Newsflash: Reducing your intake of refined sugar can greatly affect your health and wellbeing.
In fact, statistics show a low-sugar diets helps with:
- Weight loss and obesity prevention
- Energy consistency
- Skin health
- Mood consistency
- Reduction of inflammation
- Digestive health and regularity
- Reduction in the risk of Type II Diabetes
The list actually goes on…
Headaches, fatigue, bloating, water retention, insomnia – all of these less than lovely things can be attributed to the consumption of refinedsugar.
Thus, we should cut it out, right?
But first, what is “refined” sugar?
Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. It is typically found as sucrose, which is the combination of glucose and fructose. We use white and brown sugars to sweeten cakes and cookies, coffee, cereal, tomato sauce, salsa, and pretty much ALL packaged products!
That’s right! Sugar is hidden in everything. Reading labels you’ll discover things with a shelf-life = things with sugar: crackers, bread, jerky, nuts, granola bars, yogurt, hummus, marinara, and sometimes even cheese!
Why is this?
Well, sugar tricks our brains into wanting more…and more…and more.
“Sweet foods are highly desirable due the powerful impact sugar has on the reward system in the brain called the mesolimbic dopamine system. The neurotransmitter dopamine is released by neurons in this system in response to a rewarding event.
Drugs such as cocaine, amphetamines and nicotine hijack this brain system. Activation of this system leads to intense feelings of reward that can result in cravings and addiction. So drugs and sugar both activate the same reward system in the brain, causing the release of dopamine.”
And, manufacturers know this – which is why refined sugar literally is IN EVERYTHING!
But there is hope. And, there is a sweeter side to life.
This is a tricky term. When we in the health industry say “natural sugars,” we mean the yumminess naturally found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and dairy. The sugars that aren’t super processed and concentrated, but occur in nature. Remember the elegant, sweet flesh of a freshly ripened peach? Have you tasted the sweet but savory magnificence of a tomato fresh off the vine? What about organic carrots, just pulled out of the ground? And, don’t get me started on fresh almond butter. Oh, and dates. Swoon…when was the last time you bit into a fresh date? They are truly magical – and satisfying too. The REAL FOODof nature is satiating and simple, and it makes us feel good – the opposite of addiction.
It seems a little easier to understand now, right?
Well, yes and no. Because the FDA works with food manufacturers and our society is all about money, the term “natural sweetener” is tricky. Highly processed sugars are now allowed to list “natural sweetener” on food labels without specifying which sugar is actually used: high fructose corn syrup, cane juice, barley malt, beet sugar, demerara sugar, rice syrup… all of these can be lumped into that “natural sweeteners” category.
So, what do we do?
Eat REAL food! Yes – fruits and vegetables and nuts and seeds and fresh dairy – the items that do not have labels – just nature.
And, one last word, as the food industry is catching on to the thoughtful and healthful idea of reducing sugar intake in the diet, certain produce items have been “criminalized” (carrots, bananas, etc,) in favor for low-sugar processed treats. Again, take a look at the list of ingredients in an Atkins Sugar Free Peanut Butter Cup (along with the array of different sugar alcohols that can cause severe GI distress) and decide if you’d rather bite into that, or perhaps a handful of almonds with a few dates on the side.
No one, NO ONE on the face of the earth, in all of history, has ever, EVER gotten fat from eating too many bananas or carrots. Nope. Never. Just eat REAL FOOD.