Is Sugar Really That Bad?

The question I want to address today is: should sugar ever be consumed? And if so, in what amount?

We all know we should cut out or at least cut down on our sugar consumption. But what’s the problem with sugar?

Sugar exists in many forms, although we usually recognize it in its white powdered form. Sugar in all forms (including in natural sources) affects the body in a powerful way and we are consuming more of it now more than ever before.

Most of the consumption is from processed foods (which are laced with sugar) – we have a nation that is addicted to sugar. In 1915, the national US average of sugar consumption (per year) was around 15-20 pounds per person. Today, the average person consumes his/her weight in sugar, plus over 20 pounds of corn syrup!

The human body cannot tolerate this large amount of refined carbohydrates. The vital organs in the body actually get damaged by this amount of sugar intake.

A lot of times, we hear that we should do things in moderation, and eliminating any “food group” is not best. Well, of course it’s not a great idea to avoid an actual macronutrient category (such as carbohydrates, proteins, or fats)….but sugar in itself is not a food group!

Sugar contains no nutrients, no protein, no healthy fats, no enzymes. Sugar IS really just empty calories that actually pull minerals from the body during digestion.

So, is there any safe amount that can be consumed without detrimental effects on the body?

In my opinion, there is no safe amount of added sugar. Natural sugars in fruit and vegetables are a different story though – they are balanced by the fiber, vitamins, enzymes they contain and therefore slow sugar digestion and is much easier on the body. Added sugar, provides none of these benefits and instead has many undesirable effects on the body.

About twenty years ago, Nancy Appleton, PhD, began an eye-opening, research-supported list of the ways sugar can ruin your health. Here is a small, yet powerful sampling of reasons to avoid sugar from her book, Suicide by Sugar:

• Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, lung, gallbladder and stomach
• Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia.
• Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract, including an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis
• Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein
• Sugar can cause food allergies.
• Sugar contributes to obesity

So now that we know what it does to us, how can you zap those sugar cravings? Here are some practical steps you can take to eliminate sugar in your diet:

1. Adopt a diet that works for you. The diet that works best for you will likely be different than that of your spouse or co-worker or friend, even if they are all eating healthy. You will need to experiment with different food combinations, portions, protein levels, grain intake, and amount and type of fat, and timing of meals to determine what’s best for you. Evaluate how you feel with the experimentation. When you’re on a good diet, you’ll have a sense of vitality, clarity, and satisfaction that doesn’t make you reach for sugary foods.

2. Add more fermented foods to your diet. Many people find that fermented foods and beverages consumption decreases their cravings for sweets.

3. Slowly remove added sugar from your diet. If you’re a sugar addict, try removing sugar from your diet over a few weeks. Start by becoming more aware of the added sugar you’re consuming and replace these foods with some no-sugar added foods. Replace sodas with sparkling water, cookies with homemade trail mix, etc.

4. Prepare meals with all six tastes. Practitioners of Ayurveda believe that when each taste is present in a meal – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent – the body becomes more balanced and this means fewer cravings, stabilizing the appetite, and better digestion. Cook with spices to make sure you can get all of these tastes.

5. Have a Dessert Angel treat! There are no refined sugars in the recipes – this is the type of sugar that we really want to avoid. The desserts are sweetened naturally and won’t cause detrimental effects on your health like white or brown sugar will.

Hope you’re having an amazing weekend!

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