Getting sugar nipped in the bud for life-force and longevity.
February 11, 2017 By Billy
Dear Health Enthusiast,
The truth is, when it comes to sugar in our diet there is a huge amount of conflicting information out there as to what truly qualifies as ‘healthy’. It’s truly a vital question that is largely unanswered. In this article we will nail down the essential facts and the how-to’s on how to get your sugar intake on the right track for truly enhancing your health. You will find the simple, unadulterated facts about what really boils down to creating a healthy body (and mind), when it comes to sweet foods. However, that is not to say this is necessarily going to be easy, but integrating this information into your diet is not too difficult either, especially when you have the facts at hand! Believe that you can do this, and I’m confident you will! The fact that you’ve opened this email in the first place is simple proof that your health is a true priority. Success is in our genes, and there is no better place to apply it than to your very own well-being. So, let’s jump in and start with the upside of the topic!
Now for the Drum roll….
Sugar is important for our health! It’s fuel— aka glucose. And a big reason it’s important is that it is fuel that is quickly available to the body. While complex carbohydrates and fats can take hours to break down into fuel, sugar is put to use almost instantly. Now for the bad news. As a society, we’ve gone way down the wrong path with sugar. The sugar most people are likely to ingest today is highly-processed, refined sugar. This kind of sugar creates a scary amount of wear and tear on the body that needs to be revealed.
The proof is in the (over-sweetened) pudding –
The seriousness of this state of affairs can’t be overstated. Sugar, as it’s found in most foods these days, is much worse than people think. Since it’s so prevalent, most people just take the presence of sugar for granted without any concern how harmful it really is. The fact is, modern media has done an extraordinary job of making sugar look innocent.
Reality Check –
The weakening effect sugar has on the body really deserves a book of its own. The data is abundant. Do an online search yourself for the harmful effects of refined sugar and see what you come up with. Let’s spotlight the few most common. Obesity – stuffing fat cells from high-glycemic calories is the body’s natural defense to remedy the dangers of spiking blood sugar levels, from which comes… Diabetes – the body’s intelligence with managing insulin levels can essentially be nullified by sugar. Cancer – Sad but true, processed sugar speeds the production of mutated cells. Osteoporosis – With the extreme acid-forming nature of sugar, the body attempts to remedy with calcium, and yup, it’s the precious calcium that comprises our bones that desperately comes to the rescue. Digestive disorders – growth of fungus that can cause holes in the intestines?…ew, who wants that?! Numerous emotional and behavioral issues (especially with children) have clinically been linked to sugar. As for other vitally important mechanisms of the body such as hormone balance, immune system, and neurological system, can all be distorted by processed sugar. And the familiar energy-crash sugar essentially reflects all of the above maladies, making sugar a life-force depressant. This is a reflection of the simple fact that sugar makes the body weaker, thus more susceptible to disease.
What it is that makes all of this difficult…and the solution –
The big challenge in all of this is that processed sugar is in seemingly everything. You’ll even find it in all those “natural” foods, such as cereal, crackers, yogurt, baked goods, and of all kinds “low-fat” snacks—aisle after aisle of them, and sad to say, even at your natural food store. Even worse are the sweetened packaged drinks such as soda, energy drinks, sport drinks, and bottled tea. The manufacturers of these foods and drinks are clever, though. You won’t necessarily find the word “sugar” in the ingredients. What you’ll see instead is something like “evaporated cane juice.” What’s evaporated cane juice? You guessed it: sugar. And what really seals the deal on qualifying sugar as disastrous is the simple fact that it’s chemically addictive. The common thought is ‘no, not me,’ but it’s absolutely true. If you have sugar more than occasionally, I dare you to quit 100%, cold-turkey. A few days into it, tell me you’re not feeling an intense craving. Just a heads up – withdrawal symptoms are likely to come with it, such as fatigue and headaches. Essentially the liver, kidneys and the gastro-intestinal system are detoxing (note – this is a crucial time to detox your pantry too, via ridding all processed sugar). In most cases, this runs its course for one to two weeks. At the end of it, it’s likely you’ll never want to go back. That’s your body’s wisdom kicking in, now that the sugar spell is broken!
The Good News –
Okay, with all that said, let’s revisit the good news. Then we’ll find a way to overcome the bad news. Your body needs sugar, so let’s give it sugar. Let’s feed that sweet tooth of yours. We all have one. It’s a law of human biology. But let’s be smart about how we do it. A craving for sweets can be friend or foe. We don’t need to give up sugar; we just need to use the right sugar—the elite sugar. It’s about getting the sugars that come with benefits! We’re talking nutrients – vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes!
The Remedy –
Where can we find elite, truly healthy sugar? That’s easy: the organic produce section of your local grocery store. Fruit! This is where the elite sugar hangs out. Matching your sugar intake primarily with fruit is fundamental solution behind getting the whole dilemma resolved! There’s more to it though! Not all fruit sugar is the same! Some are indeed more health enhancing than others. Let’s cut to the chase and identify the elites! Drum roll…yup, you guessed it – the elite fruits are berries! We’re talking blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, to name a few. Color is generally reflective of a plant food’s nutrient content. We’re talking vitamins and minerals. And another great thing about berries is that they’re generally low-glycemic. This means the sugar in these foods is slower burning and therefore slower to raise and lower your blood sugar. Processed sugar, by contrast, is extremely high-glycemic, quickly burning and sending your blood sugar up and down and all over the place.
There are some higher glycemic fruits, too. Tropical fruits like bananas, pineapple, papaya, and mango are high glycemic, relative to berries. But that doesn’t necessarily make them bad. These tropical fruits still have nutrients and are in no way comparable to the processed stuff. In moderation, they can serve an excellent role. I find them to be perfect as sweeteners in smoothies. Somewhere in the middle of the glycemic scale you have the other fruits you might think of: pears, apples, oranges, watermelon, etc. They’re all good for you.
The key here is that having fruit in the morning and again in the afternoon will keep your sweet tooth happy throughout the day. You’ll be a lot less tempted to grab a donut from the break room or order a sugar-filled dessert at lunch. We all know the problem with trying to have just one cookie or one small slice of chocolate cake. Generally, the struggle for disciple turns into a landslide of overdoing it.
With whole unprocessed fruits, it’s hard to overdo it and the margin of error is wide, especially with those berries. But many fruits, like anything in life, require some degree of moderation. What qualifies as moderation is different for everyone, but I believe in our body’s instincts when it comes to healthy unprocessed plant foods. Deep down we have an instinctive sense of nutrition, a sense that unfortunately becomes distorted over time by too many processed foods, sugar being a primary example. But once you’re journeying down the path of healthier food choices, you’ll quickly rediscover this brilliant intelligence of the body. It’s there for you.
What about fruit juice? Well, the whole fruit is better. Juicing eliminates some of the nutrients and all of the fiber. Beware especially of the common pasteurized juices at your supermarket, as most are. And don’t be fooled by the bottled “superfood” or “health” drinks with overdose amounts of pasteurized fruit juice. Besides the high sugar content, the pasteurization process in and of itself isn’t good. Pasteurization is necessary for long-term shelf life; bottled juices might be on the shelf for weeks or even months. Without pasteurization, they’ll ferment in just a few days. Pasteurization means essentially cooking the juice, torching the nutrients, eliminating the otherwise awesome health benefits. If you’re going to drink fruit juice, stick with raw and fresh-pressed juice. Even still, fruit juice of any sort without the original fiber of the whole fruit is going to give you a burst of glucose. So unless you become physically active soon after drinking it, your body will store that fuel someplace that will be less than flattering. Thus my preference for the whole fruit.
Among fruit drinks, my top pick is a smoothie using whole fruit with its fiber and nutrients —an especially great choice in the morning. You need fuel first thing in the morning and your body will react especially well to a smoothie which is easy to digest as the gastrointestinal system is just revving up. Here’s my favorite: put a frozen banana in the blender with pure water and a round tablespoon of raw almond butter. Here’s where you can add in your Infinity Greens. (Very truthfully I am not intending to brag about Infinity Greens in this newsletter. Nevertheless the superfoods in Infinity Greens are nothing less than awesome, as you may have already experienced.) The energy from the fruit and superfoods will be sustained with the protein fats from the almond butter for a slow burn that will last for hours. A blend like this is ideal because the balance between sugar, fat and protein smoothes out the natural ups and downs of your blood sugar. Fruit sugars are infinitely better than processed sugars, but they still affect the level of your blood sugar. What goes up must come down. But a well-balanced smoothie with the right fruits and protein-fats can be the perfect low-calorie, energy-sustaining, nutrient-dense breakfast!
Now let’s revisit the processed sugars. Some aren’t so bad! Here are my top pics. Maple syrup—tree sap —not the Aunt Jemima kind. She may have been a sweet lady, but her syrup is little more than high-fructose corn syrup which is in the same category as white sugar, and is no better than ‘terrible’. High fructose corn syrup is especially common in bottled drinks. It’s a high-consequence processed sugar, particularly with obesity, and ironically makes up a significant portion of the average American’s daily calories. Real maple syrup on the other hand is rich in minerals and is perfectly fine when used in moderation. Raw honey has my golden stamp of approval. Unheated honey has an immune boosting, health-enhancing value of its own. Coconut sugar is up there, too. Like maple syrup, coconut sugar is tree sap. Like with fruit, you can mix any of these healthier sugars with protein fats. Honey and yogurt, for example, is a great combination.
Other middle of the road processed sugars include brown rice syrup, yacon syrup, and lucuma berry syrup. The once-popular agave nectar and sucanat are further down the totem pole. Sucanat is a whole cane sweetener that retains the original molasses, making it better than processed sugar. Molasses separated from the sugar is actually mineral-rich and is the one perk of cane plants. Sucanat isn’t as popular as processed sugar, because not everyone is fond of the taste of molasses. Plus it’s triple the cost of white sugar. Although it’s better, it’s still high-glycemic and not exactly health-forming. What about brown sugar? Brown sugar has a spritz of molasses added back to the processed sugar, making it no better than white sugar.
If you’re looking for a zero-calorie sweetener, try stevia (not Splenda). Stevia is a natural leaf with a sweet flavor and no unhealthy qualities. I recommend green stevia powder which is simply the whole ground-up stevia leaf. The common bleached stevia with maltodextrin isn’t necessarily bad, but the less processed product is always better.
What about Aspartame? Marketed as NutraSweet, Equal, and other innocent names, it’s been shown to be chemically addictive. During my years of teaching nutrition at the Ashram Health Retreat, I would always watch the diet soda drinkers have a rough detox experience. Diet soda is really among the worst things you can put into your body. It’s entertainment, not worth the damage from toxicity that comes with it. Xylitol – beware of it as a sweetener. This is sugar alcohol extracted from corn through an award-winning amount of processing. It might be okay as a flavor in toothpaste, but it shouldn’t be ingested as a sweetener, for the simple reason that it draws water from the body into the intestines, which is obviously not good for more than just a few reasons. Same goes with sorbitol.
Making it Easy
Your body needs natural sugar and now you know the right places to find it. First thing tomorrow, make yourself a smoothie. Throw the glazed donut away. Along with the “natural” junk food. (Read the ingredients before you munch on it.) Have some of that healthy sugar in the afternoon, too. Feed your sweet tooth with nutrient rich fruit. Why not have a pear, a slice of watermelon, or a peach? How about berries with lunch? So many options! Eliminate the sugar-filled desserts. Forego sweet drinks—soda, energy drinks, bottled fruit juices, pre-packaged smoothies, sweetened teas, etc.
For two weeks, completely cut processed sugar from your diet. Detox your pantry. Throw everything away that has processed sugar or “evaporated cane juice” or “high-fructose corn syrup”. And while you’re at it, toss the stuff with artificial sweeteners too. And please remember my fair warning: processed sugar, just like Aspartame, is addictive! That means that giving them up won’t be easy. No one knows how hard it is because few people try. But try it yourself and see. Believe it or not, your body will go through a kind of withdrawal. So it’ll take some discipline, but hang in there. It will be among the few best things you did for yourself. After the two weeks, any urge you have for processed sugar will likely be gone, or at least substantially reduced. And following our protocol of replacing processed sweets with the goodness of sweets from fruit will make the whole thing very doable. I promise you’ll be glad you did this for yourself! You’ll see.
In addition to simply eating healthier, you’ll discover something amazing. As with any healthy protocol, when you give your body what it truly wants and you begin to feel the benefits, you’ll notice that you’ll start to naturally gravitate towards those things that make you feel great. Don’t be surprised if you don’t find cake and ice-cream as appealing as you used to. Once you’re on the healthy, energetic, dynamic path, you’ll find it easy to stay on it. Such is the brilliance of your body’s natural intelligence. Pretty sweet, eh?
Yours Truly and at your service always,