Which sugar alternatives are safe?

Saturday, 19 September 2015

I’d like your opinion on the whole “no sugar” movement. Do you think we are taking it a bit too far, with some people even refusing to eat fruit because they contain sugar? Also, which sugar alternatives are safe and which aren’t?


We asked Dr Duncombe from Skin & Body Renewal. Here’s what he had to say:

“The sugar debate certainly is an interesting one. I most definitely agree with eliminating (or at least minimal consumption) of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates. High sugar and carbohydrate intake is responsible for the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in our modern day society and it is killing us slowly. Several studies have shown that these refined sugars light up the reward centres of our brains, and that we are physically addicted to sugar. The 21 day sugar challenge clearly illustrates this and those individuals who have done it will testify to this fact. Eliminating sugar and refined carbs from your diet causes withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, irritability, anger, depression etc. Once these foods have been removed from the diet completely for 21 days the cravings disappear and there are clear benefits to general health. However, I do not agree with eliminating fruit from the diet. Fruit contains lots of antioxidants which has major health benefits and form part of a balanced diet. There is such a thing as too much fruit though and fruit juices are not a healthy option. Once fruit is juiced, all the fibre that was binding the sugar is removed and the impact on blood sugar levels are much more profound.

When it comes to sugar substitutes I prefer Stevia. It has no calories and does not impact on blood sugar levels at all. Xylitol is also another safe option and many people prefer its taste to that of Stevia. Aspartame is the most harmful of all sweeteners and I do not recommend it all. It has a detrimental effect on insulin receptors in the brain and also causes inflammation in the body. Honey is okay in small amounts but the sugar in there is Fructose, which has a detrimental effect on insulin levels and should only be used in moderation. As for all of the other synthetic sweeteners, you are probably better off avoiding them all.”

Got a health question? Ask Dr Duncombe about it here.

Other articles you may be interested in:
Want low cholesterol and lots of energy?
How to: Stop unhealthy eating
Paleo vs. Banting
Does red wine have any health benefits?
How to: Make nearly-there carb-free bread

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  1. Phiandre Burke

    I have given up sugar quite some time ago, it was the best decision I’ve ever made-health wise. As an alternative I use Stevia and in baking Coconut sugar. My taste buds sure has gone through a massive change ;-)

    3 years ago •


    I have been meaning to try Xylitol, but was skeptical. Thanks for the heads up.

    3 years ago •

  1. motherly

    I started using Xylitol about two months ago, this article has been really helpful! thanks!

    3 years ago •

  1. foreverGLAM

    Thank you for the article. I mostly use brown sugar but still consume a bit of white sugar as well.

    3 years ago •

  1. Lucretia Splinters

    I did a lot of aspartame (in Gaviscon) during my pregnancy, lots more in chewing gum and then more in sweeteners when I desperately tried to lose weight after my pregnancy. Wish that I was wiser then because I now have rheumatoid arthritis (autoimmune inflammatory disease of the joints) and believe that aspartame was a contributing factor. Don’t compromise your health and do research.

    3 years ago •

  1. Salmaa Moosa

    eye opener for us all! thanks for the great article

    3 years ago •

  1. Chantelle Thompson

    Been using Xylitol for more than a year now, love it. I don’t like the taste of stevia at all but be careful with xylitol, it is deadly to animals

    3 years ago •

  1. Mark Parr

    I am using these sweeteners and never knew they were that harmful. This information is scary.

    3 years ago •

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