Sweetener - the holy sugar substitute?

Refined sugar is the new boss of the food industry. Why? According to the studies listed below, it can be addictive and can immensely increase the risk of contracting diseases of civilisation such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. [1][2] The positive side: society's awareness of this is growing more and more and the market must act.

This is why both food giants and many food start-ups with light, zero or low-carb products promise the solution to all ills. The fascinating thing is that these alternatives even taste almost as sweet as their originals and the nutritional value tables with their 0g sugar values shine like a fat cheque into happiness.

But what is not visible in the nutritional value table, the attentive buyer will notice in the list of ingredients: aspartame, acesulfame K, maltitol, saccharin or sucralose. These sweeteners are mostly of synthetic nature and are characterised by their partly very high sweetening power and the insulin-independent metabolism. In addition, sweeteners cannot be digested by the body to the extent that they supply calories. Sounds good at first, doesn't it? 

The flip side 

Unfortunately, as with many (supposedly) beautiful things, there is also a big but here. The harmless effect of sweeteners on health has always been the subject of controversial debate. Even though the use of these synthetic sweeteners is permitted by law, various studies show that adverse effects cannot be ruled out when consumed regularly. For example, there is no clear statement that sweeteners support weight loss. On the contrary, observational studies show that routine sweetener consumption leads to weight gain and a higher risk of coronary heart disease [3][4]. 

Since sweeteners are not absorbed through the small intestine like most other nutrients, they reach the large intestine, but in contrast to dietary fibres they have a rather negative influence on the intestinal flora. The healthy balance of the natural intestinal bacteria can be upset by the intake of sweeteners in such a way that the utilization of glucose (as a component of carbohydrates such as starch or sugar) is disturbed. The imbalance of the intestinal flora can also increase the breakdown of carbohydrates in the body, which ultimately leads to an increase in blood sugar levels. Ironically, this can also promote the development of diabetes [5]. 

0g sugar vs. naturalness 

For us, the choice was clear: we remain true to ourselves and also focus on naturalness in the sweetness. And honesty. Synthetic sweeteners that enhance the nutritional profile are neither one thing nor the other. We have consciously decided against the unknown and still unexplored risk and rely on the sustainable, natural and unrefined sugar alternative for our products: coconut blossom sugar. Although coconut blossom sugar scores points with a number of positive arguments, such as the micronutrients and trace elements it contains as well as a low glycemic index, it goes without saying that we have used it as sparingly as possible.[6] A nupro shake stirred into water contains only 1.5 to a maximum of 3% sugar, depending on the variety (for example, the berries and bananas used also naturally contain sugar). 

We think that this is a good compromise, with which we can combine taste and health in our eyes. Convince yourself and share your opinion in the comments.  

1] Ahmed et al (2013): Sugar addiction: pushing the drug-sugar analogy to the limit; Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
[2] Lustig et al. (2012): The toxic truth about sugar; Nature
3] Polyák et al (2010): Effects of artificial sweeteners on body weight, food and drink intake; Acta Physiologica Hungarica
[4] Yang, Qing (2010): Gain weight by "going diet?" Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings; Yale J Biol Med
5] Suez et al (2014): Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota; Nature
6] TP Trinidad (2003): Nutritional and health benefits of coconut sap sugar/syrup; Food and Nutrition Research Institute