Integrative Health Blog

Sugar: Hidden Ingredient and Healthy Alternatives

Posted by Julianne O'Dwyer on Wed, Dec 28, 2016

sugar_label_AdobeStock_36862095.jpegMost of us know that eating too much sugar is bad for us. Sugar promotes acidity in the body which provides a breeding ground for illness and disease. Rising rates of sugar consumption over decades has contributed to increasing rates of candida, obesity, insulin resistance and diabetes, adrenal fatigue, metabolic imbalances, liver toxicity, cancer, vitamin and mineral deficiencies and a range of health conditions.

When your body craves sugar, it usually signals a high level of candida, which provides an internal acidic, environment in which bacteria and fungus, and ultimately disease, grows. Unfortunately, most people don’t know how to combat sugar cravings and don’t realize that many of the processed foods they consume every day disguise sugar on labels with names such as high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, maltose and dextrose. When you constantly feed your body sugar, which is acid-forming, your taste buds can become addicted to the taste and crave more sugar! On the other hand, as you feed your body alkaline-forming foods and beverages, your taste buds will crave less sugar and you will feel better.

In this article, we will explore a turning point in the American diet, when the U.S. food industry started incorporating high fructose corn syrup into many foods and beverages we consume every day. This activity triggered a health epidemic as sugar became more central to the American diet. We will also discuss healthy alternatives to consuming food and beverages that contain sugar and high fructose corn syrup to improve health.

High fructose corn syrup linked to obesity & health conditions

High fructose corn syrup was introduced in the U.S. in the 1970s as a less expensive alternative to table or refined sugar.  From 1970 to 2000, there was a 25% increase in “added sugars” to food in the U.S. After being classified as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1976, high fructose corn syrup began to replace sucrose as the main sweetener of soft drinks in the U.S. During this timeframe, rates of obesity started to rise significantly. [1]

According to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consumption of high fructose corn syrup increased by more than 1000% between 1970 and 1990, far exceeding changes in intake of any other food or food group. High fructose corn syrup became the sole caloric sweetener in soda in the U.S. Findings showed that obesity levels increased over this period which demonstrated a relationship between overconsumption of high fructose corn syrup and obesity.[2]

The Fat Switch, is a book that shatters many of our age-old myths about diet and weight loss. In it, Dr Richard Johnson, head of nephrology at the University of Colorado, concludes that obesity is driven by eating too much refined sugar, particularly fructose, rather than by eating too many calories. Much of his research on fructose and obesity-related diseases has been funded by NIH.[3]

High fructose corn syrup in beverages & food
High fructose corn syrup can be found in soda, fruit drinks, infant formula, bread, baked goods, flavored yoghurts, crackers, cereals, jellies, cottage cheese, ice cream, coldcuts, salad dressing, candied fruits, canned fruits, condiments and cough syrup. Over 60% of the calories in apple juice, which is used for a base in many fruit drinks, come from fructose.

Artificial sweeteners more dangerous than sugar

Artificial sweeteners cause more harm than sugar or fructose since they can increase weight gain and worsen insulin sensitivity even more than sugar. They can be found in soda, chewable vitamins, sugar free cough drops and yoghurt. Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal), sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet ‘N Low), aceslfame potassium (Sunett & Sweet One), neotame (Nutrasweet) and other artificial sweeteners should be avoided.

Sugar disguised on food labels   

Don’t be fooled by names that disguise sugar on food and beverage labels including cane juice, dehydrated can juice, cane juice solids, cane juice crystals, dextrin, maltodextrin, dextran, barley malt, beet sugar, corn syrup, caramel, buttered syrup, carob syrup, brown sugar, date sugar, malt syrup, diatase, diatastic malt, fruit juice, fruit juice concentrate, dehydrated fruit juice, fruit juice crystals, golden syrup, turbinado, sorghum syrup, refiner’s syrup, ethyl maltol, maple syrup & yellow sugar. [4]

What are healthy alternatives to sugar & high fructose corn syrup?

There are alternatives to sugar that don't evoke a horrible sugar high and then leave you feeling terrible. The Glycemic Index (GI) is the standard measurement used to rank how fast blood sugar levels rise after we drink or eat a particular type of beverage or food over a 2-3 hour period of time.  Concentrated sweeteners naturally have a higher GI compared to other foods. 

Sugars that are released slowly into the bloodstream are low glycemic in nature and the most beneficial to consume on a regular basis.  Here are a few alternatives to try:

“All natural sweeteners” Contain Fructose So Controversial as Alternatives

Agave syrup: Agave syrup originates in Southern Mexico where Agave plants thrive in the volcanic soils. Its taste is comparable to honey and contains 70-97% fructose. It is 1 ½ times sweeter than sugar itself, which is why it can be considered a less desirable alternative to sugar. It has a low glycemic index (GI) but can lead to insulin resistance.  

Honey:  Honey contains about 53% fructose, which is not recommended. However, RAW honey is an alkaline-forming food which provides many health benefits including natural vitamins, enzymes and powerful antioxidants. Can be used when baking. Consume in moderation only after candida and other health issues are contained.

Healthier Sugar Alternatives

Stevia: Stevia is a member of the chrysanthemum family (closely related to chamomile and tarragon) and totally safe. It is made from the sweet leaf of the stevia shrub native to Paraguay. Stevia has around 300 times the sweetness of sugar and is very low in carbohydrates. Unlike many other sweeteners, it does not promote dental cavities or raise blood glucose levels, so safe for diabetics. Consider adding to hot drinks, dressings, soups, salads etc. 

Lakanto (Luo han guo): The two natural ingredients in Lakanto are non-GMO erythritol and the supersweet extract of the luo han guo fruit. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol naturally found in grapes, pears, mushrooms, soy sauce, cheese, wine and beer, so it and has been part of the human diet for thousands of years. Called “longevity fruit” because it is grown in Guangzi Province, China, where many residents live to be 100 years or older. It is 300 times sweeter than sugar. It measures zero on the glycemic index, so does not affect blood sugar or insulin release. It has no calories.

Xylitol: Sugar alcohols such as Xylitol are less sweet than sugar but not “sugar free”. Xylitol contains about 40% fewer calories than refined sugar because it is not completely absorbed by your body. It has a low glycemic index of 7, so has a minimal effect on blood sugar. It is made from the bark of a silver birch tree in Scandinavia.

Date Syrup: Date syrup is a natural sweetener made from pureed dates and tastes like caramel. Dates contain more potassium than bananas. Tastes like caramel. Can be used when baking.

Brown Rice Syrup:  Rice syrup is a sweetener derived by cooking rice with natural enzymes. It contains vitamin B, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin K. Can be used when baking. 

Coconut Palm Sugar:  Coconut palm sugar is made from the sap, which is the sugary circulating fluid of the coconut palm. It has a low glycemic index score of 50. It contains minerals, iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. Also, coconut palm sugar has slow energy releasing properties, so it sustains the body “highs” and “lows” caused by sugar. Can be used when baking.

Coconut Nectar: Raw coconut nectar comes from the sweet sap that results from tapping the thick flowering stems of the coconut blossom in Philippines and Indonesia. This sap only contains about 10% glucose, sucrose and fructose. It is also high in the polysaccharide inulin, a prebiotic fiber that aids in the process of digestion. Consider adding to smoothies.

Fermented Foods:  Many fermented foods are acidic but become alkalizing on the body after consumed including lemons/limes, apple cider vinegar, bee pollen, probiotics, kimchi and kombucha. These fermented foods create a more alkaline environment in the body which combats sugar cravings, heals the gut and rebuilds the immune system.

Alkalizing Foods & Water:  When the body craves sugar, it usually signals a high level of candida, which provides an internal acidic, environment in which bacteria and fungus, and ultimately disease, grows. Alternately, the body thrives in a slightly alkaline state. When you consume alkaline-forming foods and beverages such as green vegetables, sea vegetables (seaweed, kelp), grains (quinoa, millet & amaranth), seeds (except sesame) and fruit (berries, unsweetened pomegranate & cranberry), herbal teas (no caffeine) and alkaline water, sugar cravings start to disappear and health improves.

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_fructose_corn_syrup

[2] http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/4/537.full

[3] https://www.amazon.com/Fat-Switch-Richard-J-Johnson-ebook/dp/B009XVKUDE

[4] http://www.hungryforchange.tv/article/how-to-spot-sugar-on-food-labels

 

julianne_odwyer_blog.jpgJulianne O'Dwyer is a health coach at National Integrated Health Associates. Her own journey to wellness taught her how to regain control of health. As part of the Rejuvenation and Detoxification and  Health Essentials Coaching Programs, she teaches clients to support their body with proper nutrition, detoxification and lifestyle changes that have a positive impact on health.

 

 

Topics: insulin resistance, diabetes, sugar