Do You Know what Sugar Looks Like?

It’s no secret–even the youngest school children know that eating a lot of sugar is not a good choice for those who want to be healthy.

But do you know how your body processes sugars? Do you know which foods are high in sugar? And what kinds of sugar are “better” than others for your body?

The good news is that your body knows! It can distinguish every substance you eat and it can make adjustments at the microscopic level to digest them and then readjust your body’ balance afterwards. Your body can tell the difference between refined and naturally occurring sugars.

When sugars are ingested, either in the form of simple sugars, or as simple or complex carbohydrates, the body digests them into glucose, and it results in increased blood glucose levels. Then the body releases insulin in response, and the insulin communicates to the body’s cells whether to use the glucose for energy or to store it. The simpler the sugar, the more quickly it digests. There is an experience of energy surge followed by a drop in energy, as the body rebalances the blood sugar to an acceptable level. This cycle repeats every time anything is eaten, and can cause the body to experience constant cravings, tiredness, and then cravings again. Although more complex foods break down more slowly, they will still eventually be digested into glucose. Any excess beyond the body’s immediate energy needs are changed into stored fat. With the gigantic number of processed and complex carbohydrate food choices in the modern diet, it is no surprise that there has been a resultant rise in obesity as an epidemic. Image result for free images of candy

What are examples of foods high in sugars, either refined or unrefined? Simple sugars which are in large amounts per serving include sodas, candy, energy drinks, fruit juice, and high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient in a myriad of processed foods. Simple carbohydrate sugars include breads, pastas, pastries, white rice, and others. Complex carbohydrates are foods like whole grain breads, brown rice, and starchy vegetables such as squashes, corn, beans, potatoes, and peas. A diet which supports healthy blood sugar balance will make a noticeable difference in the body’s overall health and ability to grow, heal, and defend it-self.

What are examples of “better for you” sugars? These are not easily determined, because food labeling is often misleading and nebulous. Additionally, the variety of terms for refined sugars on the market and inside packaged foods is seemingly endless. The processing of food is a huge industry and information about how refined sugars are produced is not readily available. Labels for certain types of sugars may have the same name, but different processes are being used for refining the sugars. Even the list below has products which have been mimicked. If they are refined or processed using certain chemical ingredients, they lose their beneficial natural nutrients, flavenoids, and polyphenols that are present in the true natural forms. The only way to ensure purity is to research and know the source and processing of the sugars you choose.

Some examples of unrefined sweeteners can include:

date sugar– made of ground up dates

palm sugar–made of boiled sap from unopened coconut blossoms

barley malt–made from fermented barley

monk fruit–made from a crushed melon

maple syrup–made from boiled tree sap

raw honey–made from honey bees

How can you support your body to maintain healthy blood sugar levels?

Begin by making a diet plan which limits your refined carbohydrates to 60-70 grams per day. Then eventually you can eliminate them all together and focus on the essential sugars instead! About the essential sugars, we will review next time.

Eat small frequent meals throughout the day and include a healthy protein, healthy fat, and fiber that are always present in vegetables when you eat. However, always start with the most important meal of the day – a good breakfast. Remember the saying: “Eat Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and supper like a pauper”.
Exercise on a daily basis and be consistent with daily hydration.

Know your sources of ingredients and focus on choosing a diet of whole foods, eaten in their most natural form. If possible, as Dr. Olga says “do not eat anything that comes from a box, from a can or from a wrapper”. This way you can avoid hidden sugars and many preservatives.Image result for free images of apples

——by Sarah Benson, BSN

Sources:

Nutrition News and Views, “Sugar is Sweet-Refined versus Complete”, J. DeCava, CNC, LNC, vol. 17, NO. 6, 2013.

Standard Process, “Sugar in Disguise”, Palmyra, WI, 2014.

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