The Sweet Stuff…Sugar

sugarMany of us say we were born with a sweet tooth….at least that’s what I hear from friends and family when they reach for that candy, ice cream or slice of rich chocolate cake.   I’m more of a salty, savoury flavour follower and from my research I know that avoiding sugar is a good healthy choice.

Sugar is not good for us in many ways and it is everywhere in our food supply today.  It is one of the most harmful ingredients in the standard American and Canadian diet along with trans fats.  Processed food is absolutely laced with sugar.

If you follow the Food Pyramid’s put out by the government as guidelines for nutrition, the amount of safe daily sugar consumption has now been modified.  It has been placed on the top of the pyramid and is in the “use sparingly” category.

If you did not touch sugar in the form of sweets or desserts all day….you are still getting sugar in your everyday foods.  It is in every processed food you can think of.  (It’s best to avoid processed foods anyway).  It’s in ketchup, salad dressing, canned soups, bread, crackers, spaghetti sauce and on and on the list goes.  If you aren’t a food label reader maybe you should become one.  Or just stop buying ready made foods and cook nutritious meals  from scratch with whole ingredients that do not have any added sugar.

There is naturally occurring sugar in fresh fruit but that’s not the sugar we are referring to here.  It’s the refined white stuff and the corn syrup that is added to foods to make them taste better that is the demon.  It is high in calories and void of any nutritional values at all.

Sugar is detrimental to our health overall in so many ways.

1.  Sugar is bad for our oral health.  You’ve heard it since you were a kid….sugar is not good for your teeth and it feeds the bad bacteria in your mouth leading to tooth decay and gum disease.

2.  Your liver takes a beating when you consume sugar.  I’m not referring to the fructose from fruit.  But eating too much refined sugar can lead to fatty liver disease.  It’s stored in the liver as glycogen and used as the body needs it but if you have too much fructose in the liver from overconsumption then it will turn to fat.

3.  Eating too much sugar can lead to Insulin Resistance which leads to Diabetes and other health problems.   Insulin is a vital hormone in the body.  Insulin allows blood sugar to enter cells and the cells start burning glucose.  If your body has too much glucose from overindulging in sugar then it becomes very toxic.  If you eat too much sugar your body becomes resistant to the insulin causing dangerous health problems such as obesity, heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes.

4.  The scariest thing about overindulging in sugar is that it contributes to CANCER.  It is a proven fact that sugar feeds cancer cells.  Sugar causes inflammation in the body.  It has been studied and proven that people who eat a lot of sugar are at a much higher risk of getting cancer.

5.  Sugar is very addictive.  It’s like a drug releasing dopamine into the reward center of the brain.  When you eat a sugary treat you are giving your brain a massive dopamine high and that keeps you coming back for more.

6.  People who eat the most sugar are likely to be in the “obese” or “overweight” segment of the population.  It has a very strong affect on your hormones and your brain increasing your odds of becoming and staying overweight.  Yikes.

I choose to avoid sugar in my daily nutrition and get my sweet fix from a fresh organic apple or other kinds of fruit.  Once you stop sugar and get over the “addiction” to it you can taste the sweetness in fruit and vegetables such as sweet peppers.  It’s true.

It’s a tough “nut to crack” so to speak,  but when you look at all the negative things that can happen to your health from eating that rich chocolate cake…I think I’d take the fruit over the cake any day.

Here’s a statistic that may alarm you.  In the year 1915 the average sugar consumption per year per person was around 15 to 20 pounds.   Today the average person is consuming their weight in sugar each year as well as added pounds of corn syrup.

If you need the sweet flavour in your foods then try some non-sugar sweeteners such as stevia, Lo han, and xylitol.  Honey, in it’s unrefined raw state, has health benefits but must be consumed in moderation.  There are many cookbooks and websites that show you how to make sweet tasting treats using these non-sugar sweeteners.

Do not reach for sucralose or aspartame.  These two chemicals are toxic and detrimental to your health.

Really…..there is no safe level of refined sugar consumption.  You hold the ultimate control over how much sugar you put in your body.  Choices, choices, choices…….

 

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