Ways to cut sugar out of your diet
Is Sugar Harmful?
Why would I want to cut sugar out of my diet? Well, these days we have entirely too much sugar in our diet and it is wreaking havoc on our bodies. Sugar contributes to all different kinds of diseases and it has harmful effects on your metabolism.
- It has empty calories, which means the calories sugar does have, it has no nutrient bases in it. Sugar doesn’t have any vitamins or minerals nor any proteins or essential fats so obviously this isn’t a nutrient dense food. It decays the teeth by serving the harmful bacteria in the mouth and introduces us to the inevitable cavity.
- Research has shown time and time again that that sugar can contribute to cancer due to its harmful effects on metabolism and consuming sugar also produces inflammation in the body. Did you know sugar also affects the skin? Yes, when there is excessive sugar in your bloodstream, it fastens to the proteins in your body as well as your skin’s collagen and elastin. This damages the cells within your skin which then contributes to flabby skin, wrinkles, and aging skin.
- Besides being harmful to your body, sugar is extremely addictive. Just like other abusive drugs, sugar causes a release of dopamine in the reward center of the brain so in other words in this center the sugar stimulate the neurotransmitter dopamine, and dopamine initiates reward so those with susceptibilities will keep craving it. Soda has loads of sugar besides caffeine so this is why many have addictions to soda.
I occasionally wonder if the food industry has produced a need and a want for sugar, that way we keep buying more sugar laced foods from them repeatedly. Now that’s customer retention! Think about this, fast foods, soda, juices, candy, pastries, breads and processed foods have excess sugar because the food industry is undoubtedly most highly aware that when they add it, we buy more.
How do we know how much sugar we are really eating?
Do you have any clue of how many teaspoons of sugar you consume in a day? The average American today gets a whopping 22 teaspoons a day! This is way too much, so let me explain exactly how you can tell the amount of sugar you consume. Women should ideally be consuming about 6 teaspoons daily and men about 9 teaspoons daily, that's it!
One teaspoon of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar, so to help you visualize this just go to your fridge or cabinet. Get out a child’s juice box, or a can of soda, ketchup, BBQ sauce, salad dressing, yogurt, a bagel, box of cereal, pop-tarts, a Snapple or even a jar of spaghetti sauce, now turn it to the label of nutrition facts and search for sugar and it will list the grams. So let’s say it has 16 grams of sugar in a serving of juice that means it has 4 teaspoons of sugar in those 16 grams! For every 4 grams of sugar it equals 1 teaspoon of sugar and in this case 16 grams of sugar has 4 teaspoons. (4x4=16) .
Try to get into the habit of seeking out how many grams of sugar are in the products that you are consuming, for this keeps you very aware! Just by this you can begin to understand why there is so much obesity, cancer and diabetes in this world today and possibly prevent some adverse health effects in our own body.
What are the top 5 healthy alternatives for sugar?
These healthy substitutes might be better for you but you still need to use them in moderation because anything sweet can still have some fructose in it and of course calories. There’s no evidence that using an alternative sweetener diminishes you sweet tooth cravings, just remember this. The list below for sugar alternatives is based on better health benefits along with good taste.
- Raw Honey- This doesn’t mean the commercial honey (the one you buy normally in grocery aisle)-this is real raw honey. It is rich in nutrients and contains potent antioxidants, natural vitamins, enzymes, and has almost no processing done (it is not heated and pasteurized which means it doesn’t lose its vital nutrients). Raw honey can also stabilize your blood pressure and contains anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties. It promotes body and digestive health and can be used as an expectorant when you have a cold. Local raw honey can be the ultimate natural sweetener, it possess great health benefits instead of your granulated sugar! (Please note-never give raw honey to infants ever! It can cause Infant Botulism caused by bacteria. Their digestive tracts aren’t mature enough to handle the prevention of botulism spores from thriving in the stomach).
- Stevia- This has been touted by many as a great alternative to sugar and it’s a natural source. This natural sweetener has no carbs or calories in it and doesn’t raise the blood sugar. It is much sweeter than sugar as well. They say it’s 200 times sweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way. You can even grow your own Stevia plant. It can be purchased in dry leaves, drops, or powder and has shown very few adverse effects on the health by the consumer. Stevia basically has zero calories and has an extremely low glycemic index and helps with weight management. Some studies suggest stevia might cause low blood pressure or interfere with anti-inflammatory drugs so I’d advised to talk to your physician if you are on blood pressure meds or any meds just in case, if want to use stevia. Stevia doesn’t caramelize like sugar does, so it’s not good to use in recipes calling for browning sugar, like your apple pie crust won’t work with Stevia. Some say it has a bitter after taste and I personally don’t use this much in my home except the occasional stevia vanilla drops in a smoothie. (Please note:-there is a product called Truvia on the market that has stevia in it but I personally do not recommend it. I have read and researched that there’s a 40-step patented procedure they use to make Truvia, and it contains other ingredients in it besides stevia)
- Coconut Sugar-This sugar is extracted from a cut that is made on the flower of the coconut palm and the liquid sap is collected into containers. Next the sap is positioned under heat until most of the water has evaporated, which then final product called coconut sugar is left. It contains the minerals Potassium, Calcium, Iron, and Zinc. Also it has some short chain fatty acids, polyphenols and antioxidants. The taste is like sweet brown sugar and has been said it has a lower fructose amount. Coconut sugar has some health benefits where sugar does not. The industrial process is more natural as well. (When shopping for coconut sugar, be very careful to read labels. some brands may be mixed with cane sugar and other ingredients. Coconut sugar is personally one of my favorites and has been used in my household the last 5 years. We use a trusted brand called “Coconut Secret Raw Coconut Crystals”.)
- Date sugar- This has no additives; it’s natural and has a high potassium content plus some antioxidants. This is made by dehydrating the dates then they are grounded into a grainy powder. Be cautious with this sugar because it does have a higher fructose percentage then the other healthy alternatives but due to its raw processing has some health benefits. It retains the dates natural fiber vitamins and minerals, plus the tannins and flavonoids. This kind of sugar is best used in baking muffins or cakes and bread and you just blend it thoroughly for it to work well. It doesn’t melt well in liquids so don’t put it in your coffee or tea. I usually use this when brown sugar is called for in a recipe if that helps. If you ever ate a yummy medjool date before, then you will know just how sweet this sugar tastes.
- Pure Maple Syrup- It is the collected sap from maple trees. The syrup comes from boiling the sap until the water evaporates which then leaves the concentrated syrup(consistency of sweet taffy like) in various grades to occur, determining on its taste and the color. You can choose varying degrees of Grade A or Grade B and the grades are based on the colors. Grade B tends to be darker and I prefer this one but it depends on your preference. Grade B has more caramel undertones and I like it better. Maple syrup is packed with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds and it is nutrient rich. The syrup also contains a host of polyphenol compounds and has Vitamins B6, Riboflavin, Thiamin and Niacin. Pure organic maple syrup is an outstanding source of manganese which helps the bones stay strong plus assists in restoring muscle and damaged cells. Another aspect I like about using this syrup is it’s ecological. It has been proven the tapped trees live just as long as other trees and extracting the sap doesn’t hurt the tree.
Do you use sugar, sugar alternatives or both?
Please note that I am not a medical doctor so I cannot offer medical advice nor diagnose or cure, please always consult your physician when in question. However I’m happy to offer you suggestions for possible enhancements to your health per my research and what I have learned as a Health Coach. I want to educate you the best possible way so you can be equipped with superlative information and make healthy decisions for yourself as you see fit, for this is my sole purpose.