The temptation to eat sweets is the most difficult thing to navigate in the journey of staying fit and healthy. Occasional indulgence in social gatherings is deemed okay as far as optimal health is concerned but imagine you are having three cups of coffee and every time you add sugar in it. You have it every single day for thirty days without knowing that you are adding 90 teaspoons of sugar to your usual food regime. Plus, if you have sweet tooth, we can add 20 spoons of sugar to it. Too much sweet is it not? We don’t say do not eat sweets, we say eat it in such a way that it does not hurt the body. Is that even possible? Well, yes, it is. You can use natural sweeteners in the place of sugars and voila! Monk fruit sweetener is one such sweetener that we will be knowing about in this article.
What is a Monk Fruit Sweetener?
Monk fruit is a melon like fruit that is native to Southern China, it is called as Lo Han Guo, a small melon named after the Chinese monks who cultivated the fruit ages ago on the misty mountains of Guilin for its sweetness and healing capacity. It is also found in Northern Thailand. Mogroside, the extract of the fruit is the main reason why this fruit is cultivated. This extract creates sweetness that is 250 times more than sucrose. Mogroside extract is a low-calorie sweetener following the tradition of its usage in Chinese Medicine for centuries as cold and digestive aid.
It is named as Siraitia Grosvenorii after the president of National Geographic Society, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor helped to gather funds for national expedition to find the plant in Native land in China where it was being cultivated. ( Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siraitia_grosvenorii)
How does monk fruit look like and can it be used fresh?
Monk fruit looks round and greenish fruit that has brittle shell with hairy covering.
It is not possible to use fresh monk fruit as it is difficult to store and transport it without fermenting. It is usually dried till gets dark brown. It is brewed into a tea to treat cough and cold symptoms. It is very effective in curing sore throat in the “Traditional Chinese Medicine”
Due to its healing properties, it is known as the “Longevity Fruit” worldwide.
Is Monk Fruit an artificial sweetener?
Monk fruit is deemed as a natural sweetener as it is made from the extract that is derived from the fruit. Having said that it may be added with dextrose to balance the sweetness.
Is Monkfruit Safe as a sweetener?
Monk fruit sweetener is classified as Generally Recognized As Safe ( GRAS) by the U.S Food and Drug Administration ( FDA).
Is Monk Fruit Good For You?
Natural Sweeteners are the go-to inclusions in our food as they do not have underlying concerns of artificial ingredients. Monk fruit is 250 times sweeter than any other sweetener available and also has some healing properties.
Does Monk Fruit Sweetener Raise Insulin?
The natural compound Mogrosides gives all its sweetness to the Monk Fruit that does not increase blood sugar levels after consumption. It is said to be safe for diabetic people. But one must be very cautious over here. You may get drinks that have added sugar apart from Monk Fruit Sweetener. So, keep an eye on what goes in your beverages.
Is Monk Fruit Sweetener Good for Weight loss?
The monk fruit extract is calorie free, carb free, sodium free and it is by fast the most popular sweetener alternative for the companies who are into low carb low calorie products. Though weight loss is all about energy balance equation, consuming less sugar than usual is always a welcome change. That may also reduce the overall calorie intake creating a calorie deficit. The calorie deficit may promote weight loss. So, there may or may not be the direct correlation of consuming Monk Fruit Sweetener on weight loss.
Does Monk Fruit Have Anti Inflammatory Property?
Monk fruit at first was regarded in The Chinese Medicine practices and hence the Chinese monks cultivated it in Southern China. As per a study conducted in 2011, it is said that the monk fruit extract is used to make hot drinks in Chinese medicine which alleviated the symptoms of sore throat and phlegm. The mogrosides that are available in the extract are anti-inflammatory. They also help keeping the blood sugar level balanced.
It is also said that Mogrosides reduce oxidative stress which prevents many diseases including cancer. A 2013 study points to the potential of Monk Fruit in reducing oxidative stress.
What are the side effects of the monk fruit sweeteners?
Let us first understand that if offered in pure form Monk fruit sweeteners are natural but when they are manufactured in a commercial facility there might be some additives such as Erythritol, sugar alcohol, dextrose and so on. These additives are artificial for sure. As such the pure form of Monk Fruit Sweetener may not cause any digestive issue or problems to the gut, these additives are known to cause these symptoms after prolonged usage.
Is it safe to use Monk Fruit Sweetener on everyday basis?
The answer is, well, there has not been any substantial research conducted on the regular consumption of Monk Fruit Sweetener yet, so it is difficult to deduce that it is safe or unsafe to consume monk fruit sweetener every day. The labels on the Monk Fruit sweetener need to be studied before buying it from the store to avoid addition of any additive or bulking agent as mentioned above.
Does Monkfruit Sweetener Cause Digestive Issues?
Monk fruit extract per se may not cause digestive issues. Sometimes the additives that are used in the processing of Monk Fruit extract may result in digestive issues.
Monk Fruit Sweetener or Stevia which one is better?
Those who want to opt for low calorie sweetener can use both but here is a simple comparison between the two.
The monk fruit sweetener is hard to find in stores as against stevia that is widely available now.
There are no clear studies mentioning about the digestive issues caused by the monk fruit sweetener yet. But stevia has a little patchy history when it comes to the digestive issues caused specially nausea, vomiting and gas.
Stevia has a bitter after taste which may fade after you get used to it.
Monk fruit sweetener also has an aftertaste that is difficult to get accustomed to.
Both the sweeteners are costlier than sugar.
Using an artificial sweetener regularly is not recommended. It is always better to
reduce overall sugar intake in your diet. Here is how you can go no sugar.
All through my childhood, I was an obese girl. Sparing some comments here and there, nobody actually
told me that being obese is a thing and I should be playing more or working out to just keep it as is or to
reduce. Portion control was nowhere in the dictionary of my folks and me but I was clearly not overeating 🙂
I am not a foodie but my relationship with food is very emotional. If I am very happy, I want to have good
food without any portion control because nobody had taught me how to portion my food.
When I am low or meh, I want to have food again without any portion control because that turns me off.
I can either be eating until my stomach is full or nothing at all. So, the journey started with being obese to
normal in a cycle. I could refrain from food totally or totally give in to feel good. Now, my relationship with
food is ok if not great and I am happy with it.
What helped me understand my relationship with food?
When you sit and reflect on any of your habits, it becomes easy to sort it out. If you want to understand
your relationship with food, just sit down, relax, and write down, what makes you feel better?
What prompts you to overeat?
Here are 10 questions that you can answer and find out what actually makes you overeat.
Are you eating in front of the TV or a mobile?
Distraction is a major cause of overeating. In Indian tradition, dinner time is usually family time. We would sit down and have our food with all the family members. We are not mindful while eating in front of the TV and may end up eating more.
Are you stressed?
Some people eat more when they are stressed. Identify your triggers for stress. They can be
- Life-Changing Events
- Lack of sleep
- Workplace issues
- Home chores ( For stay at home mom, or work from home moms)
- Company of negative people
- Sabotaging environment
Just take a diary and write down whenever you have time, what is your trigger to stress and how are you
dealing with it. Being stressed is common but how are you dealing with it is important.
Are you bored?
Have you ever seen babies asking for food when they are not hungry? or just because they are bored? We
get bored and we just feel like eating something. Anything which is eaten out of your hunger cues is
overeating because our body simply does not need it. The best way to deal with “Bored and want to eat”
is to engage yourself in an activity you like to do. Whenever you feel bored, just make sure you walk 10
steps and increase it to 100 steps over time. If you still feel hungry you are really hungry and you need to
How are you eating?
I have a bad habit of eating when I am standing and in the kitchen. So anything that happens during the
morning, any stressful call, or anything which disturbs me prompts me to eat something which is
available at the counter. Believe me, this realization was tough and it took me years to accept it.
Can eating be a ritual?
Things that we do ritualistically become a habit. Here is how you can make eating a ritual
Sit in a proper posture on a dining table preferably cross-legged.
Make sure you do not have any gadget in your hand while eating
Take food on your plate and chew it slowly till you feel satiated
After you finish eating, make sure you clear your plate and wash it.
Please observe this ritual even for a snack. If you want to eat on the go, make sure you take some time
out to eat in your busy schedule.
Every day overeating may lead to weight gain. The above points will definitely help you get through it.
Are you planning to go gluten free to lose weight before holidays? If you are, then this article will be helpful for sure.
Let us first understand what is gluten?
Gluten is a glu like substance which is present in grains which makes the dough sticky. It is a family of proteins glutenin and gliadin. Surprisingly, Gliadin is the protein which is bad for health. Making a dough of grains is possible due to this glue like susbstance which creates a net and binds the flour together.
What is gluten free diet?
Gluten free diet involves avoiding grains which has gluten. Here is a list of grains:
These grain flour become sticky when they are mixed with water. Some people are allergic to gluten so, they prefer avoiding the above grains.
Who should avoid gluten?
People generally tolerate gluten without any sensitivity. But people diagnosed with Celiac disease have severe allergy to gluten. Symptoms of celiac disease are as following:
- Chronic Diarrhea
- Unexplained weight loss
- Weak bones
- Joint pain
- Stomach and muscle pain
- Joint Pain
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease triggers overreaction to the protein available in glutenous food and starts damaging the lining ( villi) along the wall of small intestine. When these villi are injured, the body cannot absorb appropriate nutrients from food and leads to the above symptoms.
People suffering with the following also tend to avoid gluten.
Non celiac gluten allergy:
Despite testing negative for gluten allergy some people do show allergic symptoms to gluten, those people should not consume glutenous food/products.
Irritable Bowel Syndrome:
Having experienced IBS myself, I can say that it is very difficult to zero down on one thing which irritates the stomach causing pain, diarrhea or constipation.
People who are suffering IBS can get benefitted with gluten free diet.
To follow a gluten free diet, you need to totally avoid food and grain containing gluten. It is always better to have only whole food like vegetables, fruits and other non glutenous grains.
Here is a list of gluten free grains:
- Cassava flour
- Water chestnut and water chestnut flour
What are the disadvantages of gluten free diet?
As per NCBI, here are some of the disadvantages of following a gluten free diet.
Deficiencies of Micronutrient and fibre
Naturally, when you avoid certain food group, you tend to be deficient in micronutrients. You might be having fibre deficit too.
Financial cost of gluten free diet:
Due to the popularity of the diet, the food market is full of gluten free diet and needless to say that the cost of all gluten free products is double the normal food.
Increase in fat content of food:
A 2013 nutrition survey performed in support of a thesis included 58 healthy adults on a GFD and showed that men on a GFD consumed significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, niacin, folate, and calcium, but significantly higher amounts of fat and sodium, than men on a GCD.69 Women on a GFD consumed significantly lower amounts of carbohydrates, fiber, folate, iron, and calcium, but significantly more fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol, than women on a GCD. Overall, adults adhering to a GFD did not consume enough nutrient-dense foods to meet all nutritional recommendations. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5866307/)
In short, while following any diet or any fad, it is always better to thoroughly check the pros and cons of the same. Following a diet blindly without being in touch with the requirements of the body would not work in the long term. Though some people have experienced weight loss on gluten free diet, unless absolutely necessary and prescribed by the doctor, gluten free diet is not recommended.