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Wednesday, 8 March 2017

My thoughts on "Swerve" a new natural sweetener

Just the other day a friend of mine posted a photo of a purple bag saying "Swerve where have you been all my life" the bag read "The Ultimate Sugar Replacement" so of course I had to do some googling and find out what the ingredients were. 

I try to avoid all artificial sweeteners but I can tell you I used to be a HUGE diet coke drinker. I’ve learned that artificial sweeteners are chemicals created in a laboratory for the food industry and they don’t resemble anything our bodies can recognize as food.  Many of the new artificial sweeteners seem like a good thing but we REALLY DON’T know the effects of them until they are out in the market for human consumption for several years and possibly cause problems.  I remember arguing with a family member about Splenda years ago… saying that it wasn’t natural and was bleached and chemically processed but all the advertising stated that it was from the "natural source".  Well guess what.... Natural is just a marketing term used to make consumers believe that a product is healthy.  At that time there was no research on splenda (Suclarose) and everything said it seemed ok, so that family member of mine was completely buying into the marketing of the product but now we know that sucralose is cancer causing and is on the list of the top 5 worst Artificial Sweeteners.  

Now I've only done a small amount of research on this new product "Swerve" but here is what I've learned so far. 

Swerve, the "all-natural sweetener" with no synthetic chemicals, no aspartame, and no genetically-modified organisms (GMOs). But is Swerve really a healthy sugar alternative for health-conscious individuals trying to cut refined sugars from their diet?

Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not a simple yes or no as it seems to be with many of the newer Sugar Substitutes. This is also why it wont be making it into my cart at the store.  Here's why.... Erythritol is a sugar alcohol like xylitol and while it is preferable to artificial sweeteners like Equal, Sweet'N Low, and Splenda, Swerve is still a highly-refined sweetening agent made primarily from erythritol, a type of sugar alcohol naturally found in plants. Erythritol is also on the list of the top 5 worst Artificial Sweetners. 

A lot of people think these sugar alcohol's are awesome because it decreases the amount of sugar and calories in what they’re consuming. You’ll commonly find it as an ingredient in low-sugar and sugar-free foods, but there are some very concerning and common erythritol side effects — even when it’s used in low amounts, erythritol consumption can cause diarrhea, stomachache and headache.

The reason why it doesn’t provide calories or sugar to its consumer is because the body actually can’t break it down! That’s right — even though erythritol travels through your body, it doesn’t get metabolized. Your body can't recognize it as a food source... just because a sweetener doesn’t have calories and doesn’t appear to affect blood sugar, it does not mean that it’s good for your health.

Besides erythritol, Swerve also contains oligosaccharides (say what?), which the company says are "non-digestible carbohydrates extracted from fruit and vegetable sources." According to other sources, oligosaccharides are complex sugars that can actually help prevent the formation of chronic illness. According to a 2009 study published in the journal Carbohydrate Polymers, oligosaccharides can help promote healthy weight maintenance, modulate gut flora, enhance immunity, reduce diabetes, and lower cardiovascular risk. For me personally if I can't pronounce it, buy it off the shelf, grow it or produce it in my kitchen then it's not an ingredient I want in my food. 

The product also contains "natural flavors," an ambiguous ingredient class that, despite having the word natural in its name, is still a laboratory creation. Though the natural flavors in Swerve are admittedly derived from fruit and vegetable sources, and do not contain hidden monosodium glutamate (MSG), they are still unspecified additives.

To its credit, Swerve is made from completely non-GMO ingredients, and appears to be made from the most natural forms of each ingredient it contains. But for me it honestly just reminds me of Splenda when it was the hot new sweetening product on the market. Remember, whole, natural sweeteners like raw honey, maple syrup and stevia leaf are still preferable sweetening alternatives, as they exist in whole form as nature intended. As someone with many diabetics in my family I can tell you that you don't have to turn to artificial sweeteners you can use honey and splenda in moderation, and because they are actually sweeter than sugar you can use less.  

You can decide for yourself but for me if it's created in a lab it's not going into my body! 
It took me a long time to even purchase stevia liquid because the powdered white form of stevia is created in a lab, bleached and processed beyond recognition.  But the liquid form the better solution apart from the whole leave or ground leave which would be a green powder not white!  

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