Sugar: tastes great but reeks havoc on the system with symptoms such as hyperactivity, general malaise, diabetes, high blood pressure or just plain moodiness. Not to mention the effect it has on our teeth and of course, our waistlines. Sugar makes you fat. Oh and ill. And has addictive qualities like those associated with tobacco and caffeine.
We are consuming just shy of 30% more sugar per capita than we were in the early eighties, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. That’s a whopping great increase in a very short period of time. A period too small in order for our bodies to adjust to such a sizeable increase. And the effects speak for themselves. As a nation, we are getting fatter and fatter.
The sugar industry would like us to believe that white sugar is not only harmless but that it bestows health benefits. Going so far as to fund scientific studies that extol its virtues. And they are doing so for a reason. Sugar is big business. It appears in all manner of products, not just bags of sugar or in sweets and cakes where we would reasonably expect to find it, but it also makes an appearance in savoury foods such as baked beans, bread and potato chips. Why sugar appears in potato chips is a worry in itself. Perish the thought that manufacturers actually want to make their unhealthy food progeny more addictive, encouraging the hoi polloi to purchase more of their product. What possible benefit would that have for these manufacturers? Don’t be cynical now.
The ‘findings’ of these dubious studies we are more than happy to devour, if we don’t know who is behind them and if it means we can keep eating Twinkies for elevenses, not only without feeling guilty but knowing that we are actually doing something good for ourselves. If the scientists say it is true, it must be, right?
Wrong. These scientific claims have a strange reputation for claiming that such and such is not only unharmful but that it has some positive effect, but how do we know who funded these trials, how accurate the conclusions are and if they can be trusted. After many years of telling us that beer was bad for us, all of a sudden up popped claims that beer can help protect against heart disease. It might well be that beer is good for us, or that it claims some ingredient that when taken in very small doses can have a beneficial effect, but the truth is all too often the direct opposite. Red wine claims antioxidants that can help you live longer we are told, but it’s actually the grapes that contain the antioxidants, not the process of the grapes fermenting and becoming el vino.
Yes, a little of what you fancy can do you good but all too often, people find themselves unable to moderate themselves, particularly with highly addictive substances such as sugar.
The good news is that sugar is avoidable and there are replacements on the market but you need to learn to read labels to identify it. The following are names for hidden sugars that sneakily inveigle themselves into our foods without us knowing: sucrose, dextrose, turbinado, sorbitol and glucose. Them swines.
[adsense]Healthy or at least healthier replacements can be found at healthfood stores such as Wholefoods and in some major supermarkets. Agave syrup (a gloop obtained from the same cactus that gives us tequila. Ole!) has developed a reputation for being the perfect healthy substitute for sugar, but look out, it tastes great but it still has a detrimental effect on the system. Honey and maple syrup are other obvious healthy alternatives. Buy them raw if you can as processing them usually contains heating them which will kill their natural goodness. These babies are naturally sweet but should still be used sparingly.
Sugar in any of its guises can have a negative impact. Even fruit (whose natural sugar is called fructose) should be used moderately by people sensitive to sugar. Other healthier sweeteners to investigate are yacon syrup, dates (used in baking or smoothies), stevia and Xylitol. Which are generally thought to be safer alternatives to the white stuff.
The best thing you can do today is to remove all the white sugar from your diet and within a few days you should be feeling clearer minded and lighter for starters.
And don’t even think about using chemical substitutes such as aspartame. Avoid those like a naked man vomiting on a subway train. They are evil and ultimately, will not help you with weightloss but have been known to assist with epileptic seizures, depression, palpitations, insomnia, alergies, hairloss, high blood pressure and death, to name but a few.
Disclaimer: Before undertaking a sugar free diet, diabetics, or those with any kind of health problem related to sugar, should consult a medical professional. Be sure to check with your doctor before trying this if you are diabetic or have any kind of health problems related to sugar intake.
images: crossfitoakland.com, blisstree.com