One of the most common myths about sweeteners can be summed up in a single word: “natural.”
Some sugar alternatives, such as aspartame and other non-caloric sweeteners, contain synthetic substances. It’s completely fair to call them “artificial.”
Others, like beet sugar and high fructose corn syrup, are merely refined from a naturally grown crop.
Defining “natural” is always a slippery nutrition task. Natural does not necessarily equal “healthy,” just as artificial doesn’t automatically translate into the opposite. Sound, reliable nutrition advice, especially when it comes to sweeteners and other complex products, requires a serious look beneath the surface of our diets.
Unfortunately, not everyone puts a high value on scientific standards. Entire schools of pseudo-science and “alternative” medicine are built on the abstract principle that “natural” (however they define it) is the only path to health. For a variety of reasons, the mythmakers in these schools of thought have targeted a handful of sweeteners and spent years cultivating public misconceptions and urban myths about them.
Named after Dr. Weston A. Price, a dentist who studied the oral hygiene of pre-industrial and tribal populations in the early 1900s, the Weston A. Price Foundation advocates a host of unproven, counterintuitive, and at times questionable dietary practices. Chief among those is the unfounded fight against high fructose corn syrup.
Next: Joseph Mercola »
Joseph Mercola is an osteopathic practitioner who writes a controversial health newsletter focused on alternative medicine. He’s also an anti-sugar and anti-sweetener crusader, and a board member of the Weston A. Price Foundation advocacy group.
Next: Naturopathy Movement »
Naturopathy refers to a doctrine of “natural medicine” that teaches that the body’s “vital force” is the most important factor in healing and maintaining health. The approach has been criticized as largely pseudo-scientific, relying on dogma rather than data.