We all know sugar is one of the three white devils of nutrition, but do we really know why?
Let’s start from the basics.
What is sugar?
Sugar is not a food group, and it contains no nutrients, no vitamins, no minerals, no protein, no healthy fats. Basically, sugar is nothing but empty calories.
Natural sugar is found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and it’s completely okay to eat them in moderation. But refined sugar, extracted from sugar beets or sugar cane, is more of a chemical compound than anything else. According to Dr. David Reuben, author of Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition “White refined sugar is not a food. It is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources, purer in fact than cocaine, which it resembles in many ways. Its true name is sucrose and its chemical formula is C12H22O11. It has 12 carbon atoms, 22 hydrogen atoms, 11 oxygen atoms, and absolutely nothing else to offer…The chemical formula for cocaine is C17H21NO4. Sugar’s formula again is C12H22O11. For all practical purposes, the difference is that sugar is missing the ‘N’, or nitrogen atom.”
Where is sugar?
It’s practically everywhere. You know candies, sweets, desserts have sugar in it. But if you check the labels, you’ll see that most foods from tomato paste and crackers to sauces and oatmeal have sugar in them. So if you want to avoid sugar, you’ll need to read the labels carefully and switch to a lifestyle based on foods prepared with fresh ingredients.
Why is it harmful?
- It can damage your heart, increasing your risk of heart disease.
- It increases your chance of having leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that tells you that you’ve had enough food and when you have leptin resistance, the hormone doesn’t work properly and your brain doesn’t tell you that you’ve had enough so you go on eating.
- The more sugar you eat, the higher the insulin level in your blood. This causes your body to store excess energy as fat.
- It damages your liver.
- It suppresses the immune system.
- It lowers your energy.
- It rots your teeth.
- It causes vitamin and mineral depletion. The body has to use the stored B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium to digest sugar. On the one hand, natural sugars found in real foods like vegetables and fruits contain the necessary nutrients for their digestion. However, refined sugars don’t. Therefore, regular consumption refined sugars or foods high in refined sugar will deplete B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium from your body. This, in turn, will cause fatigue, depression, anxiety and lack of energy.
- It increases your risk of having diabetes.
- It over-stimulates the reward center of our brain and is highly addictive. That’s why
its absence causes withdrawal symptoms like a drug.
- It causes hypoglycemia. The pancreas controls blood-sugar levels by producing insulin, which transports glucose to the cells for energy, and any excess to the liver for storage. The pancreas overproduces insulin when there is excess refined sugar in the body, resulting in too much sugar being removed from the blood. This low-sugar condition is called hypoglycemia, which eventually exhausts the liver, pancreas and adrenal glands as they try to keep your sugar levels in balance.
What to replace it with?
Chemicals like aspartame and saccharin are as bad as sugar, if not worse. The best thing to do is to satisfy your sweet tooth with fresh fruits. If that doesn’t cut it, go for organic honey, organic maple syrup, or stevia.