In the past I have written extensively about the fact that the carbohydrates we eat turn into sugar in your body, but haven’t really written about the “S” Word: Sugar. I go around thinking everyone knows sugar is bad for you. My Mother tried to tell me the other day people don’t know this. I thought she was crazy! How could people not know sugar is bad for you? Well she was right. Apparently, it is such new news, there was recently a 60 Minutes segment on the topic. Always listen to your mother unless she is feeding you sugar. Or High Fructose Corn Syrup. Or Chemical Sugar Substitutes. Or Agave Nectar. Read On….
Ok, so you have 3 main types of sugar you have probably heard of:
Glucose: made when your body breaks down starches.
Fructose: the sugar found naturally in fruits and also widely used in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.
Sucrose: table sugar.
I’m going to cover sugar, fructose and some of the favorite substitutes.
Ok there are 141 Reasons Why Sugar Is Runining Your Health, so I rarely eat it. (Notice 141 Reasons Why Sugar Is Ruining Your Health is highlighted? That means you are supposed to click on it and read the reasons!)
But, I would eat sugar before I would consume high fructose corn syrup or any other form of concentrated fructose, regardless of what that ridiculous commercial says about it being the same as sugar. It’s not the same as sugar. Much of it contains mercury and the only place your body can process it is the liver. The liver has enough problems in this day and age without having to deal with high fructose corn syrup.
The problem with fructose is that when you consume large amounts of it in its concentrated form (agave, crystalline fructose, high-fructose corn syrup), it goes straight to your liver, avoiding the gastrointestinal tract altogether. This places a heavy toxic load on your liver, which must work very hard to process it, sometimes resulting in scarring. Non- alcoholic fatty liver disease anyone? It also raises your triglycerides, increases weight, makes blood cells more prone to clotting, and it may also accelerate the aging process. Fructose creates inflammation in the body. If you have any sort of arthritis or joint pain, I would completely avoid fructose, because it’s going to make your pain much, much worse.
AGAVE NECTAR – Notice in the paragraph above I mention that Agave Nectar is fructose? Well it is- up to 97% fructose! This “healthy alternative to sugar” has been a huge marketing ploy. It is not healthier for you! For a second, I fell for the marketing myself. My husband calls it High Fructose Cactus Syrup. I agree.
Let’s see what Dr. Mark Hyman has to say –
“Here are 5 reasons you should stay way from any product containing high fructose corn syrup and why it may kill you.
1. Sugar in any form causes obesity and disease when consumed in pharmacologic doses.
2. HFCS and cane sugar are NOT biochemically identical or processed the same way by the body.
3. HFCS contains contaminants including HYPERLINK “http://drhyman.com/blog/conditions/how-to-rid-your-body-of-mercury-and-other-heavy-metals-a-3-step-plan-to-recover-your-health/”mercury that are not regulated or measured by the FDA.
4. Independent medical and nutrition experts DO NOT support the use of HFCS in our diet, despite the assertions of the corn industry.
5. HFCS is almost always a marker of poor-quality, nutrient-poor disease creating industrial food products or “food-like substances”.”
Let’s move on to the favorite sugar substitutes found in the local coffee house:
Aspartame or NutraSweet – NO, NO, A THOUSAND TIMES NO! This ingredient is the most reported complained-about ingredient to the FDA. It is linked with heart attack, stroke, tinnitus, headaches, nervous system disorders, migraines and cancer. Also, it’s a cause of depression. If you are depressed – quit drinking this stuff!
Sucralose – better known by its brand name, Splenda, may start with sugar, the end product is anything but natural. It’s processed using chlorine, and researchers are finding that the artificial sweetener is passing through our bodies and winding up in wastewater treatment plants, where it can’t be broken down. Nice.
Saccharin or Sweet and Low, is a sulfa-based sweetener; its primary ingredient is benzoic sulfimide. For those with sulfa allergies, saccharin may cause nausea, diarrhea, skin problems or other allergy-related symptoms. Early safety studies of saccharin showed the sweetener caused bladder cancer in rats. The link between saccharin and bladder cancer has contributed to saccharin being the most investigated of all artificial sweeteners. The FDA recently lifted the requirement that saccharin be labeled as a probable carcinogen on food packaging. But, it increases insulin levels, so a lot of good that does!
Ok, lets define a few more of the sugars out there:
Maple syrup - Maple syrup is made from the sap of sugar maple trees. Less refined than white sugar, but at roughly 65 percent sucrose, is basically a sugar equivalent. It has a tiny amount of minerals and a very tiny amount of vitamins.
Molasses – Strangely enough, molasses is a by-product of sugar cane or beet sugar refining. It is high in B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chromium, manganese and zinc. The blackstrap variety is less refined and higher in nutrients. Buy unsulphured molasses, as sulphur can be toxic in high doses. It also has a lower glycemic level than sugar.
I’m not sure when one would use molasses except on oatmeal, which I’m not a big fan of. I think some people like to use it in breads. It’s an old home remedy, which makes sense because of all the nutrients it contains.
What will I eat in my protein bars?
Organic Brown Rice Syrup - Organic Brown rice syrup is made from cooked organic brown rice, which is fermented by adding enzymes to turn the starches in the rice into sugars. Brown rice syrup is absorbed easily into our system, leaving less for fat accumulation in contrast with regular sugar. It is a complex sugar thus it takes longer to digest and does not create the sugar high that the simple sugars do.
Barley Malt Syrup -Barley malt syrup is made from barley that is sprouted using only the grain’s own enzymes, kiln roasted, and slowly cooked until a thick, dark brown syrup is formed. The sugars in barley malt syrup are complex, thus they are slowly broken down in the body. It has trace amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein. Barley malt syrup, like rice syrup, will not create a sugar high like the simple sugars do as it releases slowly.
So what are my favorites to use around the house?
Sugar alcohols - Sugar alcohols (Erythritol, Isomalt, Lactitol, Maltitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol) are neither sugars nor alcohols. They do have calories if you still count calories, and they can cause gastrointestinal side effects (bloating and diarrhea) when consumed in excess. Also, they are not whole foods so caution must be used; the recommendation is to not use them on a regular basis. I bake with a combination of Xylitol and Stevia. Xylitol is what you want to have in your sugar free mints and gum. It’s actually good for your teeth.
“Stevia is a natural sugar alternative that helps to regulate blood sugar and lower blood pressure. Stevia is a complex sugar extract from the plant Stevia Rebaudiana, grown originally in South America. It is an herb native to the Paraguayan Indians who used it before the colonization by the Spaniards in the 16th century. The Brazilian Journal of Medicine showed that Stevia Rebaudiana actually “increased glucose tolerance.”
Because stevia is very sweet, you only need to use a small amount and the best thing is that it virtually has no calories. Just think about it……a plant sweetening your food with virtually no calories…….how good is that?!!”
I really understand how addictive sugar can be. It’s not enough to tell people to stop – if they could, they would! Numerous people see me specifically for their sugar addiction, or for problems related to their sugar addiction. I have a few different supplements that helps make their lifestyle transition away from sugar pretty painless and as a result, their health improves immensely.
These recommendations are for the reduction of stress only. They are not intended as treatment or prescription for any disease, or as a substitute for regular medical care.