We all know sugar is bad for a multitude of reasons. From brain function, to bone health, to heart and blood health and so on, more and more research is revealing just how bad sugar (particularly sugar substitutes) are for not only the body but also the brain – some even relating it to having similar effects on the mind to that of certain illegal drugs. It’s a touchy topic for the skeptical consumer who is watching their grocery budget, however, it is becoming more clear every day that this is something that shouldn’t be avoided any longer.

When deciding to pay attention to the sugar intake in your diet (primarily unnatural forms) it’s important to look beyond the nutrition facts label and pay attention to the actual ingredients. Food manufacturers have developed several alternative names for sugar that are not required to actually be categorize as “sugar” within the nutrition facts. As a result, you could be buying a product that you think has little or no sugar but in reality are getting a lot more than you may know and in a much more harmful form.

Below are the most common forms of sugar. Most people are aware of fructose, but lactose, that such as found in milk, and sucrose, found in sports drinks such as Gatorade are just as harmful to your body if consumed in high amounts.

Sugar Forms:

  • Glucose
  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Lactose

In addition, below is a list of original sources of sugar. Original sources like that from fruit are better for you than any sugar substitutes found in many processed foods today but should still be taken in moderation.

Original Sources of Sugar:

  • Maple Sugar
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sugar Cane
  • Cain Juice

If you really want to experiment, you can look at just about any box of cereal no matter how healthy it is proclaimed to be and read the ingredients and you will likely be baffled by the amount of sugar substitutes listed that are not in the nutrition facts. In fact, cereal is one of the worse when it comes to amounts of sugar substitutes. Below are just a few you may find in cereal and plenty of other foods as well.

Corn & Corn Derivatives (Sugar Substitutes):

  • Corn Syrup
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Corn Oil
  • Cornmeal
  • Cornstarch
  • Dextrose
  • MSG
  • Xanthan Gum
  • Maltodextrin

Also, what may be a surprise to many people is the amount of sugar found in grains. Many think they are eating healthier by eating wheat or full grain bread or brown rice and oatmeal. The truth however, is that grain actually turns to sugar within about 4 seconds after of coming in contact with the human tongue. In addition, most modern grains are not considered a natural form of sugar because the genetic modification the wheat plant underwent in previous industrial revolutions.

Grains:

  • Wheat
  • Rice (brown & white)
  • Oats
  • Barley

For the individual who may just beginning to take steps toward adjusting their eating habits and living a healthier lifestyle, this may sound overwhelming at first. However, once it is understood that how much of the food that is consumed by the general population has been modified and altered and the health defects so many people experience as a result, it is much more encouraging to form new habits. Also, if you are seeking to sweeten their food without the use of fruit or other natural sources, the natural herb stevia can also be used which is sold at most grocery stores.

As more people become aware about the dangers of artificial sugar substitutes and how they relate to many illnesses such as diabetes, many still don’t realize that most of what they are consuming is still filled with sugar. Even if one has taken steps to lower their sugar intake, it is likely it can still be sneaking into your diet as a result of the numerous alternative names for the substance. This is why it is the responsibility of every individual to understand what these sugar substitutes are, and how to avoid them if they truly want to cultivate a healthy and active lifestyle.