Sugar: the good news and the bad news
April 11, 2013 By Billy
Sugar: The Good News and the Bad News
Believe it or not, when it comes to sugar and health, it’s not all bad news. The fact is, sugar is nearly essential for our health. It’s brain fuel – glucose. And a big benefit is that it’s fast-acting. Whereas carbs and fats can take hours to break down into fuel for the body, glucose is put to use almost instantly.
The bad news? We’ve gone down the wrong track with it. The sugar most of us are likely to ingest today is highly processed refined sugar. This kind of sugar produces a scary amount of wear and tear on the body – energy and weight are big ones. And it’s in seemingly everything. You’ll even find it in all those “natural” snacks. It’s in cereal, granola, crackers, chips, baked goods of all kinds, many breads, and virtually every “low-fat” snack you come across – aisle after aisle of them, even at your natural food store! These can be the worst since they’re constantly trickling through our diet.
But let’s focus on the good news and find a way to reduce the effects of 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. So let’s keep it happy. But let’s be smart about how we do it. We don’t need to give up sugar, we just need to use the right sugar – the elite sugar.
Where can we find the elite sugar that your body needs? Easy. The organic produce section of your local grocery store or fruit stand. Fruits are where the elite sugar hangs out. And the elite of the elites can be found in berries – blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, raspberries. Colorful berries. Remember that color is frequently reflective of nutrient density and quality.
And the great thing about berries is that they’re mostly low glycemic. This means they’re slower burning and therefore less likely to quickly raise and lower your blood sugar. Processed sugar, by contrast, is 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 or pineapple or papaya or mango are high glycemic. But they’re better for you than the processed stuff. In moderation, they serve a good role as sweeteners in a smoothie!
And then 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. Having a piece of fruit in the morning and again in the afternoon will keep your sweet tooth happy. You’ll be a lot less likely to grab a donut from the break room or order a sugar-filled dessert at lunch.
Even though with berries it’s hard to overdo it, most fruits, like anything in life, require some moderation. What qualifies as ‘moderation’ is different for everyone, but I believe in our body’s instincts when it comes to healthy foods. Here’s the trick – combine them with protein fats. Fruits and protein fats work beautifully together. Sugar produces quick energy, protein fats help your body sustain the energy. The protein fats satiate your appetite to help prevent overdoing the sugar. Mix fruit with yogurt. Or with nuts and seeds.
Think up your own combinations. A banana split? Hmm…think a little harder. How about berries and yogurt? Much better. Raw sprouted almonds (a superfood!) and prunes? Perfect. Apples and almond butter? Now you’re talking. Of course fruits don’t have to be eaten with anything else, but the energy you’ll derive from them will last longer if you add something a little more energy-sustaining soon after.
Since your body needs fuel first thing in the morning, nothing beats a smoothie when you get out of bed. Here’s my favorite: put a banana in a blender with a heaping tablespoon of yogurt and a heaping tablespoon of raw almond butter and your Infinity Greens. The energy from the fruit and superfoods will be sustained with the protein fats for a slow burn that will last for hours. The perfect low-calorie, balanced, nutrient-dense breakfast! You’ll be ready to face the world all morning long.
Then need a snack in the afternoon? Try a piece of fruit and some almonds. Or how about a glass of fruit juice? But beware of pasteurized juices, especially those bottled “superfood” drinks with gross amounts of sugar. Yuck. Stick with raw and fresh-pressed juice. Again, with moderation. Though it’s nutritive, it is sugar, after all.
Okay, so let’s talk about those processed sugars. They ain’t all bad. But some are definitely better than others. Let’s look at the elites. The elite non-fruit sugars can be found in raw honey or maple syrup. These are my top picks. Real maple syrup – tree sap – not the Aunt Jemima kind. I’m sure she was a sweet lady, but her syrup is little more than high-fructose corn syrup. Real maple syrup is rich in minerals. And raw honey has nutritive medicinal value. It’s an immune booster. Once again, mix these sugars with protein fats. Honey, yogurt, and/or nuts n’ seeds are a great combination.
Other middle of the road processed sugars include agave nectar and coconut sugar. Using a little in your tea, ok. How much exactly is a tough call because we’re all different, but use your best judgment bearing in mind it is in fact processed sugar. These don’t have nutritive value, but at least they don’t produce the same kind of wear and tear on the body as processed cane sugar. Do what you can to cut back on processed white sugar and keep it infrequent…a little dark chocolate, fine. Note – you can find raw chocolate sweetened with coconut. This one is my pick – Silvermoon Chocolate – nutritive in moderation.
So, the dilemma is solved. Your body needs sugar, and now you know the right places to find it. First thing tomorrow, make yourself a smoothie. Have something in the afternoon too. Throw the glazed donut away… and the ‘natural’ junk food too. At least read the ingredients before you munch on it!
Try this protocol for a week and see if you don’t have more energy and feel better!
And see if something else doesn’t start to happen. As with any healthy protocol, when you give your body what it really wants and you begin to feel the benefits, you’ll notice how easy it is to stick with it, how much you naturally will start to gravitate towards the things that make you feel great, and how easy it is to continue feeling great!
And that’s the best news of all.
As always, wishing you the best!~
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