From Pure Facts issues October 2004; December/January 2005; April 2005 and others
* Type One diabetes is not caused or prevented by anything you eat; it is an autoimmune disease in which the insulin-producing cells are destroyed.
What about sugar?
The Feingold Program does not eliminate sugar or junk food (although we encourage moderation). Sugar is often believed to be the culprit in behavioral problems because sugary foods are generally loaded with synthetic additives. A small number of children don't do well with sugar, but most can enjoy sweets as long as they don't overdo them or eat them on an empty stomach. Cane sugar is the best tolerated. Most also tolerate beet sugar (most plain sugar not labeled "cane sugar" is made from beets), but quite a few don't handle corn syrup very well. Corn syrup also contains high levels of sulfite, used in converting the cornstarch to corn syrup. Sulfite should be avoided by those with asthma or sulfite sensitivity.
It's not just the vending machines
It's clear that excessive consumption of sugar leads to obesity, which can lead to diabetes (Type Two*), heart disease and other health problems. One of the shocking discoveries made recently was that even some of the meat-based dishes served in school cafeterias contain enormous amounts of sugar. Twelve of the ingredients in the barbecued pork rib pattie entree are sugar!
School Lunch: BBQ Pork Rib Pattie:
- Sugar (3 listings)
- Molasses powder
- Maltodextrin (2 listings)
- Corn syrup solids (2 listings)
- High fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Corn syrup
We frequently are asked about the new sweeteners that are now available. While we have some information, it is difficult to obtain accurate, unbiased evaluations of these products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for determining which sweeteners are safe and which are not. Unfortunately, the decisions are often made by the agency's politically appointed leaders, not by the scientists who are qualified to do so. This is dramatically shown in the FDA's whitewash of a sweetener that has been shown to be harmful (aspartame). Instead, taxpayer money has paid for the agency's attempts to ban a competing sweetener with a long history of use in other countries (stevia).
A senior FDA toxicologist, the late Dr. Adrian Gross, who tried to prevent the approval of aspartame, told Congress that it violated the Delaney Amendment because it triggered brain tumors, and that "If the FDA violates its own laws, who is left to protect the public?"
So, when it comes to deciding which sweeteners are good options for Feingold members, we can rule out our government as a credible resource.
Studies published in medical journals might be a good resource, but it's expensive to conduct studies, and in most cases they are funded by the companies that sell the item being studied, and fraud is all too common.
The word of a scientific expert would be helpful provided that the expert is not receiving money from the company, another common practice.
Can you rely on the company to give you accurate information? One of our members contacted the manufacturer of sucralose (marketed as Splenda). Because it is so intensely sweet, a teaspoon of Splenda would contain just a tiny amount of the actual sucralose powder. To bulk it up so that it can be used in the same quantity as sugar for recipes, they use a bulking agent (corn syrup!). The member asked about the company claim that it is a zero calorie product. Actually the pourable Splenda contains about 4 calories per teaspoonful, but the company claimed that their lawyers say a product can be described as having zero calories if it has less than 5 calories per serving. If you use Splenda in cooking or baking, you will be using much more than one teaspoon. A cupful of Splenda, at 4 calories per teaspoon, adds up to a lot more than zero.
- Diet Soda: A Marketing Executive's Dream
- Aspartame: The studies
- Neotame: What is it?
- D-Tagatose: What is it?
- Maltodextrin: What is it?
Sugars can be created from many sources but in order to be produced in quantity and sold as sweeteners, most of them have undergone many chemical processes. Sometimes the molecules of the sweetener are altered so they are not recognized by the body and are not processed in the same way. This means that we can experience the sweetness of something like D-tagatose but our bodies don't recognize it as sugar.
It is difficult to predict if the chemicals used will cause problems for sensitive individuals. And it is not possible to know if there will be a negative effect from consuming things that our bodies don't recognize and don't know how to handle.
Which sweetener to use?
There's so much we don't know about sweeteners, but the Association does have the accumulated experience of many thousands of families. Combining experience with what we do know, here's a suggested guideline for choosing sweeteners:
- Acceptable choices
- Acceptable, but don't overdo
When a sugar name ends in "ol" that means it is an alcohol sugar. Too much has a laxative effect.
- Less desirable
- Do not use