The Bitter Truth About Sugar

The Bitter Truth About Sugar

Sugar Accelerates The Aging Process!

It is well known fact that refined sugar is detrimental to  our health, but just how bad is it and how much is too much?

Image courtesy of The Truth About Sugar

Soda is one of the most popular carbonated drinks available in the modern world, along with energy drinks and commercial fruit juices. The hype around the benefits of these products practically boosts their popularity. Candies, cookies, cereals and even instant gravies also add up to the list of foods with the highest sugar content. Besides being sweet and highly available, these products give the promise of immediate increase in physical and mental alertness which attracts consumers nowadays.

However, it’s widespread availability doesn’t mean it is safe. In fact, you might want to start to reconsider if the sweet taste in your mouth is even worth it.  Most of us use a spoonful of these granules to sweeten a cup of coffee or tea. But even in moderation, the bad effects of sugar may just surprise you.

Health Dangers Of Refined Sugar

Constant consumption of sugar alters the pH levels of our body. This change in environment can lead to weaker bones and teeth as our body draws in calcium to correct the acidity caused by sugars. That’s just one example of how sugar is a health hazard. The destruction of pretty much all the other organs is another one of the things this deadly substance can do to your body.

Sugar contains a molecule called Glucose 6-phosphate (G6P). This molecule alters the muscle protein of the heart. With this change, the pumping mechanism of the heart can also be altered and in turn, this increases the risk of developing heart disease and eventually heart failure as supported by a 2013 study in the Journal of American Heart Association.

There is over 8,000 scientific papers linking sugar to chronic disease source.

what sugar does to your body

Infographic courtesy of Max fit

Based on a recent study, obesity can be caused mainly by excessive sugar consumption. For instance, sugar lacks the nutrients that tells our body that we have consumed a lot of food. Unlike other foods rich in protein, fat and fiber that give us the feeling of fullness after consumption, sugar just makes us want more.

In 2008, a study showed that excess consumption of refined sugar leads to a condition referred to as leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone secreted from fat cells which helps to regulate body weight by signaling our body when we’ve had enough food.

Most of the time we ignore this signal–though for some it just doesn’t work. Therefore,  there is no way of telling our brain that the body has enough food to function. This is turn can lead to over consumption and ultimately, obesity. It is more often referred to as a silent killer since it all happens without symptoms or warning. For people who’ve gained weight in the past year and can’t identify why, high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar consumption might be the culprit.

Living life to the fullest may not be the best attitude when it comes to sugar consumption. Studies show an alarming link to excessive sugar intake and deficiencies in memory and cognitive health.

As opposed to the claims of energy drink manufacturers, studies show that increase in mental performance brought by these sweetened thirst-quenchers are nothing more than placebo. Giving in to your sweet tooth while you’re young hastens the aging process. The end result will make you look and feel old inside and out.

Sugar has similar toxic effects to the liver as alcohol. The liver metabolizes excess fructose and glucose the same way it does with ethanol in alcoholic beverages. This brings forth the same chronic conditions to the liver as an alcoholic would have.

Sugar intake may also precipitate formation of cancer cells. After consumption, sugar is accompanied by insulin so our cells could absorb it. Our body produces β-catenin, a protein that is completely dependent on sugar levels. This protein triggers insulin production by the pancreas. With too much sugar, excessive β-catenin is produced, which makes the cells more susceptible to cancer formation.

The problems persist when we try to replace sugar with artificial sweeteners. One common example is aspartame. It is being used to sweeten things without sugar, for instance, diet sodas. According to Harvard Medical School, consuming something sugar-free will not necessarily mean weight loss, though they admit that our bodies respond to these sweeteners in a complicated manner.

They imply that use of artificial sweeteners can make you shun healthy, filling, and highly nutritious foods while consuming more artificially flavored foods with less nutritional value.

Research suggests that the artificial sweeteners prevent us from associating sweetness with caloric intake. In turn, we may crave more sweets, tend to choose sweet food over nutritious food, and gain weight. As an example of more concrete harm, aspartame has also been linked to epilepsy and cancer, though the American Cancer Society does not claim any direct link.

The alternatives

With all the bitter effects of sweet sugar, try tickling your taste buds with some natural sweeteners, instead. Some may be expensive or may not have the same texture as your regular refined sugar, but these healthy alternatives are definitely worth the compromise.

Agave syrup –  Comes from South America and South Africa and is sweeter than honey, it is not entirely accurate to call this a health food but it is definitely a much healthier alternative to refined sugar or artificial sweeteners.

SteviaThis South American herb is as widespread as sugar yet tons of times sweeter. It may have had issues with the US food and Drug Administration over being labeled “sweetener” but has found its way to the mainstream market under the term “dietary supplement”. Stevia has no calories or glycemic impact making it the perfect match for diabetics and the health-conscious community.

XylitolNow this one is not all natural. This five-carbon sugar is commonly found in chewing gum. Having one carbon atom less than other sugars, Xylitol prevents bacterial growth. It is naturally produced by our body as well as by most fibrous fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is a healthier yet a more costly alternative to sugar.

Coconut Sugar – This nutritious alternative is made from evaporated coconut palm. Coconut sap is boiled down until the water evaporates. Coconut trees also benefit the local soil which makes it a more economically friendly crop than sugar cane.

Date Sugar – Dates Sugar is derived from dehydrated dates, ground to produce the sugar granules. It has a rich flavor similar to brown sugar. However, it is not a suitable sweetener for your coffee or tea as date sugar is hard to dissolve and doesn’t melt.

Honey – Organic honey tastes sweeter than sugar. It has everything that sugar lacks; more vitamins and antimicrobial properties. Though it has more calories which makes it sweeter than regular sugar, you’ll use it less. Honey has a wide range of varieties to give you countless options to match the flavor of your cooking.

Maple Syrup – Probably the most common bottle you’d find in everyone’s kitchen, maple syrup comes in liquid and powder form. This makes it a perfect alternative in baking recipes and tea parties.

Fruit Juice – Natural fruit juice is a great source of natural sugar. It may not come great with your tea or coffee but it would perfectly compliment your cakes and cookies. Don’t forget to check the labels to make sure there is no added sugar when you purchase fruit juices.

Molasses – These are by-products of the sugar production process. All the nutritional benefits taken away from sugar are left in molasses. It has a thick and viscous property which makes it most beneficial in baking. It is also sweeter than sugar so you’ll need less.

Brown Rice Syrup – Perfect for pancakes or porridges, brown rice syrup is gluten and wheat free. It has a hint of butterscotch flavor and retains most of the benefits of brown rice after processing. Brown rice syrup is also perfect for muffins and salad dressings.

Barley Malt Syrup – This alternative is easily digested and has a low glycemic index. However, it is not as sweet as sugar which makes it ideal only for baking bread.

 Luo Han GuoComparable to stevia extract, this Chinese fruit also known as the “longevity fruit,” is an all-natural sweetener. It is roughly 300 times sweeter than sugar by volume. In China, Lou han guo is not only used as a all-natural sweetener, taking place of sugar in food and beverages. It is also commonly used as a medicine, fighting off the aging process, promoting healthy levels of blood sugar, and even deterring free radical damage.


Cutting down sugar in your diet starting now

These healthier alternatives make it a little less hard to avoid sugary food and drinks. Unlike everything else, sugar does not come anywhere close to beneficial even in moderation. But completely avoiding it is more of tricky and tough than impossible. Almost all products in the market are manufactured with high sugar content. Processed foods are everywhere. The trick is to be keen in observing nutrition fact labels on everything we put inside our grocery carts.

You can start cutting down sugar in your diet by using gentle sweeteners. Avoid processed, artificial sweeteners and foods with loaded with sugar. Some of these gentle sweeteners are maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia, and barley malt, agave nectar, raw cane sugar or locally grown raw honey in replacement of refined sugar.

As much as possible, eliminate carbonated drinks as they provide no nutritional value, same as “energy drinks” and store bought “fruit flavored” juices from contrite. An alternative to this is by making your own “soft drinks” with equal parts fruit juice and water. You can also drink herbal tea added with lemon lime or fresh mint for additional flavor.

Whenever you crave for sugar, drink lots of water or eat a fresh piece of  fruit.  Sweet craving is a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes to see what happens. Relieve sugar cravings by adding fruit to your diet.  They are sweet, healthy and delicious. The more you eat, the less you’ll crave sugar.

Completely eliminate fat-free or low-fat packaged snack-foods since these foods have high quantities of sugar to make up for lack of flavor and fat. These types of food will send you on the roller-coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.

Physical activity is an integral part in balancing your blood sugar levels, boosting your energy, and decreasing tension without medicating yourself with sugar. Walking or doing yoga 10 minutes a day and gradually increasing it is a great start.

Sleep deprivation is also linked to sugar cravings. Therefore, get as much sleep and rest as you can.  Ideally, target to have at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep every night. Moreover, try to doze off before midnight since it has been found that it’s when most of the healing happens.

You should also limit the amount of animal food you eat. New findings indicate that eating too much versus eating too little can both result to sweet craving. Seek professional advice to help you sort this out.

Like all good deeds, the best eating habits start at home. It might be inconvenient at times, but home cooking will definitely help lessen your intake of unwanted sweets. You have more control of what’s going into your meals and beverages.

You have more control of what your kids eat. At a young age, they will learn to eat the right food. They will learn to embody the discipline of a healthy diet. And as they grow, their taste buds learn as well. They will be repelled by unhealthy food choices.

Remember that you are what you eat. It is also important to note that, even though each of the above is a natural sweetener and they are healthy to consume, most of them are still technically sugar and should be enjoyed as treats rather than in bulk.

Sugar brings nothing to your table but shallow, sweet-coated deceitful promises with nothing substantial to live up to what you think you would get from it. So unless you want to die young and fat with a broken heart, start eating the right sweets.

How much sugar is too much- a single grain of sugar!

american sugar consumption

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