I want to explain why I choose to use more natural sugars in my family’s diet instead of processed, refined sugars. I am not opposed to fruits, some dried fruits, 100% pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, coconut nectar and raw local honey. I will explain the benefits of each but first I want to describe how our body needs some sugar (as explained by Tom Brimeyer at Forefront Health, http://www.forefronthealth.com/hypothyroidismandsugarcravings).
We require thyroid hormone (T3), sugar, and insulin in order to store sugar in your liver. And storing sugar in your liver is essential for preventing and protecting yourself from hypoglycaemia. Because hypothyroidism sufferers can’t store sugar, this makes you prone to hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. Your cells survive by metabolizing sugar. And more importantly, your brain is the largest consumer of sugar in your body. Without adequate sugar available to meet your brain’s requirements your brain can’t function. It’s when you don’t meet the demands of your brain and cells that the real problems occur.
But first, what about diabetics? Why would a diabetic crave sugar when their blood sugar is elevated? Diabetes is not a disease caused by sugar. It’s a dysfunction within your body that prevents you from delivering the sugar in your bloodstream to your brain and cells. It’s like a dam. If you stop the flow of water through a river, it’s going to build up and pool. The same goes for your blood sugar. If you can’t deliver sugar to your cells, it’s going to build up in your bloodstream. So, while many blame sugar as the cause of diabetes, nothing could be further from the truth.
The important thing to understand is this… Sugar cravings occur when your brain and cells are starved of the sugar they need to function. And ignoring those cravings can actually be dangerous.
So therefor I am not part of the “I quit sugar” movement. Who wants to do that anyway? Boring right? What I have found is that the less sugary foods we eat, the less we want to eat them. Again I will say, stay away from processed foods! They usually contain loads of sugar. Especially if it says “low fat” or “fat free”. This indicates that it is usually high in sugar. As Tom Brimeyer says, if you are having a sweet craving, snack on some fruit. Now I am not silly enough to believe that this is always satisfying. For my family I still make them cakes, muffins and other sweet treats. For me, I like to sweeten them with natural sugars. I do use fruit and dried fruit. Obviously there are nutrients in fruit so I guess this is a bonus.
Another sweetener I use is maple syrup. It has to be 100% pure maple syrup. Not that maple “Flavoured” stuff. Pure maple syrup does contain sugar but it is not added to it when it is bottled. It comes from the Maple tree of Canada. A hole is drilled into the tree and a dark fluid leaks out and collected into a container. It is then boiled until the water evaporates and a sweet syrup is left. It is then filtered to remove any impurities. Maple syrup contains minerals and antioxidants unlike refined sugar. It has calcium, potassium, manganese, zinc and iron.
Local, raw honey is another favourite of mine. Raw honey is not processed in anyway and is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes and antioxidants. It also has antiviral and antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial benefits. Now don’t go thinking store bought honey is just as good. It is pasteurised and processed so you might as well buy refined sugar. Raw honey is great for the immune system, digestion, blood sugar levels and allergies. If you have hay fever, get to your local bee keeper and buy his honey. It introduces your local pollen into your system and helps build up a tolerance to your allergies.
Coconut sugar and coconut nectar come from the Coconut palm. Much like maple syrup, the sap is collected from the flower or blossom of the coconut palm and then gently heated until the water is evaporated until it is a thick syrup or sugar. It also has nutrients like zinc, iron, calcium and potassium and antioxidants. Coconut sugar has a low glycemic index due to its fiber called inulin. For these reasons I prefer to use this than refined “table” sugar. I even use it in my coffee.
I’m not saying that you can go and lather everything with these types of sugar. I only use a little at a time. But I choose to use a sweetener that I think is better for my family.
All of the above mentioned sugars have two things in common. They are not highly processed and they contain some nutrients. So before you go to grab the sugar here are a few things to think about. Sugar is 99% sucrose. An empty calorie. Sugar cane is sprayed with weed spray and treated with synthetic fertilisers. Just prior to harvest the fields are burned. During the processing of sugar, lime and phosphoric acid are added. A deodorising filter of animal bone char, granular carbon or an ion exchange is used to allow sugar to get its white colour. Most of us believe that Raw sugar is less processed than white sugar. Raw sugar is just white sugar with molasses added. The belief is generally that it is pulled from the refining process before it becomes white sugar. So it is actually not less processed.
In my mind, anything highly processed with additives can’t be good for our bodies. I believe this is why we have so many health problems today. If you want to spend less money at the doctor and on medication, stay away from sugary processed foods…