Nutrition is something that really interests me, no matter how healthy, or not healthy I've been eating, if I hear an interesting fact, or tip, I'm always inspired to 'clean house' and get back into whats really good and nourishing for my body. Knowledge of sound nutrition is so vitally important because believe it or not, what we eat REALLY affects us! Food doesn't just taste good or bad, or make you thin or fat, it can make your body the healthy machine it was meant to be or a chemical store room being pumped with more prescribed chemicals to help you make it through the day. Research has proven that a healthy plant based diet rich in whole grains can actually reverse diabetes, cancer, and obviously obesity! Why are we searching for cures, when a remedy has already been proven! Well, there are two basic reasons, one doctors are paid to promote pharmaceutical companies, and what I think hits the closest to home... Its hard to change our diets.
With that in mind, lets get down to the dirty facts about two faced sugar. Sugar is really close to my heart, in fact I'd call myself a sugar addict, and I'd go as far as to compare sugar to crack! Don't worry I'll explain all this. Sugar is two faced, she's so sweet and tasty, but then she bitterly mucks up your body and keeps you coming back for more!
So whats so bad about her? Well, in a basic sense, there are whole foods which are created by God and found in nature, and then there are human processed foods. The whole foods each have unique combinations of carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals, and beautifully our bodies can and know how to metabolize them perfectly! The processed foods, on the other hand, have bits and pieces of the original whole food removed which confuses our body, and stresses our health because we're trying to come up with the missing elements so we can metabolize them. This creates imbalance in our bodies, and imbalance always breeds more imbalance. Sugar is highly processed.
Nature created the coca leaf, which does not harm the body, and it was processed into highly addictive cocaine, the poppy flower, and poppy seeds that are great for you were created by nature, but then processed into heroin, and last but not least, sugar cane (whole, solid) is fine because it still has it's minerals and vitamins intact, but then there's the highly processed white sugar which rapes your health, and is so gosh darned addictive!
Specifically, sugar is linked to a lot of horrible things! Sugar takes our bodies and our bloods vital vitamins and minerals. When the sugar is digested our bodies give up these vitamins and minerals to help metabolize it, leaving us with extra fat and less vital nutrients. In fact food, real food is a nutrient because it nourishes our bodies, whereas scientifically sugar is often refered to as an antinutrient because it takes away from us! Sugar suppresses our immune systems, for example, if your diet consists of lots of sugary snacks (chocolate bars, Starbucks, baked goods etc.) it causes your blood sugar to go up, this, in turn, causes your body to create insulin to help it metabolize, but when it's done, extra insulin remains which causes an imbalance in your hormones, particularly related to your immune system! Phew! And if thats not bad enough, sugar takes on industrial toxins during the processing, which over works your liver, which also takes away from your immune system.
Eating sugar, like taking any other drug is a roller coaster. When you take in the sugar your blood sugar peaks, which at first makes you feel happy and excited, but then it causes headache and fatigue. Then when your blood sugar crashes it causes moodiness/irritability, anxiety, dizziness, depression, and many other things (sound like withdrawal?). In Alicia Silverstone's book 'the kind diet' she says, "sugar consumption can leade to mood swings and behaviour that, over time, we misrecognize as our true selves. I can personally attest that life is much happier and more balanced off the (sugar) roller coaster." (The Kind Diet)
Sugar isn't looking so tasty any more is it? Well, I'm not done yet!
Sugar has been associated with cancer. When the blood sugar goes through the roof, so does insulin, which results in too much insulin. This excessive amount of insulin promotes the growth of certain types of cancer cells, particularly pertaining to breasts, ovaries, lung, colon, prostate, and stomach cancer.
This may seem redundant, but its so crucial that we know what sugar is doing to our bodies, especially when dealing with insulin resistance and diabetes. Up until awhile ago I didn't really understand sugar and how it related to diabetes, but I get it now, and I'll write it out as simply as possible. When you consume a diet high in sugar, it causes your blood sugar to be high, this causes your pancreas to release insulin to help the sugar get to certain cells where it turns it into fuel, but when the diet has too much sugar, your blood sugar is always high, which causes the insulin to stop working, so the sugar doesn't make it to the cells. This is called insulin resistance. To make matters worse, if your blood sugar is high, and the insulin isn't working, then your cells don't get the sugar that turns into fuel, so... You CRAVE MORE SUGAR! This just reinforces the cycle, and over time your pancreas can stop working, then voila! Diabetes!
Now, I really want to stop taking sugar, but its so hard! And because I'm so infatuated with it, I'm blinded to what it does to me. Until your off it for about a month, you won't notice the visible affects it has to your body. Once you do go off it, however, you may notice these side affects if you slip up and eat a cupcake! You may get a headache, gain weight, feel tired and almost hung over, become depressed, moody, and of course, you'll crave more of it!
So what should we avoid (sugar comes in so many forms!) and what should we replace it with? White/basic sugar is pretty obvious, but as well any ingredients ending with "ose" are to be avoided (dextrose, sucrose, maltose, fructose = all simple sugars!). Please, Please, Please, avoid high fructose corn syrup! HFCS is just as addictive as sugar, is subsidized by government in some regions, has been genetically modified, has been linked to insulin resistance, and is a major contributor to our continents climbing obesity rate. Its in nearly every processed food, but it really is poisonous to us! Evaporated cane juice may sound harmless, but really its only slightly less processed than sugar, and is just as addictive. Last but not least, honey, its just as addictive and quickly raises your blood sugar just like sugar. So now I've taken away everything... What will sweeten our food! Have no fear, there are a few alternatives. Now because sugar is actually quite rare in nature, I believe that it should be quite rare in our diets, but if you are craving something sweet try brown rice syrup, maple syrup, or agave nectar. These will flow into your blood at a much more moderate pace, replacing the sugar roller coaster highs and lows!
So, I'll try again, starting over is wonderful!