There’s no getting away from it – sugar tastes good and foods that contain it tend to be irresistibly palatable to the average human being. But unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few decades – you know it’s bad for your health. Apart from promoting obesity and contributing to tooth decay, consider a few of the other damaging effects of sugar:
- Depresses our immune system
- Elevates triglyceride and cholesterol levels
- Raises insulin levels – and inflammation and fat storage
- Raises adrenaline levels – increases stress
- Contributes to nutrient deficiencies
- Promotes depression
We’re talking about refined sugar, or sucrose here, which comes from sugar cane or sugar beets and is also known as table sugar, white sugar, granulated sugar and powdered or confectioner’s sugar. It provides only ‘empty’ calories, as it lacks the natural nutrients present in the sugar beet or cane – all of which have been removed in the refining process (and we won’t even get into all the nasty chemicals that this adds). Worse – it drains and leaches our body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination makes upon our entire system.
Artificial sweeteners might seem a tempting way to avoid the negative effects of sugar as they are many more times sweeter than sugar and much less is needed to achieve the same amount of sweetness. (This is one of the reasons the food industry use them in their products – not because they are concerned for your health mind you, but because it’s cheaper). Hundreds of millions of people worldwide now regularly consume artificial sweeteners, but we have to stop thinking that they are safe – because they most certainly are not (plus they may actually contribute to weight gain). Here’s a quick look:
- Saccharin – linked to cancer in rats, the USDA attempted to have it completely banned, but it was removed from the list of suspected carcinogens in 2000 because there was no clear evidence it caused the disease in humans (don’t know about you but I’m not taking any chances). In Europe you can identify saccharin as E954 on food labels. Interestingly it is illegal to mail it to France!
- Sucralose – Also known by the brand name Splenda. British scientists discovered it by accident in 1976, when they were looking for a new pesticide – in fact it has similar properties to DDT! Quite simply it is chlorinated sugar and chlorine is a carcinogen. You can find it in baked goods, drinks, desserts, dairy products, syrups and condiments. Its marketing slogan ‘Because it comes from sugar it tastes like sugar’ was found to violate French consumer protection laws and judged illegal. Side effects include gastrointestinal problems, skin irritations, anxiety and paradoxically weight gain!
- Aspartame – Also known as Nutrasweet, Equal and Canderel (in France) , this is what makes your diet coke taste sweet (and many other things including yogurt and medications). Aspartame is one of the most dangerous food additives that exists and should never have been approved. The online documentary ‘Sweet Misery’ explains why. Aspartame is broken down into 3 main components, one of which is methanol, an anti-freeze, industrial solvent and known carcinogen. Aspartame is banned for all children’s products in the EU.
So where does that leave us? It’s quite simple really – If you want to make the healthy choice when it comes to sweeteners you have 2 options:
- Raw Organic Honey: an alkaline- forming food that has not been heated, pasteurized or processed in any way, so it is a full of natural vitamins, enzymes, powerful antioxidants and other important natural nutrients – the very ones destroyed in the pasteurization process.
- Stevia: From the South American plant of the same name. Despite the FDA treating it as if it were an illegal drug (it is currently available in the US only as a food supplement) and pressure from the sugar industry to keep it off the market (afraid of the competition), Stevia is a completely natural, safe, low calorie sweetener. If you’re put off by its sometime bitter aftertaste consider experimenting with different brands until you find one you like – it’s worth it for your health.