14 Jul 2018
What is the deal with sugar? How could something that tastes so good and grows from the ground be bad for us?
Here’s the nitty gritty:
In terms of table sugar or sugar which is added to baked, processed and packaged foods, soda, refined carbohydrates and the like, aside from taste, there is no redeeming value. The sugar cane plant, in its original form, does contain many nutrients. The problem is that they are all removed during the refining process. The good stuff ends up in the sludge, which is also known as molasses. Clearly not the same taste and not equally substitutable for sugar, organic black strap molasses (not the other forms of molasses) is good for you. It contains vitamin B6, iron, calcium, potassium, as well as other vital minerals.
What about organic sugar and brown sugar? The only difference between organic and conventional sugar is that the organic is grown without pesticides. It is still devoid of nutrients and starts the same negative cascade of conditions described below. Although it looks like a healthier option, brown sugar is really just regular sugar with some molasses mixed in. The nutrient content is only slightly better than regular sugar, as there are just miniscule amounts of the vitamins and minerals found in molasses.
Refined sugar, no matter the form, is just plain bad for you. It is highly inflammatory and highly addictive. As a matter of fact, studies done on both humans and rats showed that they were more addicted to sugar than cocaine. (To learn more about that, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931610)
We all know what addictive means.
What about inflammatory?
The definition of inflamed is swollen, puffy, red, sore, painful. Inflammation is a natural part of the healing process – say, from a cut or injury – but that is not what we are referring to in this case. We do not want any parts of our bodies (arteries, brains, organs, etc.) to become inflamed due to our diets. Refined sugar is a huge source of this type of inflammation.
How does the inflammation occur? This isn’t the time for a complicated explanation of the chemical processes in our bodies but, suffice it to say, eating too many sugary foods, refined carbohydrates, drinking too much soda, etc. will cause oxidative stress and inflammation. Unabated, this inflammation can lead to an assortment of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
According to the World Cancer Research Fund, being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing eleven common types of cancer. Why? Because excess body fat induces hormone changes as well as inflammatory states that cause stress on the pancreas and other organs. These factors greatly increase our risk of cancer.
BACK TO THE GOOD
Our cells do use sugar in the form of glucose for energy, but we don’t need to eat refined sugar to provide our cells with energy. The good news is that by changing our dietary habits, we can naturally lower our blood sugar levels, counteract the high levels of inflammation, and still have plenty of energy to power our bodies. Eating whole foods rather than refined, cooking more at home so that we control the ingredients in our meals, consuming lots of fresh vegetables and some fruit (with the emphasis on vegetables), using small amounts of other naturally occurring sweeteners (raw local honey, maple syrup, stevia, black strap molasses) instead of sugar, will do wonders for your body and health. And avoid those pastel packets!