Sugar is the one thing that you would be hard-pressed to not find in a lot of food items available in the market today. It’s in juice boxes, in plain yogurt, in milk, and they have even found their way into vitamins without people realizing it. You need to know why sugar is everywhere and why sugar is the one ingredient you have to be wary about when you do your grocery shopping.
Cakes. Fizzy Pop. Cereals. Rice. Crackers. Salad Dressing. Ketchup. What do they all have in common? They all have sugar in them. Sugar is present not only in food that we normally associate with sweetness, it is everywhere. Try going down a single grocery aisle and checking food labels. Decide to put in your cart items that have very little to no sugar in them. How many items are in your cart?
It comes in many forms and under different names, and people are none the wiser about them. When you check food labels, you’ll realize that they are there in plain sight and people do not recognize them because of the many different names that it uses. There are over 50 names that sugar is called and the most common ones are high fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, glucose, fructose, caramel, dextrose, and maltose.
There is no such thing as hidden sugar because they are always in food labels, in the nutrition facts, and in the ingredients list. The key is to know what they are called in order for you to identify them. Sugar is literally everywhere and discerning how much you get from the food you eat daily is very important not only if you want to lose weight but more so if you want to stay healthy.
Sugar is often colorful, attractive, sweet, and dangerous
Sugar is actually naturally present in food. Fruits contain both fructose and glucose in them, usually in a 50/50 proportion. Fruits also contain sucrose, which is harder for the body to digest. There’s also the case about honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar that are derived from natural sources. But isn’t table sugar, the one that’s added to just about any food available in groceries, also naturally derived?
Fruits naturally contain fructose, glucose AND dietary fiber.
To begin with, while fruits contain fructose and glucose, they also contain dietary fiber that is needed by the body to help regulate the bowel movement and it aids in digestion. Dietary fiber also lowers the body’s cholesterol level and it controls sugar levels in the body by preventing it from being absorbed rapidly in the bloodstream. Not only that, it also provides a variety of vitamins and minerals that the body needs in order to thrive. Fiber also makes the body feel fuller so you tend to eat less. The calories that you get from fruits are more nutrient dense and are therefore necessary for the body. USDA recommends that an adult include two to three servings of fruit daily to keep up with their dietary fiber needs.
Honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar are all derived naturally and although they may contain more calories per teaspoon than your regular table sugar, this is offset by the fact that not only do they contain some vitamins and minerals, they carry in them antioxidant properties that are helpful in fighting off disease and free radicals. Honey is rich in antioxidants that helps lower cholesterol levels in the body and fends off inflammation. It is also a natural cough suppressant. Maple Syrup which is derived from the sap of maple trees, have a substantial amount of calcium, zinc, and manganese them among other minerals. It also has a good number of antioxidants and it also aids in digestion. Lastly, coconut sugar contains nutrients such as iron, zinc, potassium, and calcium and has inulin, which is important in slowing down the body’s absorption of sugar.
On the other hand, table sugar while derived from sugar cane and beets, is highly processed before it becomes the sugar that you are used to seeing in the supermarket. It comes in three varieties: brown sugar which has some mix of molasses in them, raw sugar which is the final stage of sugar before it is washed which creates the third variety, the white sugar. The amount of molasses in brown sugar are so small that the nutrients that molasses may impart in it are nil. Table sugar is high in calories but the calories are empty. They have no other purpose other than to make food sweeter. Because of how processed table sugar is, it has no other nutritional value other than a quick energy boost because it still is a carbohydrate. However, it is easy to go overboard with sugar because it is incredibly addictive.
Honey is a natural sweetener that contains antioxidants
Table sugar is highly processed and contains no nutritional value
Sugar has been touted as the legal drug that we don’t acknowledge. It’s served for breakfast daily, you usually have it for lunch, and you cap the day off with a meal that has it. Children have it in their lunchboxes and for snacks every single day, and funnily enough sugar is given as a treat when they’re celebrating birthdays, academic achievements, or when they’ve been good and deserve some kind of reward. Isn’t that interesting? Sugar is very much a part society’s everyday living that we no longer view it as an enemy. It’s a welcome friend, the most awaited friend even. You miss it when you don’t have it, you crave it even while you’re eating it. Doesn’t sound like something an illegal drug would do?
Infant formula has a considerable amount of added sugar which contributes to early childhood obesity.
People are very meticulous when it comes to the food that mothers eat while pregnant and yet we allow babies to drink infant formula from the moment they are born sometimes. Formulas often have sucrose in them which means that babies are introduced to this addictive ingredient at a very early age. Most infant formulas have high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, glucose, and lactose in their formulation which means that they are not only introduced to an inclination towards sweets, they are also put at risk for early childhood obesity and other potential health concerns such as Type 2 Diabetes. This is not to say that infant formula is not an option, -it is. It’s one of the best alternatives for breastmilk and the only point contention is the formulation of the milk that will be given to the baby. There are a infant formulas such as Holle and Hipp that contain the right sugars as a source of carbohydrates instead of using high fructose corn syrup.
As mentioned, sugar that is naturally present in raw food products is okay. It’s natural presence in food isn’t bad. In fact, glucose is the fastest energy booster that you can give your body because sugar is inside this big food umbrella called carbohydrates. Carbohydrates is needed by the body to perform, to move, and to essentially, be. But your body doesn’t need so much of it. It just needs a small amount in order to function properly because carbohydrates are stored in body as fat, and they are also present in and can be generated from other food sources. That’s why it’s such an issue that sugar is so actively present in our daily diet.
The World Health Organization has stated that the recommended daily amount for sugar intake should not be more than 6 teaspoons per day or 5% of the daily energy intake requirements. Americans take in a total combined average of 130 pounds of sugar a year, which equates to roughly 22 teaspoons per adult per day. That’s more than 3x the recommended daily allowance for sugar. Case in point: we eat sugar because we have become so used to its taste that we no longer know when we’ve gone too far.
The body has a natural security measure for when we take in too much sugar. They’re called the beta cells and they are found in our pancreas. These beta cells are responsible for alerting the body when there’s too much glucose floating around in our blood stream and our body then releases insulin so that it can distribute the floating glucose to where it needs to be going. Fructose needs to go through the liver first to be turned into glucose which the body can consume, while sucrose, being a disaccharide takes a much longer process to digest because it first needs to be separated into glucose and fructose. So imagine piling up all these sugar laden food in your body, what do you think happens? Your body’s natural defense and alert systems are brought into overdrive leading to weight gain, fatty liver, liver failure, and diabetes. Sugar is also considered as the preferred food of cancer cells which helps them grow and multiply.
Sugar can lead to many serious health problems such as diabetes, fatty liver, and obesity.
Sugar, being a pure carbohydrate, is also considered to be the major contributor to the obesity problem that the world is seeing today. For the longest time, people have been blaming fat as the reason why there is an epidemic called obesity that’s haunting even third world countries. They have pointed the blame at fat in general while they consume the one thing that’s actually raising their blood sugar, their blood pressure, and cholesterol level all in one go. Society has been putting the blame on fat when fat is actually helpful when it comes to regulating insulin levels and in managing weight.
The thing about removing sugar from your diet is that it sounds easy but in reality, it requires a certain level of discipline and self restraint. Much like withdrawal symptoms when you stop smoking or taking illegal drugs, your body reacts from the lack of its favorite treat. Withdrawal symptoms can include feeling dizzy, irritability, and mood swings. Because sugar creates a feeling of happiness when you eat it which plummets the moment the sugar has been fully processed by the body, you will keep wanting more of it. When you decide to cut sugar from your diet, you will feel a sense of needing a fix. You will feel the need to just have a tiny bite, a very small taste, just to calm down your senses that have gone haywire.
Fruits are naturally sweet and are an excellent source of nutrients.
Making your own juice out of fresh fruits is a healthier alternative to soda and boxed juice.
Luckily, there are ways to curb your sugar cravings without giving in to the call of table sugar. The best way to go cold turkey. Cut all things with refined sugar from your diet and rid your pantry of food products that have sugar in them. Read food labels so that you can be sure that what you have in your kitchen have no surprise sugar content in them. Go for raw food because they are so much better for your body. Create your own juice and shakes from raw ingredients and do away with concentrated juice mixes. Cook your own food so you know what goes in them. Learn how to make flavors pop without the use of sugar. Salt is a friend in this department because salt is amazing at making flavors come out. A little of it goes a long way.
Retrain your mind to seek healthy food options instead of grabbing that can of fizzy pop when you want something sweeter than usual. Have fruits readily available in the fridge for when you’re craving a slice of cake or a cookie. You can use these for making juice because they will still be sweet but with all the good stuff that comes with eating fruits. Fill your day with nutrient dense calorie food and you will feel that you will start missing sugar less and less. Working out will also help. When you workout, you burn calories. You appreciate your body feeling less sluggish and you will relate this to the time when you have been eating so much sugar. Being more proactive in your choices will help in staying committed to living healthier and sugar free.
Refined sugar is the trojan horse in a massively commercialized food industry. It is in everything and in anything that you can possibly think of. Fortunately, you don’t have to do away with the sweet stuff altogether because there are other alternatives that you can go for that will not leave you feeling empty afterwards. Making better choices will always give you incredible rewards.
At Lark Ellen Farm, we support your decision to live a healthier lifestyle. Which is why we developed our very own organic sprouted cereals. They go great on their own with a splash of the milk of your choice or as an addition to your fresh fruit smoothie bowl. You can even add it on your salad for an additional crunch. The things you can do with it are measured only by how creative you can be. With just 2g net of sugar using organic maple syrup in every generous serving, how much better can it get?
As we say here in Lark Ellen Farm, feed your body, feed your soul. The decisions you make today will impact your tomorrow. Choose healthy and live happy.
We created our products with your health in mind.
We strive to give our very best in every package that we make.