A few questions have been trickling in lately on sugar substitution, what to use and more specifically HOW to substitute with the right amounts.  So I’m going to break a bunch of this down for you.  This is Post #1 on Sweeteners: Sweeteners I DO NOT Recommend & Why.

The overall WHY factor is simple.  The basic principle to follow is to eat Foods by God and not Foods by Man.  Artificial sweeteners are 100% Foods by Man and will toxify your body.  Did you know that common white and brown sugars are chemically altered by Man to be made in the cheapest possible form so Man can make more money?  These chemically created man made sweeteners not only toxify the body, but damage the cells and cell membranes leading to increased inflammation throughout the body.  Research has proven that inflammation is the precursor to every disease of the body, including heart disease and cancer.

When sugar travels thru your bloodstream it’s like glass shards.  It tears away from the arterial walls as it passes thru.  Imagine those little glass shards causing little nix and scratches as your body tries to break them down and pass them thru.  Just like when you get a cut on your skin, the inside of your body becomes inflamed as it tries to heal from the sugar shards passing thru.  This is what leads to not only local inflammation, but inflammation across the entire body (your gut, heart, nervous system, and even your brain have to work harder).  This all leads to an increased risk of developing early disease, so save your body the extra work and risk of abnormal cell development and just cut out the sugar.

Sweeteners I DO NOT Recommend & Why:

Sugar (white, brown, powdered, whatever)

The primary reason that I don’t use white or brown sugar  is because they are highly processed, at very high temperatures and with the use of chemicals, that render them absolutely useless for nutrition of any kind.  While sugar might taste really good on your tongue, it wrecks havoc internally.  Check out this simple list of 124 Reasons Sugar is Bad. Sugar not only doesn’t offer any nutrients, but it also skyrockets blood sugar [which then drops significantly after, leaving you with a greater desire for sweets and carbs, and ultimately creates a vicious cycle of unstable blood sugar levels], temporarily stuns the immune system so that it is not effective in fighting illness, uses our body’s precious nutrients and energy to digest and deal with the sugar (such as Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, Potassium, Magnesium, Manganese, Chromium, Zinc and possibly others) and gives no new nutrients in return.

I don’t think I need to beat too hard on sugar, so I’ll leave it at this.  We all know it’s bad for us.  Here’s an article from Mike Adams the Health Ranger on some effects of sugar.

On a side note, did you know that unless brown sugar is specifically labeled as “raw,” it is nothing more than white sugar with a bit of molasses added back in for color?  So even if you think you’re buying a healthier sugar by going brown, it’s actually just the chemically processed white stuff with even more processed sugar molasses included.  Sad! 

Agave Nectar

Mercola.com recently posted an article on Agave.  I’ve also been reading a lot of other blogs and research articles about it (my friend Allison Goofy Mama posted this one, it’s great!).  The more I learn about agave, the less enthused I am about the product.  I’ve completely stopped using it myself, not that we used it much before, and no longer recommend anyone use it.  Agave nectar is not raw, not natural, and not good for us.  It’s sad that those words can even appear on the label, which misleads us.  I recommend reading the entire Food Renegade article, but what made it a clear decision for me was this excerpt:

According to one popular agave nectar manufacturer, “Agave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed in the 1990s.”   In a recent article now posted on the Weston A. Price foundation’s website, Ramiel Nagel and Sally Fallon Morell write,

Agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb.  The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules. Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave. The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS.  The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.

Compare that to the typical fructose content of high fructose corn syrup (55%)!  If we’re working so hard to cut out the HFCS crap from our body, why should we put in something that is worse for us and still causes disease??  So on Agave, you now know my opinion and I’ve done research for myself.  If you are still confused, go out and research for yourself and make an educated decision.

Splenda, Sweet-n-Low, Equal or any other Dextrose / Aspartame / Sucralose-Based Substitute

If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend checking out Sweet Deception by Dr. Mercola.  I’m astonished that aspartame is even allowed on the market!  Here is just a bit of research on the Splenda/Sucralose subject.  This article calls the introduction of Splenda to the market as “the public experiment” — SO TRUE!  The FDA has no definition for “natural”, and this article breaks down how Splenda was termed as “natural” so the FDA approved it.   Did you know that Splenda was “discovered” accidentally in a lab while trying to create a new insecticide??  One of the main components of Splenda is Chlorine.  Chlorine!?!

Here are 14 Reasons to stay away from aspartame and more info from Mercola on Artificial Sweeteners.  And if these few articles weren’t enough to convince you, did you know Sweet N Low is banned in Canada (since 1977)?  Why hasn’t America gotten the message?  Also, check your brand of stevia at home for a “secret ingredient” called Dextrose.  This is a Man Made “sugar” that is merely chemicals.  Throw it out and always look for a pure stevia: the only ingredient should be stevia!

Other Liquid Sweeteners
Amasake, Barley Malt, Brown Rice Syrup, Concentrated Fruit Sweetener, Corn Syrup, Date Sugar, Fructose, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Fruit Juice Sweeteners, Glucose, Honey, Maple Syrup, Sucanet

This is a list of all the other refined sweeteners I could think of.  There are probably more.  All of these, as well as cane sugar, present the same problems: high glycemic index & high glycemic load (both measures of the relative impact foods have on your blood sugar).  When blood sugar rises quickly, it triggers the release of the hormone insulin.  Excessive release of insulin and chronically high blood sugar levels are linked to Metabolic Syndrome, which is a complex of health disorders.  Associated ailments include insulin resistance and type II diabetes, abdominal weight gain, obesity, problems with blood lipids (raised triglycerides/cholesterol) and high blood pressure.  On your Maximized Living Nutrition Plan, you want to avoid these forms of sugar to avoid spiking your blood sugar.  In time, stable blood sugar allows your cells (and disease) to heal.

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Written by Elise Schwartz
Elise Schwartz

Elise has been living a sugar-free natural lifestyle since 2008, after discovering her PCOS, infertility, and inability to lose weight were caused by toxicity in her food and daily life. She became a certified nutrition and body detox coach, and provides consultations to clients across the world. By living the principles she teaches, Elise proudly welcomed her son, Austin, into the world in 2011. She and her husband, Dr. Dave, own and operate a natural health clinic, Triad Health Center, in Greensboro, NC.


  1. Hi,
    There has been a lot of misinformation about agave on the web these days. I’m sorry to say, the quote you mention in your post is one of them. Agave is not a starch processed from the bulb of the agave plant. There is actually sap inside the plant, and if you harvest an agave plant and cut a hole in the bulb, you will see liquid inside. Mexicans used to harvest the agave with a straw and suck it out.

  2. Hi tamadhur! You’re right, and from what I’ve learned, the Agave found in grocery stores and what is mass-sold today is not the sap taken from the traditional Miel De Agave plant but from its root. What is found in the root is a sap which is completely carbohydrates (inulin) and is purely fructose. On the Maximized Living Nutrition Plan (either Core or Advanced) we want to stay away from fructose and these types of carbohydrates as they will cause inflammation and disease. Thanks for your comment!

  3. When something calls for brown sugar, what do you use instead that’s healthy? I’ve also heard of something from ‘The Maker’s Diet’ book called Rapandura or something like that… What of that?

  4. Instead of brown sugar, I use stevia or xylitol most often. If your recipe needs the gooey texture that brown sugar provides, honey is my option of choice, or fruit. I’ve never used Rapandura because it is high in sugar. You’re better off using raw honey for the added health benefits it offers past the sugar content.

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