Why you should avoid artificial sweeteners during pregnancy
Artificial sweeteners are everywhere these days. They’re in drinks, packaged food, sauces, desserts, the list goes on. Unfortunately artificial sweeteners wreak havoc on our bodies, and are definitely not good for a growing and developing fetus. Artificial sweeteners have been linked to cancer, so with knowing that, then why would we ever want that going into a fetus’ body?
While pregnant and breastfeeding it’s so important to choose natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar (but even still use those sparingly). This article from Baptist Health goes into detail about why we should stop using sugar substitutes.
What are artificial sweeteners and what negative effects do they have?:
Artificial sweeteners are synthetic sugar substitutes and are linked to cancer. If I hear that something is linked to cancer then why would I ever want to put that in my body – and even more importantly into a fetus’ body?! Sugar alcohols can cause bloating, intestinal gas and diarrhea. You’re already uncomfortable enough when pregnant, so why consume something that may make you even more uncomfortable?
According to Baptist Health, “It is generally a good idea to monitor and reduce the amount of artificial sweeteners in the diet because these sugar substitutes can cause more cravings for unhealthy sweet foods. Moreover, previous and ongoing studies have suggested links between regular consumption of artificial sweeteners to weight gain, metabolic disorders, type-2 diabetes, alteration of gut bacteria and even a higher risk of stroke and dementia.”
Artificial sugars have many different names. These are the main ones to look out for:
Watch out for ‘no added sugars’ on labels:
This term is so misleading it drives me crazy. When a company claims that there are ‘no added sugars’ in their products, 9 times out of 10 they’re using artificial sweeteners instead of sugar, which is actually worse for you. This is why it’s SO important to read labels and ingredients so carefully. You really need to be your own advocate for your health.
Stick to these natural sweeteners:
Honestly, I don’t see a need for sweetening anything besides baked goods. The less sugar you consume the better off you are. Sugar doesn’t have any health benefit and only spikes our blood sugar. I avoid it as much as possible. I don’t see a need to sweeten my tea or coffee. If I do want something in my tea I use a TINY bit of honey. I agree that baked goods typically need to be sweetened so my top 3 choices of natural sweeteners to use are:
- maple syrup
- coconut sugar
When looking for products that are usually always sweetened (cereal, granola, etc) try to stick to brands that only use natural sweeteners like the three listed above. I love Purely Elizabeth and Lovebird Foods for granola and cereal that is naturally sweetened. Both of these companies are mindful to use even minimal amounts of natural sweeteners.