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Sweeteners - The good the bad and the unhealthy

By David Coory

I’ll admit it, I can sometimes crave sugar. However, I do my best to control it. I use a little stevia, but otherwise use natural unrefined sugars, which all still contain the trace mineral chromium.

Chromium is an essential trace mineral that allows insulin to carry the sugar into our body cells. It also helps prevent insulin resistance, which is the forerunner of type 2 diabetes.

White sugar has 97% of the chromium removed during refining. It ends up in molasses, the end product of refining.

What is our safe intake of sugar per day?

Our safe intake of all sugars is 10 to 15 teaspoons a day. If we eat about 2000 calories a day, our safe intake of sugar is about 10 teaspoons of sugar (40g). If we eat about 3000 calories a day, our safe limit is about 15 teaspoons (60g).

We should keep in mind that one can of fizzy drink can have 9 teaspoons (36g) of sugar. Fruit juices are almost as high.

So, for health purposes, let’s say a safe average is about 12 teaspoons (48g) of sugar a day. What is our typical sugar intake each day in NZ? And what does our Health Department report?

Our alarming daily intake in NZ

Horrors, the Health Department reports our NZ daily average sugar intake is 37 teaspoons (148g) a day, and nearly all of that would be chromium-barren white sugar.

Because of this massive intake, we are nearly almost likely addicted to sugar, therefore at serious risk of the following disorders:

De-stabilising our mind through spikes in our blood sugar.

Insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s.

Yeast infections and organ cancers.


Increased sensitivity to infections, asthma, hay fever and allergies of all kinds.

This high sugar intake also provides an ideal environment for tooth decay, tongue and mouth ulcers and gum disease.

Sugar addiction is powerful

In one scientific study, 94% of rats, allowed to choose between sugar and cocaine, chose sugar. Even rats addicted to cocaine, preferred sugar.

An American hospital surgeon reports that he sees patients whose feet he’s amputated the week before, rolling their wheelchairs down the hospital hall to the candy machine.

Normal human blood content is only 1 teaspoon of sugar

We have about 5 litres of blood in our body, yet our full normal blood sugar content at any one time is only about one teaspoon. That’s about 4.0 mmol/L on a finger-prick blood sugar test.

If it remains as high as 3 teaspoons (12.0 mmol/L) for more than two hours, it usually means we have type 2 diabetes. If it ever gets as high as 8 teaspoons (32.0 mmol/L or higher) we are normally in a coma with risk of death.

To avoid these dangers, all excess sugar is quickly withdrawn from our blood by insulin. It does this by converting excess blood sugar to a liquid fat called triglycerides. Our level of triglycerides is what a doctor looks at when he orders a blood test. A safe level is 2.0 mmol/L or lower.

This triglyceride fat is then stored as solid body fat in all the usual places, for future emergency energy use.

Test your blood sugar levels at home

Home test kits are readily available to check your blood sugar (glucose) levels, using a drop blood from your fingertip.

Blood sugar test kits can be quite reasonably priced. However, check customer reviews before purchasing, as some units or test strips can be highly erratic in their readings. You can test for consistency by taking three readings in a row – they ought to be all within 0.2 mmol/L of each other.

Normal readings between meals should be between 4.0 and 6.0 mmol/L. Higher readings up to 9.0 mmol/L should only be seen during the two hours following a meal.

Readings over 9.0 mmol/L indicate pre-diabetes and require a diet change and more exercise.

Readings of 12.0 mmol/L or more at any time indicate diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners

Natural plant-based sweeteners are based on stevia (960), monk fruit or erythritol (968). These are generally safe to use, but some people dislike the after taste of stevia.

Chemical sweeteners are aspartame (951), cyclamate (952), saccharin (954) and sucralose (955).

Huge numbers of negative reactions have been reported for aspartame (951), less so for saccharin (954) and sucralose (955), but all three can unbalance our healthy gut bacteria (probiotics), and all are reported to increase appetite and food cravings, leading to obesity, which defeats their purpose.