Most of us now know that refined sugar is not good for us. In recent years, we have learned that sugar not only contributes to weight gain and oral caries (cavities), but that it also contributes significantly to diabetes and heart disease. However, the scary thing is that these side effects are just the tip of the sugary iceberg.
This culprit can now be linked to problems with the liver (as significant as the damage caused by alcohol, in some cases), as high amounts of fructose can get stuck in the organ and not be eliminated. Sugar can also cause hyperactivity and attention-deficit problems in children – one of many reasons that most schools across Canada have removed soda machines and are offering healthier, low-sugar alternatives for lunches and snacks. **Beware of zero calorie drinks filled with aspartame, this is another disaster waiting to happen.
When we consume a large amount of sugar in one sitting, our blood sugar quickly spikes, and then plummets, causing our body to dump stress hormones (adrenaline, epinephrine, and cortisol) into our systems. This triggers our “fight or flight” response, and with nothing to fight in sight, we are left with excess stress hormones in our body, which, when left there often enough, contribute to chronic illness. It is not a pleasant feeling. Excess sugar can also cause mood imbalances – if you feel happy one minute, and angry the next, chances are, you could be experiencing a reaction to sugar.
How, you may ask? Excess sugar can lead to candidiasis (overgrowth of yeast), which can ultimately lead to bacterial infections. Bacteria actually love and feed on sugar! Ewww…
So, sugar certainly has the power to wreak havoc on our health. As discussed before, at Ki’s Kitchen, we prepare and cook meals that are refined sugar free and low in natural sugars. This approach to food helps our many clients who are dealing with diabetes, MS, cancer, and other inflammatory illnesses.
However, we do believe that the occasional treat is ok, so here are some healthier alternatives to white, refined sugar:
All of the sugar alternatives listed above are pretty easy to add/substitute to dishes that call for refined sugar. Generally, and in small quantities, these alternatives are easier for your body to metabolize and do not have the same damaging effects as white sugar. **Please note – coconut sugar is NOT a suitable alternative to any other refined sugar.
According to the Ayurvedic diet, which gives us a bio-chemical, bio-energetic, and bio-spiritual understanding of food, many naturally “sweet” foods like ghee, healthy grains and legumes, some fruit, rice, and dates, help to satisfy the palette for sugar. In fact, it is Ayurveda’s belief that the “sweet taste” (one of six categories), provides contentment and calm, boosts our immunity, nourishes the mind, and relieves hunger and thirst.
What is important to remember, however, is that satisfying this craving for sweet can be achieved by consuming limited quantities of the foods listed above, and by adding ingredients such as ghee or coconut oil to your baked goods (healthy fats help to metabolize sugar), as well as by adding a dash of cinnamon (known to regulate blood sugar levels).
So, you may be asking, “What do I do if I am addicted?”
As with many things in life, unless there is a medical emergency, it is better to gradually reduce the amount of sugar you consume, as opposed to going “cold turkey.” Look to add more of the sugar alternatives (listed above) to your baked goods, try unsweetened carbonated water instead of pop, and avoid processed foods and cow’s dairy products (milk/cheese etc.) as much as possible. It is truly amazing how much wonderful flavour returns to our food once we have reduced the amount of sugar we consume.
Naturally sweet foods can virtually taste like dessert, with something as simple as an orange, a small piece of dark chocolate, or a dish of coconut yogurt, satisfying our sweet tooth. Give it a try – we think you will be pleasantly surprised.
Thank you so much for visiting! I hope you have found some valuable information, if so, I’d love to hear about it!
Please feel free to share this post with anyone who might benefit, and comments are always welcome!
I look forward to connecting with you next time!
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From our kitchen to yours,
Love + Joy