Is It Paleo? Fructose and Fructose-Based Sweeteners (I'm looking at you, Agave!) ~ The Paleo Mom

The Paleo Mom The Paleo Mom Wed, 01/11/2017 - 06:27
Regulating blood sugar levels is a key feature of the Paleo diet. In fact, this may be the critical mechanism responsible for the observed benefits of a Paleo diet in managing diabetes that has been proven in clinical trials. Generally, blood sugar levels are well regulated as soon as we focus on eating a variety of meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.

But, it’s human nature to find ways around the rules. A huge variety of recipes for Paleo-friendly, grain-free, dairy-free baked goods have found their way onto blogs (mine is no exception) and cookbooks (again, mine too). And a huge variety of pre-made, packaged sweet treat products are now available for sale, making getting a treat even easier. I really do believe that there is a place in our diet and our lives for the occasional treat, but that doesn’t mean that anything goes. And even if a treat is occasional, the ingredients matter.

Some ingredients (like emulsifiers) are uniformly recognized as being unhealthy choices. For others (like almond flour), there’s some pros and cons to consider in determining whether they are a good choice for you as an individual. And yet other ingredients are very unhealthy choices but are erroneously promoted as healthy alternatives to sugar! These ingredients are finding their way into recipes and packaged treats marketed to the Paleo community–and that is the reason for this post. There’s a concept that if a Paleo treat is made with a sugar alternative, and is thus “low-carb” or “low glycemic index”, that that makes it a good choice for a more frequent indulgence. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Any food that causes elevated blood glucose is not conducive to health. The detrimental health impact of high blood glucose levels and high blood insulin levels are detailed in The Paleo Approach. Because of the direct link to diabetes and obesity, this is also becoming public knowledge.

Because excessive glucose consumption is so problematic, there has been a surge in low glycemic- index sweeteners, heavily marketed to diabetics and those on low-carb diets, which fall into three categories:

1. Sugars that do not impact blood-glucose levels as quickly or substantially as glucose or glucose- based starches, which are marketed as low-glycemic-index sugars (fructose, inulin)
2. Sugar alcohols (sorbitol, xylitol, erythritol)
3. Nonnutritive sweeteners, including acesulfame potassium, aspartame, neotame, saccharin, and sucralose, as well as the “natural” sugar substitute stevia

Our bodies are not designed to metabolize these sugars in the large quantities found in processed foods. Yes, even foods and tabletop sweeteners that are marketed as “natural sweeteners” (such as agave nectar and stevia) are not actually natural for our bodies. In most cases, consuming these glucose substitutes is more harmful than consuming glucose itself. But let’s focus on the detrimental health effects of excess fructose first:

Is It Paleo? Fructose and Fructose-Based Sweeteners (I'm looking at you, Agave!) ~ The Paleo Mom
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