UBCO experts share sweet advice about sugar and artificial sweeteners

Like so many other areas of life, Halloween festivities may look a little different this year in the midst of COVID-19. As health authorities ask people to take precautions and parents grapple with what is safe for their children, one thing remains constant: Kids love candy.

To help provide some relief, experts at UBC Okanagan are weighing in on what the best treats are and how to avoid being tricked by clever marketing.

Although sugar doesn’t cause diabetes, eat mindfully says Jonathan Little, associate professor in the Faculty of Health and Social Development’s School of Health and Exercise Sciences

“One of the biggest nutrition myths is that sugar causes diabetes. Sugar intake alone won’t do this; the major risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are age, genetics and obesity. You obviously can’t do much about the first two but your lifestyle can influence your weight status. Excess calories from any source, combined with physical inactivity, can promote weight gain, which in turn, increases the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.

Artificial sweeteners may be harmful to your good gut bacteria, says Deanna Gibson, an associate professor of biology in the Irving K. Barber Faculty of Science

“Artificial sweeteners are calorie-free synthetic sugar substitutes added to food and drinks to make them taste sweet. Although this seems like a good idea, there has been controversy around how healthy and safe these additives actually are. One of their side-effects is that they are toxic to the healthy bacteria in our guts, which are necessary for many bodily functions, including digestion and immunity. In fact, the consumption of these sweeteners has been associated with altering the gut bacteria, throwing off the immune and metabolic balance.

Read the full story here: UBC Okanagan News