• Deanne Panday

Sugar or Poison?

All of us crave sugar, don’t we? And why won’t we? It’s sweet and makes everything taste much better. Thus, we know how difficult it is to cut sugar out of our diets. Although, it is very important to cut down on your sugar intake as it causes overstimulation of our system and might be addictive. The least we can do is eat the minimum amount and opt for natural alternatives. If you are going to eat sugar, make sure it is the natural kind found in fruit.

Now it is important to understand,

Why do we crave or get addicted to sugar? And what happens when we eat sugar?

When we eat foods high in sugar, the reward centres of the brain are activated. At the same time, a large amount of dopamine is released. This is what makes eating sugar feel so good. We tend to get used to the “feel good” factor. Over time and with an overstimulation of those reward centres, we develop an addiction to sugar because it simply makes us feel better when we eat it. Due to the powerful effects sugar has on the brain, it can be thought of like a drug.

Just like a drug is not good for health, Sugar is harmful and addictive too. Sugar is one of the major factors acting as a hurdle for weight loss. Added sugar is as good as poison. It lacks vital nutrients. It can have harmful effects on our metabolism and contribute to the development of numerous serious health conditions and diseases. Too much sugar is harmful to the body and promotes inflammation and diseases. Eating sugar creates a surge of feel- good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. You then become addicted to that feeling, so every time you eat it you want to eat more. Once you eat glucose, your pancreas releases insulin to regulate your blood sugar. Once the insulin does its job, your blood sugar drops again. Which means you've just experienced a sugar rush, and then a drastic drop, leaving you feeling drained. The equation is pretty simple: Excess sugar equals excess calories equals excess weight in the form of fat. Not only do high sugar foods pack a ton of calories into a small amount, but they contain almost no fiber or protein—so you often end up eating much more before you feel full.

Thus, it is vital to cut down on sugar.

Here are a few alternatives:

1. Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar is a great sweetener alternative made from tapping the stems of the coconut palm, extracting the sap and dehydrating it at very low temperatures. It is minimally processed ensuring it retains its naturally high mineral and nutrient content. It has a great toffee like flavour & colour and is considered low GI so provides a slow energy release for your body. It's rich in minerals & amino acids, making it an excellent alternative to cane sugar.

2. Honey

Raw honey is the ideal as it is a single extraction, single sourced honey

which hasn't lost its nutrient value from heating. Honey is also known to be anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory and has a wide array of vitamins and minerals!

3. Dates

This delicious dried fruit can be ground into a paste and makes a great natural sugar substitute with its caramel flavour. They're great for baking, sweetening smoothies and raw treats. Grind dates in a food processor on their own, or with nuts/seeds, before adding the remaining ingredients.

4. Stevia Leaf powder

This a great natural sweetener that doesn't get as much attention as the extract but should. It is simply the leaf of the Stevia plant ground into a powder. It has no kilojoules, no carbohydrates and has a zero glycemic index. In fact, stevia does not affect blood glucose levels or interfere with insulin.

5. Molasses

Blackstrap molasses is a thick, dark, strong flavoured syrup made from the extraction process of sugar cane juice. It has a rich, full-bodied robust flavour which gives natural caramel colour and tones when baking. Unlike processed sugar, molasses is extremely rich in the vitamin inositol, B Vitamins, copper, phosphorus, calcium, iron and potassium.

As mouth-watering as a sugar-laden sundae or icing-topped cupcake is, Sugar is as harmful as poison. Try including these alternatives to your diet instead of sugar and consume natural fructose present in fruits.

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