We all love a sweet treat every now and then. We sweeten our tea, coffee and cereal daily. It’s a brain, taste, and happiness exercise for sure. But if you are using sugar or a manufactured, fake sugar-like substitute let’s rethink your choice for just a minute. Here’s why to rethink sugar substitutes:

Bathroom Time. Yes, bathroom.

Artificial sweeteners can cause you to go to the bathroom more often. They may cause the muscles in your bladder to become hyperactive – forcing you to potty and potty and waste time in the potty. Recent reports are also linking specific sugar substitutes you eat every day to major digestive problems including diarrhea, cramps, gas and bloating. They are specifically called sugar alcohols, which are calorie-reduced sugar substitutes that include sorbitol and malitol, which are found in “sugar-free” gums, candy and baked goods. Ugh.

Substitutes and Diabetes.

As the sweet receptors in your esophagus and stomach are “tricked” by the zero-calorie substitutes, your pancreas is tricked into sending a false spike of insulin that can lead to insulin resistance. This can lead to diabetes. And… since artificial sweeteners cause your body to crave more food, you can also put on weight, which further increases your risk for diabetes. No thanks.

In addition to diabetes, artificial sweeteners may be contributing to a nationwide epidemic of metabolic syndrome, which includes diabetes-inducing insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and too much fat around the waistline. So just say NO.

Sweet Cancer. What?

When artificial sweeteners like saccharin were first marketed, some studies showed an increased rate of cancer in animals. However, the FDA has done due diligence in their research for these sweeteners, and no evidence exists that moderate use in humans can cause cancer. However, according to a landmark report issued by the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF), the evidence that *excess body fat* increases the risk of developing cancer is much stronger now than ever before. The connection isn’t clear, but these cancers include cancers of the colon, kidney, pancreas, esophagus and breast. Play it safe – just more reasons to say NO to artificial.

Your Options. We love tasty, sweet and healthy options.

•Honey: Unlike white table sugar, honey is a complex food. One teaspoon contains 25 other compounds including proteins, amino acids and trace minerals. Go for pure, raw, unfiltered and local.

•Raw Buckwheat Honey: This darker version of honey is much less processed and refined that light-colored regular honey. It isn’t strained or heated, so it retains many disease-fighting nutrients and antioxidants. Try about 1 tablespoon a day.

•Maple Syrup: It’s not just for pancakes! Not only does maple syrup taste yummy it is packed with health-boosting properties and a low-glycemic index. A University of Rhode Island study (2011) identified 54 beneficial compounds in maple syrup giving this syrupy goodness anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent all sorts of inflammatory diseases like heart disease, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s. This is not a license to douse everything in maple syrup – too much of a good thing is still too much. Pure maple syrup (and that’s what we are talking about – none of that pretend stuff) can be a bit more expensive but it’s what you gotta have to reap the benefits and the sweetness. A little goes a long way!

•Stevia: This non-caloric sweetener comes from a plant and is all-natural. However, beware: *There are a ton of stevia products sold with extra additives as some companies blend it with other sweeteners. (Note – Stevia is one of our favorites and it is not cheap – BUT – you can hop on Amazon and get TWO shakers of Sweet Leaf 100% Natural Stevia almost (generally about $18) for what one would cost you at the grocery store (about $14).

Treat yourself to the sweet life the healthy way!