Health and Beauty
Sugar....that controversial granule that makes everything taste yummy. Though we health-conscious- people hate to admit it, sugar is addictive and without it, so many dishes are found wanting.
So what is so bad about sugar anyway? My brothers would argue that there isn't anything bad with sugar...in fact that sugar is an essential to living. Why do we health nuts go through torturous pains to avoid it?
After having several debates on the subject with both of my brothers I decided I needed to arm myself with some facts. I needed to stop believing other people's advice as fact and learn exactly why I do give up sugar. I thought I'd share. :)
What is sugar?
Sugar comes in many forms. Sucrose, or common table sugar, is a disaccharide which breaks down during digestion into the simple sugars glucose and fructose. Glucose is the primary sugar in the blood; fructose is the primary sugar in fruit and high fructose corn syrup. Other common disaccharides are maltose (malt sugar) and lactose (milk sugar).
maple syrup -- a sugar alternative
White sugar verses Natural Sweeteners
White sugar is refined sugar. Only during the last century has man's diet included high percentages of refined carbohydrates. Our ancestors ate their foods in the whole unrefined state. In nature, sugars and carbohydrates – the energy makers – are linked together with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, fat and fiber. In other words, sugar and starch support life. But refined sugars and flours are counterproductive to life because they are devoid of many of these elements. Digestion of refined carbohydrates calls on the body's own store of vitamins, minerals and enzymes for proper metabolization. For example, when vitamin B is absent, the breakdown of carbohydrates cannot take place, yet most B vitamins are removed during the refining process.
The refining process strips natural grains, vegetables and fruits of their vitamin and mineral contents! Refined carbohydrates have been called “empty” calories, but as Nourishing Traditions  points out, they should be called “Negative” calories since they deplete the body's necessary reserves. ( 21, NT) Consumption of refined sugar (and flour for that matter) only withdraw and do not refund nutrients. Our nutritional “account” can become depleted. Different people may feel the effects of refined sugar/flour sooner or later than others, but inevitably the effects will be felt by us or our children who will inherit our health, or lack thereof. For example, to metabolize only one molecule of sugar the body requires around 56 molecules of magnesium. It is easy to understand why consumption of this unnatural refined sugar has led to widespread magnesium deficiency in our modern society, which also leads to high blood pressure, neurological, immune disorders and many other issues. (112 GAPS )
Rapidura -- a sugar alternative
Sugar does not only harm diabetics. Many Hypoglycemics are advised to eat something sweet when they feel the symptoms of low blood sugar. Dumping sugar into the bloodstream creates a temporary relief. But the consumption of “negative” calories in refined sugars and flours deplete the body's reserves, while producing a roller coaster effect of high and low blood sugars. High blood sugar sets in motion a harmful process called glycation, the bonding of amino acids to sugar molecules that can cause terrible damage to the lens of the eye and the nerves around it. This can take place in anyone who eats sugar, not only diabetics. (22, 37 NT) Apart from causing the blood glucose roller coaster and damaging the gut flora, refined sugar also has been shown to impair the immune system. (111 GAPS)
Staying away from refined sugar all together, and having a limited diet of refined flour is a good idea for everyone. Whole foods are what our bodies prosper on; physically we cannot consume great quantities of sugar without negative results. It is interesting that with the increase in sugar consumption so has all the modern diseases. In 1821, the average sugar intake in America was 10 pounds per person, per year; today it is 170 pounds per person. (23, NT) The average of an American's caloric intake shows that more than half the diet consists of sugar, white flour and vegetable oils. (23, NT) This means that less than half of the diet must provide all the nutrients to the body that is under constant attack from it's sugar/flour/bad oil intake. And we wonder why America is plagued by diseases?
Date Sugar -- an alternative to sugar
But I Like Sugar...
Yeah, I know. Practically the rest of the world does also. In fact, my brothers point out that it makes life enjoyable. Everyone eats it, why are all the health nuts crying out against it? What's the big deal? Well, it's not only my brothers that say sugar is one of life's simple pleasures...
“Remember, eating is one of the real pleasures of life...for most people, sugar helps other things taste better...Sugar calories are not different from other calories, from calories obtained from protein, startch, fat or alcohol.” (25, NT)
That is a quote by Dr. Federick Staire, former chairman of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard University's School of Public Health.
What? You mean there are doctors saying that sugar is okay? Well yes, but what you didn't know is that Harvard's Department of Nutrition receives the bulk of its funding from the Food Industry, an industry thriving off of it's sugar profits – sugar, the cheap, easily produced, stored, long lasting sweetness conveniently masking over-processed concoctions labeled “food”. Sugar preserves packaged processed foods by tying up the water in which spoilage bacteria grow.
An yet, evidence against sugar continues to mount. Refined Sugar has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, eating disorders, mental disorders, and even shortened life in animal experiments. p.23 But the uneducated public continues to consume these sugars. The Food Industry (Americas largest industry) is not going to inform you. They need vegetable oils, white flour and sugar to produce junk food. They profit by your ignorance of health.
So What to Do?
Try replacing white flour products with a variety of properly prepared whole grains (ie: sprouted or soaked grains) and organic flours. Limit sweets to occasional desserts and use natural sweeteners. Of course this is easier said than done, but your persistence will reward you with your own improved health as well as your childrens. Our children will inherit our health, our gut flora...we should care. We can't rely on the “experts”, or what everyone else is doing. It's our health, our children's health; we are responsible.
It IS possible to survive without refined sugar. In fact, life CAN be enjoyable without refined sugar.
Raw Honey -- an alternative to sugar
Some “Natural Sweeteners” to look into would include: Raw Honey, Maple Syrup, Rapadura, Stevia, Date Sugar, Blackstrap Molasses, Malted Grain syrups, Sorghum syrups and naturally sweetened jam. (See my Sorbet recipe and check out Nourishing Traditions as well as GAPs recipes)
Always avoid, Fructose and Fructose Corn syrup, concentrated fruit juice or “raw”, “natural” sugars.
A Helpful Note About Sugar
Eating sugar accompanied with fat (cream, butter, eggs) will slow down sugar absorption into the bloodstream while providing fat-soluble nutrients that nourish the glands that regulate our blood sugar. Also, using honey in baking can be done. When a recipe calls for one cup sugar, try using the same amount of honey. Of course honey is heavier and a different consistency can occur in your baked goods so it does require some experimenting. But for the most part, honey is a wonderful alternative to sugar in baked goodies. Also, sugar can hide in the “chemical” ingredients on the back. A good tip is that anything ending in -ose indicates a sugar.
Stevia -- an alternative to sugar Blackstrap molasses -- an alternative to sugar Jam -- an alternative to sugar
 NT: Fallon, Sally Nourishing Traditions.1999 Washington DC; NewTrends Publishing, Inc., 2001. Print
 GAPS: Campbell-McBride, Natasha Gut and Psychology Syndrome. 2004 Cambidge: Medinform Publishing, 2014. Print