Yes, you read correctly. Sugar is good for you!
But this is the catch… only in its NATURAL whole form.
Nature is wonderful! I mean… when you really think about it, all the fruits and vegetables we eat are like little gifts from the earth. These gifts have been specifically designed to include sugar to make them taste divine and invite us to consume them while providing us with all the vitamins, minerals and fibre that our bodies need to be energised and function at its optimal level.
The Low-Down on Sugar
These days, the ingredient sugar comes in many names and many forms:
- Processed sugar (cane and beets)
- High Fructose Corn Sugar (HFCS)
- Synthetic sweeteners such as aspartame (used as a sugar substitute)
- Natural sugar such as coconut sugar, agave, rice malt
- Organic sugar, and
- Natural sugar found in fruit and veg
There has been a lot of talk about sugar lately. And there’s a real movement to avoid sugar completely regardless of whether it is in its natural state or not.
And I find this difficult to swallow!
Did you know that ALL natural foods that come from the earth contain sugar?
That carrot stick that you are munching on has sugar! And so does your capsicum, potatoes, broccoli, even garlic but I’m certainly not about to give up my vegetables just because they contain natural sugar.
It’s a touchy subject for me. Realistically, how can we give up a portion of the food that nature intended us to eat? And what’s even worse, replace it with processed garbage all because of the misuse and excessive use of sugar and sweetness that has been extracted and refined?
So how does our body deal with sugar?
When you consume sugar, your body has two options:
1) BURN it as energy. WEEEEE!
2) Convert to fat and store it in your fat cells. BOOOOO!
What happens when we consume sugar?
When your pancreas detects a rush of sugar, it releases a hormone called insulin to deal with the excess sugar. Insulin helps regulate that level of sugar in our blood; the more sugar in the bloodstream, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store all of this glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells (aka adipocytes stored as triglycerides).
Now, often – when we overdo our sugar our body struggles to get that balance right. Too much insulin is released, which ultimately results in our blood sugar dropping below normal levels. This is called hypoglycemia, essentially a sugar crash. Our bodies respond by telling us: WE WANT SUGAR.
And so we crave sugar and consume whatever is convenient (and often this is refined, processed and synthetic) and the process starts again. Oh no!
Unfortunately, the more often this process takes place (the more sugar you consume), the more severe the blood sugar spike is, and the more insulin is required. This means it becomes easier and easier to skip using sugar as energy and go straight to extra insulin and fat storage.
So basically ANY sugar that has been extracted from its natural source (and yes that includes all the ‘healthy’ labelled alternatives such as coconut sugar, organic sugar, agave, rice malt even some juices and juice concentrate! etc) is potentially harmful to the body if consumed in high quantities. It can lead to excess weight and disease if not reined under control. And the synthetic stuff – don’t even touch that with a ten-foot pole – it’s seriously bad for you.
But what about fruit and veg?
And here’s where it gets interesting. Fruit and vegetables are designed to be naturally sweet to attract animals to eat them and spread their seeds so the plants can reproduce and ‘spread their seeds’ far and wide and continue to produce more wonderful fruit and vegetables.
These parcels of goodies contain essential vitamins and minerals that humans (and animals) should be consuming as part of a balanced diet. The water content and fibre in whole fruit means that you physically cant overeat fruit. Fruit, eaten whole, is filling, and it also means that the sugar is processed and stored differently in your body than if you were to eat the extracted sugar.
So I say, eat a well-balanced diet which includes plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Drink freshly squeezed juices only and sparingly as without the fibre it is easy to over-consume, and dried fruits – whilst yummy – should be consumed in far less quantities too as there is no water and again is easy to over-consume.
Eat real WHOLE food and eat simply, as nature intended!
Struggling to find the time to prepare healthy snacks?
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