The majority of nutritional supplements, sports bars, thirst quenchers and other foods masquerading as being healthy have been poisoned. Hyped as non caloric or low-fat ingredients, sweet additives are infiltrating our food supply and at the same time sabotaging our health. Few "health nuts" are aware of the toxic threat or the safe alternatives.

Have you ever been plagued by hard-to-diagnose health problems? You know something is wrong, but your doctor can't seem to figure out what's causing them? You ...

* can't lose weight, no matter how hard you try

* feel depressed

* can't sleep

* feel sluggish

* lack mental focus

* have lost your libido

Well, it's not all in your head. It's sweets. Today, the majority of sport supplements or foods are adulterated with some type of sweetener. The reasoning is simple; sweet flavors increase sales.

When consumed, sweets elicit a chemical cascade of events that lead to the triggering of feel-good receptors within our brain. If this happens repeatedly, an emotional bond between happiness and sweets is formed. You become addicted, which guarantees a buying habit. In a study comparing the addictive properties of sweeteners, sucrose (table sugar) and saccharin proved more addictive than cocaine! Leveraging this biochemical addiction, health food manufacturers are bankrolling. Your health is being sacrificed for sugar addiction.

Sucrose (a disaccharide of glucose and fructose), otherwise known as table sugar, is one of the most popular adulterants. Not as natural as people think, it's typically extracted from sugar cane and then purified by crystallization for use. Years ago, people didn't eat much - as little as 10-15 pounds per year. And their health was much better for it. Today, the average consumption of sucrose is a whopping 160 pounds! The irony is that your body doesn't actually need any sugar whatsoever. What it does need is glucose for energy. And you can obtain it safely from fruit and vegetables.

When consumed, sugar guarantees entrance into The Fat Cow Hall-of-Fame courtesy of its ability to spike our fat-storing hormone insulin and triglycerides. It also disrupts satiety (causing users to overeat), and gives rise to age-accelerating molecules known as AGE products (advanced glycation end products). These aging molecules are responsible for causing unsightly wrinkling and age-related blindness.

Over time, excess sugar consumption prevents our body from producing various anti-aging hormones such as IGF, hGH and testosterone. If consumption continues, it leads to a host of dreaded diseases like insulin resistance, heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer. Suicide in slow motion, sugar addiction can eliminate 11-20 years from a person's lifespan.

The realization that sugar kills has given rise to a dizzying array of artificial sweeteners. Designed to curb the sucrose threat, while allowing us to still get our "sweet fix," saccharin, aspartame and sucralose are among the most popular.

Studies on artificial sweeteners show that they lead to weight gain and even pre-diabetes. Scientists writing for Behavioral Neuroscience and The American Heart Association's journal Circulation, discovered that fake sugar molecules disarm our body's defense against obesity - calorie counting. The studies showed that "mouth feel" plays a crucial role in the body's ability to sense the number of calories that are being consumed - and that artificial sweeteners disrupt the natural calorie calculator. This puts users at much higher risk for being obese and insulin resistant due to subsequent binge eating that occurs from eating artificial sweeteners.

U.S. regulatory agencies insist that artificial flavors are safe - just like they insisted that "hypoglycemic drugs" for type II diabetics were safe. Yet, diabetic users increase their risk of heart attack by a ghastly 30-40% courtesy of these "safe" and "effective" medications. Could history be repeated with drugs moonlighting as artificial sweeteners?

Discovered to be 300 times sweeter than sugar, Saccharin (chemically known as 1,1-Dioxo-1,2-benzothiazol-3-one) was the first drug used as a sweetener. As early as 1911, a board of federal scientists warned against its use in food by insisting that it was, "an adulterant." The biggest fear was cancer. Early studies showed bladder cancer among mice. This was later proven not to translate into humans due to stark bladder differences. However, skin and lung cancer have begun to surface. Studies have not been able to confirm definitively if these threats translate into human risk. The US government's National Toxicology Program lists saccharin as an "anticipated carcinogen." Given its wild-card cancer status, saccharin is hardly a safe alternative to sugar. Yet, it remains a common food and supplement additive.

Discovered to be 180 times sweeter than sugar, the drug aspartame (aspartyl-phenylalanine-1-methyl ester) is found in thousands of foods and beverages. Initially touted as an anti-ulcer drug, it failed approval due its carcinogenic properties. With little fanfare and a scourge of conflicts of interest, the drug was later approved as an artificial sweetener.

Teaching organic chemistry, I taught my students how to identify aspartame's carcinogenic byproducts using a technique known as TLC (Thin Layer Chromatography). Extracting the ingredients from their favorite diet soda, the simple technique elucidated methanol, formaldehyde and aspartic acid. Today, a number of sport drinks carry the same carcinogenic and neurotoxic ingredients.

Discovered to be 600 times sweeter than sugar, the drug sucralose (1,6-Dichloro-1,6-dideoxy-β-D-fructofuranosyl-4-chloro-4-deoxy-α-D-galactopyranoside) originated as an insecticide. The molecule contains a historically deadly "organochlorine" or simply: a Really-Nasty Form of Chlorine (RNFOC). Unlike the harmless ionic bond in table salt, The RNFOC in sucralose is a covalent bond. When used, the RNFOC yields such poisons as insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides. A RNFOC can invade every nook and cranny of the body. Cell walls and DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) - the genetic map of human life - become potential casualties of war. This may result in weakened immune function, irregular heartbeat, agitation, shortness of breath, skin rashes, headaches, liver and kidney damage, birth defects, and cancer. Hiding its origin, sucralose pushers assert that it is "made from sugar." Sucralose is as close to sugar as glass cleaner is to purified water. France has recently banned such false advertising statements. The deceit has been ignored within the US; sucralose is the most widely used artificial sweetener today.

Natural alternatives to sugar and artificial sweeteners are hyped as being safe, simply because they fall under the umbrella of being natural. Don't be fooled. It isn't that simple. The sweet molecules maltitol and high fructose corn syrup are part of the scam.

Maltitol is 90% as sweet as sugar. It is chemically derived from maltose using a chemical reaction known as hydrolysis - so much for being "natural." And just like sugar, it raises insulin and blood sugar, thereby sabotaging your health.

High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) (90% fructose and 10% glucose mixture) is as sweet as sugar, but poses a much bigger threat. Just like maltitol, it's made in a lab via a multi-enzymatic process - so much for being natural. And the sweet imposter radically spikes insulin and blood sugar while halting the biological production of anti-aging and muscle building hormones. It gets worse. It also gives rise to deadly AGE products - big time - while causing users to overeat. The end result; wrinkles and fat come on like gangbusters.

Under the most rigid definition of safety, a safe sweetener must meet four criteria. First, it must not raise blood glucose or trigger the release of our fat storing hormone insulin. It must not give rise to deadly AGE products. Nor should it prevent our body from producing anti-aging and muscle building hormones. And finally, it must be non-toxic.

Stevia (300 times sweeter than sugar), the sugar alcohol erythritol (60 to 70% as sweet as sugar) and - to a bit lesser degree - agave (as sweet as sugar) fit the rigid criteria of being safe sweeteners. Each one can be used - by diabetics too - without sabotaging health.

My six-year-old can recite all the dangers of too much sugar and artificial flavors in a matter of two minutes. And because she still likes to get her "sweet fix," she can tell you which natural sweeteners are best to use in tea, cookies, and cake. Not bad, considering that the self-appointed custodians of our health - physicians - are totally clueless about the sweetener epidemic that is sabotaging us. If a first grader can learn to avoid sweet sabotage, you can too. Start by looking closer at what's being added to your favorite sport supplement or sport drink.

About the Author

Ellison's entire career has been dedicated to the study of molecules; how they give life and how they take from it. He was a two-time recipient of the prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Grant for his research in biochemistry and physiology. He is a bestselling author, holds a master's degree in organic chemistry and has first-hand experience in drug design. Use his knowledge and insight to look and feel your best in 90 days with his AM-PM Fat Loss Discovery.