Sugar has a massive impact on our health. Food manufacturers have doubled the amount of sugar they add to products in the past 30 years yet most of us are blissfully unaware that we’re eating more of the sweet stuff than ever.
A summary of the effects of sugar can be seen below.
- Highly Addictive
- Stores fat
- Creates blood sugar rollercoaster, leading to diabetes
- Impacts our immune system
- Leaches valuable minerals
- Acid forming
- Increases risk of cancer
Artificial sweeteners have been linked to neurological disorders and cancer. Ones to steer clear of are: Aspartame, Neotame, Saccharin, Acesulfame K and Sucralose.
Also High Fructose Corn Syrup is widely used nowadays. It is especially hard for our body to digest and has been linked to insulin resistance – leading to diabetes.
For the full article on the impact of sugar and sweeteners click here
There are many healthier alternatives to choose from. Although I don’t find calorie counting a useful tool for being healthy, I have stated them for your reference. Low GI foods (Glycemic Index), being 55 and under is helpful when looking for slow release foods and sweeteners to keep a steady energy supply throughout the day.
Organic Raw Honey
Packed with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, makes this a treasure chest of nutritional value. Make sure you buy ‘raw’ otherwise all this good stuff would of be boiled away with the pasteurisation process or filtered out. It still has a fairly high fructose levels so don’t over do it. (60 Calories per tbsp, 30 GI)
In Japan, stevia has been used by millions of people for over 25 years. It has just become legal in the UK, after battles with the artificial sweetener companies trying to keep it under wraps! Studies suggest that stevia has a regulating effect on the pancreas and could help stabilise blood sugar levels in the body. You only need a tiny amount as it is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar! (Zero calories, 0 GI)
Luo Han Guo
Although newly discovered in the western world, the Chinese have had luo han guo in their “secret” traditions as a natural sweetener and healing remedy for many centuries. This plant has high antioxidant properties, and has been thought to have no affect on your blood sugar. A big thumbs up! (Zero calories, 0 GI)
Coconut Blossom Nectar
Also known as coconut palm sugar. Another fairly new one to the western world. Coconut nectar is naturally sweet and highly nutritious. Containing 16 amino acids and 4 different B vitamins makes it a very good choice as a sweetener. (45 Calories per tbsp, 35 GI)
Organic Blackstrap Molasses
Unsulphured Blackstrap is what you should be looking for. This is very high in vitamins, minerals. Plus being especially high in Iron makes a good choice for overcoming anemia. It can be an acquired taste to those who have taste buds conditioned to the likes of sugar and artificial sweeteners. (47 Calories per tbsp, 55 GI)
Look for Grade B maple syrup which is darker in colour and contains higher quantities of the minerals: zinc, manganese, potassium, magnesium, iron and calcium plus trace amounts of B vitamins. Make sure you buy a good quality organic brand that will have a rich toffee flavour. (52 calories per tbsp, 54 GI)
Dates/Raisins & Dried Fruit
All of these make good natural sweeteners, for pancakes, energy bars and smoothies etc. You might find that this sweetness alone is enough to curb your sweet tooth. Make sure you buy organic if possible as sulphites and vegetable oils may have been added to preserve them otherwise. (Dates 23 calories per 8.3g, Raisins 42 calories per 14g)
We all need to cut back on our dependence for sweet tastes, even the natural sugars. But substituting the white stuff and artificial/processed stuff for the ones above are going to be a great help to regaining and sustaining health.
Hydration is key in curbing cravings and stabilising blood sugar levels. Drink a pint of body temperature filtered water when your energy dips or you feel cravings for sweet stuff and be sure to sip water throughout the day. Often we are not hungry we are actually thirsty!
For the full article click here