Sugar: maybe not no sweet after all

Ok. So we all know sugar isn’t exactly “good for you”.

Ok. So we all know sugar isn’t exactly “good for you”.

It makes you fat, can give you a sugar buzz and it’s not good for your teeth.

But did you know that the average North American consumes approximately 150 pounds (68 kg) of sugar in a year?! That’s the size of a whole person in sugar!

I know that may sound hard to believe but that teaspoon of sugar in the ketchup you put on your burger and the teaspoon in your coffee, not to mention the 39 gm in that can of cola can really add up.

These days, sugar seems to be in every kind of processed, or packaged foods. Don’t be fooled by other names given to sugar: fructose, sucrose, and corn syrup to name a few.

Even our fruits and vegetables have about 50 times the natural sugars they did 50 years ago due to hybridization of the crops (selecting, and replanting only the “sweetest” ones) which eventually leads to higher sugar, especially in our apples and carrots.

What must our pancreas go through in an effort to secrete enough insulin to manage this sugar load? Well, the increasing rates of diabetes can attest to that.

With diabetes or pre-diabetes affecting over nine million people in Canada alone it is now being considered an epidemic.

Sugar is also linked to not only children’s hyperactivity but to their learning abilities along with ADHD. In the book Depression Free for Life, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, who is both a medical doctor and psychiatrist, treats patients with depression by eliminating refined sugars and stabilizing blood sugar levels.

He has had a 90 per cent success rate. “If the body isn’t healthy, the mind doesn’t work right. Particularly with blood sugar levels,” said Cousens.

Researchers at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute have found that the same brain changes that occur with alcohol, nicotine, or drug addiction are the same as that of sugar dependence. With effects like this, sugar doesn’t really seem all that sweet.

And unfortunately that doesn’t mean switching to many sugar free foods available on the market today is any better, as their chemical sweetening replacements such as aspartame and even chlorinated sugar, or Splenda are not any better for our bodies and may lead to other major health issues.

So what to do?

The ultimate best way to go is to avoid sugar all together. But lets be realistic here.

First, and easier than you may think, is to avoid refined sugar. It has had all of its nutritional value stripped and therefore is a nutrient deficient food. If you must, go with organic cane sugar as a direct replacement.

It at least holds some of its nutritional properties. I like to use honey, pure maple syrup (sorry — not Aunt Jamima’s), or dried fruits such as dates or figs to sweeten things up.

These are all considered whole foods and at least have enzymes, vitamins and minerals to go with the natural sugars.

So as you delve into the Christmas season try to prepare your baked goods and sweets in their whole form and also eat them in moderation. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you enjoy a few, and don’t be afraid to find other ways to sweeten up your life!

“If you are bitter at heart, sugar in the mouth will not help you”

Here’s a sweet-and-healthy snack for the Christmas season:

Festive Popcorn Recipe

(from: Enlightened Eating)

4 Cups Air-Popped Organic Popping Corn

2 tbsp. coconut oil

1½ tsp vanilla extract (or the bean if you have it!)

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp molasses

1 tbsp cinnamon

Mix coconut oil, vanilla, honey and molasses in saucepan over low heat until completely melted. Add cinnamon and drizzle over popcorn. Serve in individual bowls.

Kristen Fraser is a Central Alberta freelance writer.

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