done was very large — the largest was 128 people studied for three months, making us wonder, what happens when you’ve used sucralose for a year, or two, or ten?”

The author also notes that the own manufacture’s studies resulted in shrunken thymus glands, enlarged livers and kidney disorders in rodents. However, this was not taken seriously as it could not be seen as conductive toward humans. Although, no studies on humans were done to test this, partly out of conflict of interests, partly from human integrity (hopefully).
Also, according to Dr. Mercola who wrote the book Sweet Deception: Why Splenda, NutraSweet, and the FDA May Be Hazardous to Your Health, studies on Aspartame were far from exhaustive:
“The approval was given after the FDA supposedly reviewed more than 110 animal and human safety studies, but out of these 110 studies, only two were human studies, and the longest one was conducted for four days!”

When the results of the studies came back from the animal labs, it showed increased male infertility, brain lesions, decreased red blood cells (anemia), spontaneous abortions and enlarged kidneys.
There is more I would like to cover about this very important topic, but I shall save it for another day. Diet drinks were not covered, but I should be able to form an entire post about such products.
Tomorrow, I will delve into natural, healthier sweetening alternatives, mainly focusing on my favorites, Stevia and Xylitol. For just a preview, Stevia, my favorite sweetener, is actually an herb and contains NO calories, carbs or sugar. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol which has virtually no effect on insulin levels and has 6 calories less than regular table sugar (for those interested in watching their caloric intake).
For now, this has been the Healthy Advocate.
P.S. If you like this post, or have any questions, please post a comment! I LOVE hearing from anyone and everyone who reads my writing and my research as it makes it all worth while. You can also post a question regarding a health matter that you would like me to cover in a later post.