First off, I am NOT going to ask you to give up eating sweet tasting food. We are all born to enjoy sweet taste. Sweet taste gives us comfort and pleasure. Our brain needs glucose more than anything else to function. The first taste for a baby is the sweet taste of a mother’s milk. How can “sweet” taste be bad for you?
Sugar, a simple carbohydrate, describes substances with varying degrees of sweetness. Best known is white table sugar, or sucrose. This is usually the refined sugar of the cane or beet plant. Starch, another form of carbohydrate, is a chain of glucose molecules, and is known as a complex carbohydrate. Both sugars and starches are found in natural foods such as grains, beans, vegetables and fruit. When unprocessed, they are linked together with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, proteins and fibre. When, for example, brown rice or a whole cereal grain is cooked, ingested and digested, the natural carbohydrates break down into the separate glucose molecules. These enter the bloodstream where they are burned slowly and steadily. A distinction needs to be made between natural sweet tasting foods that naturally contain sugar and processed foods that contain refined sugar. The two should not be confused.
Why Refined Sugar Depletes You and Gets You Hooked?
But table sugar requires extra effort to utilise by the body because it lacks vitamins, minerals and fibre, so our body depletes its own store of minerals and enzymes to assimilate it properly. For this reason, refined sugar is described as empty calories. Instead of providing the body with nutrition, the result is a deficiency. This is why the more refined sugar we consumed, the “hungrier” at the cellular level we are. Have you noticed that soda water does not really quench your thirst? You want more and more of it, unlike drinking young coconut water, which actually quenches your thirst and gives you real energy. It’s because soda water is sugar water and does not contain minerals and enzymes that feed the cells. This is precisely what food manufacturers want – consumers wanting more of their products leading to repeat business.
How did sugar become “bad”?
Sugar was first being refined in the 17th century. It’s estimated that we consume about 10 times or more sugar than our ancestors 200 years ago. Sugar qualifies as an addictive substance for two reasons: 1) Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more; 2) suddenly quitting it causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue. Sugar is really not much different from other addictive substances like heroin and cocaine, except that, like caffeine and alcohol (other stimulating and addictive substances), it’s legal.
The Many Faces of Sugar
Today we find sugar not only where we’ve come to expect it – in candies, cakes, cookies and desserts – but also in such foods as canned vegetables, baby food, bread, tomato sauce, milk, and salad dressings. In some cases it is called corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, glucose or fructose. Even in “health foods” like energy bars, “healthy” chocolates, rice milk and so on, one can find refined sugar.
What Can Sugar Do To You (and Your Children)?
• Weight gain • Upsets gut flora (feeds the bad bacteria) • Suppresses immunity • Damages liver • Hyperactivity • Loss of concentration • Causes food cravings • Depression • Diabetes • Anxiety and restlessness • Diabetes • Creates environment for cancer
Are “Brown Sugar” or “Evaporated Cane Juice” better?
Raw, brown or turbinado sugar, at 96% sucrose is hardly better than white sugar, which is 99.9% sucrose. Nowadays, we are inundated with products made with organic evaporated cane juice, sucanat, florida crystals, fructose, all a refinement in the art of seducing “health conscious” consumers to maintain their habit.
What about Artificial Sweeteners?
“Diet sugar”, or aspartame (known as Equal and some other names) is WORST than table sugar. It is NOT a healthier alternative to sugar. Aspartame is neuro-toxic and carcinogenic (cancer causing). It excites the brain and confuses it to want more sugar. It is even more addictive than refined sugar and more damaging to our blood sugar mechanism. Aspartame is prevalent in chewing gum, diet soda and many other “health foods” now. Other names have also been invented to disguise it and confuse consumers.
Naturally sweet foods in nature
Whole grains, root vegetables like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, yam etc. When you include these in your diet your need for “fake sugar” will naturally go down.
Natural wholefood sweeteners
You can use dates, figs, Lo-han fruit, other dried fruits (like apricot), or raw honey which are much more “recognisable” by the body than refined sugar.
Wholefood derived low GI (glycemic index) sweeteners:
Stevia being GI zero is also a popular choice.
What is Glycemic Index (G.I.)
It refers to a measure of how quickly blood sugar levels (i.e. levels of glucose in the blood) rise after eating a particular type of food, relative to consumption of pure glucose. The G.I. index scale ranges from 0 -100. Glucose has a glycemic index of 100.
The effects that different foods have on blood sugar levels vary considerably. Generally foods that have a GI below 55 is considered diabetic-safe.
How to kick the addiction to sugar and other stimulants?
There is no need to give up the enjoyment of sweet foods. When you satisfy your need for “sweetness” with natural sweet foods and wholefoods, and as your gut health improves, you will more than likely and naturally desire healthier choices, and find refined sugar unappealing.
This is why a nutritional detox which effectively cleans your gut and restricts the consumption of refined sugar while managing your blood sugar well can help to restore your body’s innate intelligence.