There was an often-repeated phrase when I was growing up: “Must have eaten too much sugar…” This applied to even ridiculous events like when my brother sprained an ankle and he groaned and confessed, “I know mom, I ate too much sugar.” My mother was part of the pioneer generation of “back to the landers” who chose to make radical changes away from the in Standard American Diet (S.A.D.) My brother and I were fortunate to grow up with a big organic vegetable garden, whole grains and virtually no processed foods in our diet.
Recently I attended a talk on sugar given by another sugar crusader, Caroleah Johnson who is a local Health Coach. She taught us about how refined sugar not only is bad for your teeth and blood sugar levels, but also actually robs minerals from the body in order to be metabolized. This could explain why many children today suffer from brittle bones and bone disorders.
As you know from seeing me in clinic, I’m big on finding healthy substitutions for foods that no longer are in our highest good. If you are going to consume sugar, it’s always best to eat whole, un-refined versions of sugar such as evaporated cane juice. Through all my research, I keep coming back to honey, however. Honey is a wonderful healing food packed with vitamins and minerals. It has been used throughout time to heal sores on the body and can also eliminate other health issues such as pollen allergies if it is raw and local.
I have relied on stevia for years to sweeten my tea, but find that it is not good for baking. Some people also have a difficulty digesting it. Many diabetics, however, would benefit from using stevia instead of all the toxic substitutes on the market I like the NuNaturals brand of powder that comes in the little packets similar to sugar substitute packets found nearly everywhere.
If you thought that the sugar substitutes were a healthy choice, think again. Splenda’s side effects include seizures, blurred vision, allergies and gastro-intestinal problems. Aspartame-Equal is a known cause of birth defects, cancer and has 92 side effects. Saccharin based Sweet’N Low is also linked to cancer. All of these sugar substitutes also lead to weight gain. If you’re interested in reading more, check out Dr. Mercola’s website at mercola.com.
My rule of thumb is if I can barely pronounce it and it definitely is not a living plant, I don’t buy it. Not bringing unhealthy foods into your home is the first step. And if you have some in your cabinets, perhaps some Spring-cleaning is in order.
Sugar affects your body in many strange and horrifying ways. First off, it produces a lot of heat in your body. Heat in your body is called inflammation. Inflammation is a contributing factor leading to cancer. Americans consume 150 pounds of sugar per person every year. If you also want to avoid getting Alzheimer’s disease, Adrenal fatigue, and Type II Diabetes it is best to avoid this dangerous temptation.
Why is sugar so hard to give up? For many it is an emotional replacement for love. When people offer you sugar treats, it is one of the most asocial behaviors you could possibly do to “just say no.” From a biochemical perspective it has an extremely addictive nature because it produces opiates in the brain, which are similar to morphine and heroin. From a Chinese medicine perspective sugar relaxes the liver organ which becomes tight and constrained when we are stressed. A small amount of sweet food is actually therapeutic to relax the liver, too much causes liver and spleen disorders. Our bodies can safely handle 2 tablespoons of sugar per day; over that limit it creates health problems in our bodies.
If you’re curious and you really want to scare yourself so badly that maybe this time you actually will stop eating sugar, try reading Sugar Blues by William Dufty. Another good resource is Dr. Mercola’s book Sweet Deception. If you can stop all refined sugar for three days, the craving cycle can be broken and you are able to enjoy the sweetness of fresh fruit as a treat.
Fructose is not a guilt-free excuse to binge, either. Fructose, unlike glucose, which is absorbed by every cell in your body is metabolized only in the liver. There are also a lot of similarities between fructose and alcohol in terms of the damage done on the liver. The main concerns are high fructose corn syrup, but it can also apply to eating too much dried fruit and drinking excess amounts of juice. The acceptable amount of fructose is about 20 grams per day. The lowest glycemic fruits are delicious fresh berries.
Some tips that Caroleah mentioned for kicking the sugar habit are taking L-glutamine in 500 mg 3-4 times/day, sipping hot water throughout the day, including fat and protein in each meal, increasing your fermented foods (such as sour kraut) in your diet and making sure that each meal has all six flavors in it. You can also try a 21-day sugar detox if you really want to get serious about getting rid of the sugar blues. The trick to getting off sugar is finding satisfying substitutes for foods that are no longer in your highest good to eat.
Here is a tasty alternative to candy, I adapted from Ten Talents by Frank and Rosalie Hurd, published in 1968:
Dandy Carob Candy
Mix in a bowl:
2/3 cup carob powder
½ cup raw honey
½ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons whey powder or protein powder
1 tsp. peppermint or vanilla extract
1 cup mixed nuts, seeds or shredded coconut
Mix well and add enough coconut milk and carob to make it stiff. Form into balls and roll in shredded coconut. Chill and store in the fridge or freezer in a tupperware for your sweet indulgences. Enjoy