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The Skinny on Sugars and Sweeteners

By Ben Warren

Recently the World Health Organisation (WHO) findings have confirmed what we all knew - we're eating far too much sugar. Kiwi's are consuming, on average, 37 teaspoons of the stuff daily! That's 31 teaspoons over the amount recommended by the WHO, and about 34 teaspoons over the amount I recommend.

I think we all know how addictive sugar can be, but there are more to that addiction than you think. Eating sugar triggers the release of opioids in the brain, this makes you feel good and want more and more sugar.

When you do cut your sugar intake, be wary of the 'die off' period, which can cause various symptoms such as nausea and headaches. Keep at it though, the symptoms will only last 4-7 days - pretty soon you'll be feeling better!


What about artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners are the worst kind of 'sugar' you can consume, even worse than white processed sugar! Packed into soft drinks and various other foods and marketed as a dieting aid, artificial sweeteners increase your risk of developing Type 2 diabetes in the same way sugar does. My advice is to stay as far away as possible from artificial sweeteners. You won't be gaining any benefits and will only be adding unnecessary chemicals to your diet.

What are the sweetest options?

I'd prefer you to cut down on all sugars, regardless of how 'good' they are, but it's important to know what options you have if you really need something sweet. As I've said, artificial sweetener is the absolute worst and you should stay away from this at all costs. Next is refined sugar. It's not quite as bad as the artificial sweetener but contains absolutely no nutritional content and is still terrible for your health. Raw sugar is a slightly better option, but better still are natural sweeteners like natural maple syrup and honey. Ensure your maple syrup isn't the synthetic 'flavoured' kind though, because this doesn’t have the mineral content that natural maple syrup has. Honey should be as unprocessed as possible - try to find a good raw honey so as to not miss out on the health benefits! Your best option is blackstrap molasses. This is packed full of minerals and much better for you.

Where else is sugar hiding?

Have you ever flipped over a packet and read the ingredients list? A good thing to remember: the ingredient that is in the highest quantity is listed first. Often you'll see things like 'wheat flour', which metabolises into sugar in the body, or maltose, dextrose or any other word ending in -"ose", which all end up meaning the same thing - SUGAR. By naming it in its various forms, companies avoid having the word 'sugar' too high on the ingredients list! It's no wonder we consume too much. Try to stick to whole foods, but if you absolutely have to have something in a packet, make sure you read the ingredients list and stay away from the -"ose".



Ben Warren is one of New Zealand's leading nutrition and holistic health coaches. He founded BePure Health over 10 years ago to help reach his goal of empowering and supporting one million people to live healthier, happier lives. 

Ben now spends his time helping clients through the BePure Clinic in the Hawke's Bay, and travelling around the country presenting his inspiring and educational seminars that have been attended by over 35,000 people. 

To learn more about Ben visit