Let’s talk about sugar

Did you know that 1 teaspoon of sugar can suppress your immune system between 4-6 hours?
Could this explain why kids are so often sick? While there are many contributing factors to every illness, we certainly should not over-look this very relevant fact…If you are an athlete, this is a major concern…Illness means reduced ability to perform at your best, and may take you out of the game entirely. But what about everyone else? Missed time at school or work, means extra homework and lost income.

In working with athletes on a weekly basis, we are often asked what can be done to strengthen immunity. Below we will discuss some basic concerns with sugar and then what the alternatives are.

It’s true, we do need sugar to survive; it’s our brain’s primary source of fuel. However, we do not need it from highly refined sources, such as high fructose corn syrup and white sugar. And we definitely consume way too much of it, which is contributing to the obesity epidemic. 

In addition, sugar gets metabolized into glucose in our body and if this process occurs too quickly, our blood sugar levels can spike and then crash, leaving us feeling lethargic and moody. 

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There are many common sweeteners hidden in our foods, that we should try to avoid whenever possible, or at the very least try to reduce. These include:

1. White sugar or refined sugar: Refined means that it is has gone through a lot or processing to get rid of its natural colour, taste, nutrients and benefits; in other words, it’s void of nutrition. Then chemicals are used to bleach and process to white sugar, so not only the nutrients are removed, chemicals are added to the food you are consuming. 

2. Brown sugar: Many people think brown sugar must be healthier than white sugar because of its colour. In reality however, brown sugar is just refined white sugar with molasses added back in! It is still the same highly processed ingredient.

3. Raw sugar: The term “Raw” can be very misleading. Raw sugar has also been processed numerous times to only be crystallized in the end. It is still a little brown in colour but far from its original whole foods state.

4. High fructose corn syrup (Also called glucose/fructose in Canada): Comes mostly from GMO (Genetically Modified Organisms) corn. Our sugar consumption has dropped from 100 lbs per person a year to 64 lbs per person. But our consumption of corn sweeteners has gone from about 20 lbs per person to more then 80 lbs per year! Our total intake of sugar is now about 150 lbs per person per year- almost 0.5 lbs per day! 

So now you must be wondering: What can I use instead?

Here’s 9 alternatives that are healthier and closer to nature and loaded with their natural nutrients:

1. Coconut sugar or coconut sap: Coconut sap is heated to evaporate the water content and reduce it to usable granules. It is nutritious and it can be found at most health food stores or bulk and wholesale stores at a low cost. 

2. Pure maple syrup: The darker it is, the richer in nutrients; Look for grade 2 or 3 are the best choices. Maple syrup is loaded with vitamins and minerals and it can be used in place of sugar for almost any recipe.

3. Pure unpasteurized local honey: Local honey can actually help with seasonal allergies! It is packed with nutrients, has antimicrobial properties and contains essential enzymes to help with digestion and more.

4. Natural pure fruit juice: A great source of natural sugar and can be used in baking or cooking. 

5. Molasses: A by-product of sugar production;  Blackstrap molasses is rich in iron and calcium, as well as chromium (which can help control blood sugar). 

6. Brown rice syrup: Made from boiling brown rice; It is gluten free and wheat free and can be used in cooking or baking.

7. Stevia: An all natural herb that is about 300 times sweeter then sugar. It low on the glycemic index so perfect for diabetics. Tip: Some people find stevia has an odd after-taste. If you buy the whole leaf (at a natural helath food store) you get the sweetness without the after-taste. 

8. Xylitol: A sweetener found naturally in fruits and vegetables as well as being synthesized by our own bodies. It is a healthier alternative to aspartame, with only a few calories and can help reduce the chances of dental caries. It helps reduce caries by up to 33% with regular use and is helpful for re-mineralization.

9. Date sugar: from dates. The fruit is dehydrated and ground to produce the sugar. 

Reducing sugar in our diet can be very difficult because it is highly addictive and it gives us immediate pleasure. Reducing it requires effort but it is the key to better health for us and for our children! By replacing the refined versions with whole natural alternatives, this shift becomes much easier, and creates long term benefits!

Enroll now to our Whole Foods Lifestyle System at www.bundlesofenergy.ca to receive hundreds of cookie, cake, snack and many more recipes using natural sugars. 

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