Sugars are hidden in many commercial foods. One must be a sleuth today to avoid them. They are labeled by different names so it’s even confusing to figure out what, if any, sugars are in there.
Companies care about profits. We should care about our health. No one is making you buy that stuff.
Companies put sugars in food to enhance food flavors so we will eat more and buy more. Sugars are now proven to create a transient “high” in some people (more in some than in others) and this contributes to wanting to eat more of what made you high. It’s even been labeled an “eating disorder.” Further down the day, you tend to crash. And wonder why.
I wrote “Retraining Your Tongue” with graphics for the whole family based on fighting back against a nation making food choices based mostly on how food tastes. I hoped parents would be encouraged to talk to their kids about eating foods that will watch their physiologic backs, not just eating foods because they taste good.
But what tastes good is learned! Addiction to sugar is trained. Parents eat foods based on sugary tastes and kids are our best mirrors. But kids raised by health-oriented parents who educate them on the benefits of whole foods usually enjoy the taste of natural foods. Natural foods taste MUCH better once you retrain your tongue.
In fact, junk food doesn’t even taste good after you get used to the great flavors of natural foods. Once you have eaten organic blueberries, grapes, or even broccoli, the inorganic comparisons are almost downright distasteful.
Contemporary sugar addiction, even though we are wired to avoid tart dangerous things in the ancient wilds, is an inherited bad habit where the body owner abdicates power to the tongue.
I live in Texas. The Texas palate is greedy for all things sugary. I have to remember to order my dressings and sauces on the side.
Some manufactured foods and drinks with seemingly “safe” non-sugar names, such as dried fruit and fruit juices, still often contain high amounts of “free sugars.” These are the sugars that raise your blood sugar levels and put you at risk of pre- and “frank” (diagnosable) diabetes. These are the sugars, that when eaten in excess, also increase your risk of osteoarthritis. And pain, fatigue, and brain fog. Even kombucha and green drinks may be dangerously high in free sugars, though some are lower than others.
This emphasizes (or screams in large font size) how much you MUST read labels as the amount of sugar you swallow each day adds up! And teach your kids to do the same!
It’s meant to be confusing. THEY want YOU to buy their food. To get addicted to their food and keep over-eating their food. But it’s YOU who does the shopping and the chewing! While your kids watch!
It’s not just grocery stores. Health food stores can be problematic. I have coffee many mornings at Whole Foods. This cool and intelligent engineer that acts in local versions of “Old Jews Tell Jokes” brings in his wife every AM and we chat and catch up. He says that he’ll eat anything sold at Whole Foods. He doesn’t bother to read labels because he trusts that Whole Foods does all the scrutiny and elbow grease for him. NOT necessarily so.
If you walk through Whole Foods (which I highly appreciate but still read all labels) you will be shocked at how many products have added cane sugar or dried cane sugar (still sugar), rice bran syrup (still sugar but now it’s also high in arsenic), barley or malt sweetener (still free sugars) and on and on.
It’s not easy to find foods in health food stores that do not have added sugar. Health food companies want sales, too.
The consumer has to take some responsibility. If you keep buying sweet tasting foods, they keep selling. Thus this crazy diabetes-obesity-kids who are ill and attentionally challenged—cycle keeps spinning.
I had a job writing a whole page article once a month in the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1980’s. I wrote an article so large it took up a whole page and then some. It prophesized about the upcoming diabetes epidemic. I warned that we as a nation were eating too much sugar. Add this to our overly large portions and sedentary ways, and all this spelled diabetic trouble ahead. I cited multiple studies.
I got called into my editor’s office. The then editor Michael Bauer said, “Devaki, I have good news and I have bad news. The good news is your article is stellar. The bad news is, you’re fired.” Turns out the Chronicle’s largest advertiser, back then, was C&H Sugar.
Medical guidelines say that daily consumption of free sugars should be less than 10% of total energy intake. In the UK they say less than 5%. I think we should strive for even less than that. Ground zero. You don’t have to be a sugar Nazi, but if you buy things that come in boxes and jars and cans, well, maybe you do. If you eat healthy most of the time, your body can handle some kernels of sugary kryptonite. But not if you are seriously ill or if your regular diet is consistently processed and wimpy.
10 reasons to go sugarless
Hope this helps you strive to use stevia and xylitol rather than refined sugars:
- Sugar, over time, ages insulin receptors. These need to remain healthy to prevent diabetes, to protect cognition, to help prevent cancer, and to keep energy levels Zen.
- Sugar is worse for the cardiovascular system than fat.
- Sugar is even more the culprit in gout than high protein foods.
- Sugar feeds cancer cells.
- Sugar sets up addictive eating habits.
- Sugar creates dental cavities, obesity, and even is a major etiologic factor in the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis. Too few realize that much of osteoarthritis is secondary to inflammation from sugary blood problems.
- Sugar makes you lose your common sense with portion control.
- Overeating sugar makes your hormones work less efficiently and promote more cancer. Especially the behavior of estrogen receptor alpha signaling, which is the main growth signal of estrogens. We need growth. But the body is put at risk if we have more “out-of-control growth” than “controlled growth.” Sugar takes the brakes off controlled growth.
- Sugar rinses critical B vitamins, especially pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P), out of the inside of red blood cells. This creates severe issues, such as cortisol out of control. Excessive cortisol causes excess inflammation and fatigue and dings all the other hormones, which all interact as an intimate family.
- Refined sugar promotes the “bad estrogen alpha dominance.” Since excess sugar rinses P-5-P out of the body, this makes the body lose one of its brakes on excess growth. P-5-P is a controller of the duration of ER alpha signaling. Too little P-5-P inside a hormone receptor makes for too long of an estrogen receptor alpha growth signal. It does the same thing with cortisol. Insufficient B vitamins promote excess estrogen and cortisol signaling. Longer duration of these type of signals can promote hormonally driven disorders from PMS to breast cancer in women, to man boobs and prostate cancer in gents.
Too much refined sugar is not good for anyone. However, there are plenty of recipes available that taste amazing and don’t use sugar. They contain healthy sugar alternatives (stevia, a natural sweetener discovered by a doc promotes better blood sugar control) or simply use whole fruits, with are healthfully rich in nutrients and fiber.
- Mercola has some stellar bars that contain no sugar.
- Dr. Rita Marie Loscalzos has a great bar with a super level of fiber that I especially enjoy in the AM with a steaming hot cup of organic bold, black coffee.
- Whole Foods sells Lilly’s bars—killer chocolate bars made with only with stevia.
- I publish, several times a year, the recipe for my to-die-for chocolate mousse.
- You can also use whole fruit to sweeten many dishes.
- Instead of buying expensive bars, you can dip walnuts in a dash of maple syrup, one of the healthiest sweet alternatives that takes no muss or fuss.
- For dessert at the end of dinner, try slices of oranges with hazel nuts presented beautifully on a cool plate. Or slice bananas, stick in a toothpick, and place creatively on your favorite plate sprinkled with cocoa nibs and hemp seeds! Tasting great can be easy and healthy.
Be creative but eat safer. Pass this forward. To YOUR kids.