Sugar cane is a lush green tropical plant/grass. In its untouched form it is full of vitamins and minerals the body actually needs, including, iron and the B vitamins, especially niacin and B-6; calcium, magnesium and phosphorus for strong bones and potassium.
Unfortunately, that’s not what ends up in our food, drinks, baby food and pasta sauce – yes, some baby food and pasta sauce are actually loaded with sugar!
When sugar is processed, the vitamins, minerals and fiber become a thick blackish-brown syrup- product called blackstrap molasses, which is separated out. Then everything else that’s left from the sugar cane gets bleached to remove impurities that would keep it from looking snowy white. What’s left over is refined, white sugar and this is what I am talking about – this is the “white devil.”
Illness loves sugar
Americans consume on average 142 lbs. of sugar a year per person. In 1699 colonists consumed about 4lbs of sugar per person a year. Diabetes is at an all time high and diseases related to sugar intake are on the rise. It’s pretty clear that the sweeter we get the worse off we are.
When a client comes to me with any kind of illness from a common cold to acne to HIV to depression – the first thing I ask them to do is reevaluate their relationship with sugar.
What type of sugar do you consume?
Contrary to what most trainers and registered dietitians think, not all sugar is ‘bad’ sugar. I was giving a lecture on sugar a few years back and this woman exclaimed, “ I cannot have carrots. My trainer said they are ALL sugar!” My reply was simple, “Yes, he is right. They do have sugar, but they also have fiber and nutrients.” That is, unless you juice them….
The last time I had a carrot juice, I literally couldn’t get up off of the couch afterwards– I might has well have had a jelly donut!
It’s the fiber and nutrients along with fat that slow down the insulin spike which causes fatigue, among a variety of other issues. If sugar comes in a form that’s been untouched from its original state, it has probably the fiber, nutrients and hopefully fat along with it too.
That said, I still tend to avoid or eat in moderation very concentrated natural sugar sources, like dried fruits. The fact remains that no one I know has ever gotten fat, or sick from eating carrots, apples and blueberries.
How overloading on sugar leads to diabetes
When you have too much sugar (about 8 grams or so) at once, the brain sends a signal to the pancreas that there is too much sugar in the blood. So the pancreas releases the hormone insulin to go into the blood stream and opens up the protein molecules– like Pac-Man – to gobble up the sugar and keep things balanced. After a while, if the person consumes processed white sugar in a way that is rough for the body (meaning no fiber and nutrients in the stomach), the pancreas gets exhausted and ‘gives up’….and this is called diabetes.
Where is it hiding in your diet?
Start to gage the amount of refined sugar by being aware of what you eat. This includes all refined carbohydrates like white pasta, white rice and (dun dun dun!) bread. Most obviously desserts are loaded with refined sugar – and sorry to break the news – but booze is high up on the sugar scale. No matter how many antioxidants red wine has, it also has a lot of sugar.
Yes, there’s a time for chocolate!
I love Ayervedic medicine (ancient Indian wellness). They actually have a time for chocolate! It is right after lunch in the afternoon. The understanding is that once the stomach is full of nutrient-dense, real food (like protein, fat, and vitamins) then it creates the cushion of fiber and nutrients, that we talked about earlier, to absorb the added sugar into the system.
What’s going on with you when you are reaching for the sugar?
There is a strong correlation between emotions and sugar because it can give us a ‘lift’. We literally get a bit of a ‘high’ or a ‘rush’ because of the sugar alcohol in sugar. It really does act like a drug in the body. Notice if you reach for sugar when you feel blue, tired or if you are a social/peer-pressure sugar ‘user.’
What you can do to make your sugar intake healthier
1) Choose to sweeten with only unrefined sugar such as: honey, maple syrup, molasses and date sugar. Yes, it’s still all sugar but these unrefined forms have some trace minerals (in the case of blackstrap molasses or date sugar) and vitamins too.
2) Timing is everything – consume sugar after you have eaten other nutrient-dense foods containing fiber and fat.
3) Open your eyes to your overall emotional state when reaching for the stuff! Are you tired? Bored? Upset? Lonesome? Heartbroken?
4) Please ‘heart’ your pancreas. Treat this sweet potato-shaped organ lovingly and with respect. Remember all of the hard work it does to keep you healthy and don’t stress it out by overdosing on sugar.
Chances are you are sweet enough without the sugar, so find other ways to sweeten up life if you need a pick-me-up. Puppies always do the trick for me, but don’t eat them, that would be really wrong.