Sugar - How Sweet it is!
We've all heard that white sugar is a refined product that's devoid of any nutrients, and how high-fructose corn syrup has led to an epidemic of obesity and poor health. So it's natural that we look for alternative sweeteners. Although honey, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar, fructose, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and fruit juice concentrates all sound like healthy alternatives for sweetening our food, our bodies can hardly tell the difference. Regardless of how "natural" they seem, all sweeteners are largely empty calories and have no nutritional value. Both refined and natural sweeteners are highly concentrated substances that are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream; raising blood sugar and insulin to dangerous levels. Additionally, high fructose sweeteners increase cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A study published in 2014 showed that most Americans are getting more than 10% of their calories from sugar. The researchers found that "most US adults consume more added sugar than is recommended for a healthy diet. A higher percentage of calories from added sugar is associated with significantly increased risk of cardiovascular disease mortality." In fact, refined sweeteners of any type (when eaten as a FOOD rather than used as a FLAVORING ages the body.
Ultimately, we need to shift our goal. Instead of finding something to substitute for white sugar, we need to address the underlying issue: addiction that leads to cravings. As Jeff Novick, MS, RD, points out, both white sugar and "natural" sweeteners are concentrated carbohydrates that quickly hit the pleasure center of our brain, tempting us to want more of this highly palatable food. Dr. Douglas Lisle explains this process in detail, helping us understand why we crave certain foods.
Instead, it's best to satisfy our sweet tooth with fresh fruit. Fruit contains sugar naturally packaged with fiber, essential nutrients, antioxidants, and other phytonutrients. Notes Dr. Joel Fuhrman, "Unlike processed foods with added sugars, nutrient-rich fresh fruits do not perpetuate sweet cravings and overeating." Keeping fresh fruit available, washed and ready to eat, is one way to help ourselves battle the desire for sweets. When we are feeling particularly weak, the intense sweetness of dates or raisins can rescue us from indulging in more damaging desserts. However, even dates or raisins should be eaten sparingly because their lack of water concentrates their calories.
Whatever our health status, we can free ourselves from adictive cravings and enjoy superb health and vitality when we understand why we desire certain foods. My video, Why We Do What We Do?, is designed to give you the tools you need to break ties with sugar and the other unhealthy food relationships in your life. A life without food addictions begins by taking the first step...you can take the first step today!
Preview the "Why We Do What We Do?" Trailer
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