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  • Writer's pictureAnn

Sugars - the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Sugar is the preferred fuel for the body.

Our body will use sugar first before it will burn fat-- always. Americans eat 2.5 pounds of sugar per week on average.

Body fat comes largely from sugar that the body has stored as fat, including storage as cholesterol and triglycerides. So, all forms of simple, refined sugar should be eliminated, especially if you are diabetic, insulin resistant, or want to lose weight. Forms include white table sugar, brown sugar, and corn syrup products. Any word ending in “-ose” is sugar: Sucrose, dextrose, sucralose, fructose, maltose. Fructose is not always sugar from fruit; Fructose is often derived from corn.

Here is a list of sugars that have not been refined and still retain the minerals that are required to metabolize them. They have a lower glycemic index and so do not cause the spikes in blood sugar that the refined sugars do. They are still sugars and should be limited; but they are a better choice of sweetener:

Raw Honey or tupelo honey, coconut sugar, date sugar, Agave, raw cane sugar (Sucanat), maple syrup,( grade B is better) tapioca syrup, blackstrap molasses , barley malt , Jerusalem artichoke (also called insulin),and yacon. Brown rice syrup is not recommended as it contains arsenic.

Xylitol technically is a manufactured sugar, but along with Mannitol, is a sugar alcohol. The Xylitol you want is extracted from birch trees, not corn, and has 40% fewer calories than regular sugar. It is used in gum and considered good for blood sugar and teeth as a bacteria inhibiter. So, put it in the “good” list.

The best choice is Stevia, as it contains an herb that does not impact blood sugar. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar; so, a pinch is plenty in your drink.

Artificial sweeteners include Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfame K, and Splenda. They are all bad and all ugly. They all have adverse health effects. If a label says “sugar free,” it still contains some form of artificial sugar in it. “1/3 less sugar” means the product has refined sugar plus an added artificial sugar. People think they will lose weight; but all of these artificial sweeteners cause food cravings and water retention for starters.

Aspartame: (NutraSweet and Equal) now is in over 9000 foods. It’s everywhere. Seventy-five percent of the adverse reactions reported to the US food and drug Administration come from aspartame. Aspartame is a neurotransmitter which allows too much calcium into brain cells and kills them. Maybe this in part explains the increase in Alzheimer’s.

Aspartame is made from aspartic acid and phenylalanine. In heat these amino acids break down to create formaldehyde. Many troops in Iraq have been poisoned by pallets of soda left out the desert heat. In fact, so far over 92 adverse health effects have been reported. Short list: poisonous to nerve cells, causes seizures, migraines, mood disorders, gastrointestinal issues, birth defects, and brain cancer. Need I go on?

Saccharin: Oldest artificial sweetener on the market. It is produced from coat tar and is 500 times sweeter than table sugar. Saccharin is not quite as lethal as aspartame, but avoid it.

Acesulfame K: (Also listed in abbreviated form deep in the list of ingredients on a label as Sulfame or with a similar spelling.) It is sold as Sunett. Acesulfame K reportedly affects the thyroid and is possibly cancer forming. All chewing gum in regular stores has Acesulfame or Aspartame as the sweetener. Children chew gum—lots of it. If you buy gum, get it from a health food store that says, “Sweetened with Xylitol.”

Splenda: Also known as sucralose, Splenda is a chlorinated sucrose. DDT is also a chlorinated molecule. Johnson and Johnson says the body does not absorb these molecules; but according to the Japanese equivalent of the FDA, 40% of ingested surcralose is absorbed. This DDT cousin can stay in the fat cells for decades. It is up to 1000 times sweeter than sugar. It is newer but also has a host of adverse reactions. Some of Splenda’s adverse effects include shrinking of the thymus gland up to 40%, enlarged liver and kidney, lymph node atrophy, reduced growth in children, decreased red blood count, aborted fetuses, and lower birth weight. An article from the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health discussed a study which found Splenda decreased good bowel flora and caused weight gain. Very few studies were done on sucralose. One of Splenda’s marketing slogans was “made from sugar so tastes like sugar.” Actually sugar’s structure was changed radically by substituting 3 chlorine atoms.

Hidden sources of sugar: Even things you think are health foods contain a lot of sugar. A fruit yogurt has 8 teaspoons of sugar. That represents 24 grams of sugar. I consider 24 grams of sugar to be your total allowance of added sugars for the day. If you have high uric acid, I suggest 15 grams. A soda can have 48 grams. A few of the many hidden sources of sugar include salad dressings, cereal and bread, Ketchup, liquid basting added to turkey, sandwich meat, and commercial vitamin pills.

Choose an apple over a banana. Limit dried fruits. And there’s no need to mention cookies, cake, ice cream, candy, and soda. Right?

Got to read labels.

Knudsen grapefruit juice says “100% juice--no added sugar.” Its label lists the natural fruit sugar as 29 grams for 8 oz. Much of that fruit sugar came from the added apple and grape juice. Total carbs is 35, but 29 grams of the carbs are in the form of simple sugar. Calorie count for 8 oz. is 140.

All food fuel ends up as a simple sugar called glucose. But how quickly this happens is important. Complex carbs such as whole grains break down slowly. Slower is better as the blood sugar stays stable. Simple sugars cause a sudden rise in the blood sugar followed by a big drop.

Compare pasta per serving: it contains 43 grams of carbohydrate and only 3 grams of simple sugar. You still get glucose as the carbs break down; but the digestive process for the glucose will be much slower than it was for the juice.

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