(NaturalNews) Most of us have heard the good advice that we need to eat less sugar - and rightly so. However, despite the numerous warnings by health authorities of the ill effects of sugar, the majority of the population is still consuming sugar on a daily basis in some form or other. "Sugar" is both a broad category and a misleading one. Let's examine it for our health's sake.
We do not have to consume white, refined sugar to be consuming sugar. Sugar includes glucose, fructose (as in fruit sugar), lactose (as in milk), sucrose (as in table sugar), maltose or malts (as in rice malt and honey), jam (contains concentrated juice, which is high in fruit sugar), maple syrup, corn syrup, palm sugar (traditionally used in macrobiotic cooking), and the very deceiving organic brown sugar, which is not all that different from white sugar. Even alcohol is a sugar. All of these sugars are problematic in many different ways.
The sugar industry is not in decline and obesity is on the increase. Sugar is a major culprit in the case against obesity. For obese individuals, consuming even a teaspoon of sugar a day would cause metabolic imbalances that contribute to obesity. Sugar is to be avoided, not only by the obese but by healthy individuals.
Is there rationale behind the statement, 'Sugar is to be avoided'? Definitely!
Nancy Appleton, PhD, clinical nutritionist, has compiled a list of 146 reasons on 'how sugar is ruining your health' in her book Lick the Sugar Habit. Here are some of them:
* Sugar can decrease growth hormone (the key to staying youthful and lean)
* Sugar feeds cancer
* Sugar increases cholesterol
* Sugar can weaken eyesight
* Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children
* Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein
* Sugar causes food allergies
* Sugar contributes to diabetes
* Sugar can contribute to eczema in children
* Sugar can cause cardiovascular disease
* Sugar can impair the structure of DNA
* Sugar can cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children
* Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases)
* Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)
* Sugar contributes to osteoporosis
The body changes sugar into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch. With 146 proven reasons why sugar is bad for us, is there perhaps one single reason as to why we might need it? The only interesting thing about sugar is that it tastes good and makes us temporarily feel good. This is an area worth exploring.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a 5000 year-old wisdom of self-contained knowledge of healing, we all need sweetness in our life. We need six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, astringent, bitter and pungent to stimulate the taste buds on our tongue at main meals, in order to experience satiety.
Satiety and cravings are the result of imbalances in brain chemistry and have nothing to do with fullness of the stomach. When foods hit our tongue, our taste buds relay the bio-chemical information to the brain, stimulating various parts of the hypothalamus – the 'satiety centre'. The tongue is also a mini representation of the body, just like in reflexology, and contains points that stimulate all the organs in the body. Avoiding sweetness would be unnatural and unnecessary, as this will inevitably lead to imbalances and sweet cravings. This is why people have such a hard time giving up sugar; it is almost impossible to get children to stay away from it.
Many people really try hard to avoid sugar, and do not sweeten their tea or coffee, yet they crave sugar in some other form, such as chocolates, cakes, ice cream or even fruit - dates and figs. Dates are 99% sugar, in the form of fructose. When a person is in metabolic balance they do not crave sugar. If they do, it is a sign of a metabolic imbalance and it can be corrected without having to consume sugar.
The wonderful thing is that we do not have to give up the sweetness of sugar in order to be healthy; we just need to replace it with better alternatives. While giving up sugar is very difficult, replacing it is now very easy. There are two natural, organic sugar alternatives that are sweet, easy to use and cook with – stevia and xylitol. They may sound like chemicals but they are completely natural and have been proven not only safe but beneficial for our well-being.
The best one to use is Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) from the Asteraceae family, which was rediscovered by Dr. M. S. Bertoni in 1888. Stevia is a herb that has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. It is calorie-free, which means it has no effect on our bodies' production of insulin. Stevia, in its powdered concentrate, is 300 times sweeter than sugar, so only tiny amounts are needed for sweetening. Stevia is widely used all over the world. In Japan, for example, it claims 41% of the sweetener market, including sugar, and was used in Japanese Diet Coke until the company replaced it with aspartame (to "standardize" worldwide).
There have not been any reports of toxicity with stevia, which is consumed by millions of people daily. However, in the US, the FDA, and in Australia, the FSANZ, do not allow stevia to be used as a food additive. But in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, stevia is fully approved and has proven to be safe, with no toxicity reported from its use to date. In Australia stevia is sold as a supplement and it is readily available from various distributors. A wonderful article that puts the whole sugar industry in perspective is published by the Herb Research Foundation: Stevia Leaf - Too Good To Be Legal? by Rob McCaleb (http://www.dorway.com/stevia2.html) .
The only thing that deters people using stevia is that it can taste a little bitter in drinks and in some recipes, but this can be overcome by using another wonderful sweetener, called xylitol, in combination with stevia for ideal sugar replacement.
Xylitol is a natural substance found in fibrous vegetables and fruit, as well as in corn cobs and various hardwood trees, like birch. It is a natural, intermediate product that regularly occurs in the glucose metabolism of humans and animals, as well as in the metabolism of several plants.
Xylitol is so natural that our bodies produce up to 15 grams of it daily during normal metabolism. Xylitol has been known to organic chemistry since the 1890's. Studies on both humans and rodents have shown that xylitol, when administered orally, is well tolerated and safe to levels of at least 40g per day (which equates to some 10-12 teaspoons of sugar) with no subjective or objective adverse findings. Importantly, much less insulin is released into the blood during xylitol administration than during glucose administration. This is obviously a very good thing for insulin-sensitive individuals or for anyone concerned with weight loss, as insulin (apart from driving the glucose into the cells) also tells the body to store even slight excess carbohydrates as fat, rather than to use them as energy.
Relatively high quantities of xylitol are found in plums, raspberries and cauliflower (0.3 to 0.9 g per 100 g dry matter; the quantities vary depending on plant varieties). Even though xylitol is derived from fruits and vegetables, it is not the same as fructose. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar, which means that it is anti-microbial (prevents the growth of bacteria), whereas all other forms of sugar are six-carbon sugars, which cause bacterial and fungi overgrowth.
Xylitol looks, feels and tastes exactly like sugar - though that is where the similarity ends! While sugar wreaks havoc on the body, xylitol heals and repairs. It also builds immunity.
There are many benefits of using xylitol as a sugar substitute:
* Glycemic index of 7 (sucrose is 60)
* Minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels
* Inhibits plaque and dental cavities by 80% (Dentists use it and recommend xylitol toothpaste)
* Retards demineralization, and promotes re-mineralization, of tooth enamel
Based on scientific and public health evaluations, xylitol has been approved in virtually all industrialized countries to be used in oral hygiene products and in other products to promote oral health.
In its crystalline form, it can replace sugar in cooking, baking, and as a sweetener for beverages. Xylitol is used in chewing gum, mints and hygiene products, such as nasal and mouth washes, because it inhibits bacteria. Unlike many artificial sweeteners, it leaves no unpleasant aftertaste. Xylitol is formally approved in over 50 countries worldwide. Xylitol has no known toxic levels (Except that quantities over 90 gm/day may have a laxative effect).
The amount tolerated varies with individual susceptibility and body weight. Most adults can tolerate at least 40 gm/day. The only problem with xylitol is that it costs more than sugar, however, if we combine it with stevia in the ratio of 12:1 (12 parts of xylitol to 1 part of stevia), it becomes more cost effective and is a healthy way to sweeten our taste buds and satisfy our brain! Imagine eating cakes and chocolates that not only taste good but are also good for our teeth? You can literally have your cake and enjoy it without the guilt or empty detrimental sugar calories!
J. J. Rumessen and E. Gudmand-Hoyer, Functional Bowel Disease: Malabsorption and Abdominal Distress After Ingestion of Fructose, Sorbitol, and Fructose-Sorbitol Mixtures, Gastroenterology 95, no. 3 (September 1988): 694-700.
Teya Skae M.A. ATMS Corporate Wellness Presenter/Researcher and Author As the founder of Empowered Living Teya has developed a results based I.D.E.A.L Solutions for increasing your energy, focus and personal Success! Teya is also a QUIT smoking specialist with proven results in one session guaranteed. For Tangible Results and Solutions to Fat Loss, Physical, Emotional and Mental Fitness visit www.empowered-living.com.au