Sugar Isn’t So Sweet for Your Body!
We all want to eat healthier these days, but at the same time it feels like we are getting busier an busier with very little time to think about meal preparation. The food manufacturers recognize this challenge and are coming out with many quick and so called ‘healthy’ snacks to make healthy eating easier for us. We are told that a ‘granola bar’ or ‘cereal’ is healthy because it is high in protein, has flax seeds and/or goji berries in it. But is it?
We think we are being healthy by eating yogurt and nut butters but if you read the labels, many manufacturers are adding sugar to even these ‘healthy’ products. For example, many brands of almond butter, a healthier choice than peanut butter, now has cane sugar added. Any many yogurts, especially the low fat varieties, are loaded with refined sugar. Sugar is added to improve the taste of the lower fat foods. If you jumped onto the low fat health craze of the 90’s and are still eating that way, you are probably eating more sugar!
So what’s the big deal?
If you have ever cut sugar out of your diet and then aded it back in, you have learned just how ‘drug like’ or addictive this food can be. Many of us rely on sugar to get us going in the morning and to sustain energy levels (and moods) throughout the day. (i.e. starting the day with coffee or cereal) However, what goes up, must come down. An hour or so after eating sugar, your blood sugar levels drop signalling you to eat more. So you grab a bagel or another coffee and then the cycle continues.
An increase in sugar triggers the pancreas to secrete more insulin into the blood to ‘escort’ the sugar into your cells and out of your blood. If we have too much sugar over time (and too much insulin is secreted) the pancreas can become stressed and may eventually give up secreting insulin, or even worse, your cells may become resistant to the insulin…this is refered to as pre-diabetes.
In addition to mood swings and pre-diabetes, according to reserach, more than 60 different ailments are linked to sugar consumption, including weight gain, pre-mature aging (no!). impaired immunity (after consuming sugar, your immune system is lowered for 3 hours), hypoglycemia, cardiovascular disease, and cancer.
Here are some more interesting facts on sugar:
The average person consumes 180 pounds of sugar a year (in the 1800’s it was 12 lbs a year) Yikes! Only about 29 pounds of it comes as traditional sugar (sucrose) according to The Sugar Association, a trade group of sugar manufacturers. The rest comes from the everyday foods we eat, like pasta sauce, cereal, peanut butter, yogurt, crackers, bread, salsa, etc.
Tips for getting the sugar out of our diet:
1. Read food labels. If you see sucrose, corn syrup, cane sugar, or anything ending in ‘ose’ and if they are one of the first 3 ingredients on the label, put it back on the shelf!
2. Reduce cravings by starting your day with a high protein breakfast and add more healthy fat into your diet. You can do this easily by adding a protein shake into your daily routine. Protein Packed Vegan Smoothie
3. Use ‘real’ foods to add sweetness to your recipe’s. Try sweet potato, squash, apple sauce and/or mashed banana. Try this Blood Sugar Balancing Banana bread.
4. Use low glycemic (no ups and downs) sweeteners like stevia, yacon or coconut nector/sugar. Or, use unrefined sugars in moderation. Try raw honey or blackstrap molasses or maple syrup. Try our Gooey Gluten Free Brownie recipe to see how easy and tasty it is to cut down on refined sugar!
Linda Ljucovic, Registered Holistic Nutritionist