Sugar becomes fat when we eat it! Particularly the fructose part of sugar. This is why high fructose corn syrup, HFCS, is so damaging to our bodies. Being comprised primarily of fructose, entirely processed by the liver and turned immediately into fat for storage, HFCS makes a huge contribution to obesity and related diseases. This prompts us to ask what foods contain HFCS. The answer - nearly everything that is processed including, but not exclusive to, the following: bread, condiments, sweetened beverages, cookies, salad dressings, ice cream, sauces, syrups, packaged and ready to eat meals, pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, cold cereals, granola bars, and candy. HFCS is cheaper than sugar and provides a longer shelf life for processed foods and is therefore the sweetener of choice for the food industry.
This video is a portion (episode 2) of the UCTV Prime special "The Skinny on Obesity". Dr. Lustig gives an excellent explanation of how sugar and fructose is metabolized in our bodies. If you like this video, there are 8 parts that you can watch through YouTube.
The Skinny on Obesity (part 2)
click here to view from part 1 of 8Sugar Replacements
Agave nectar is composed of glucose and fructose. Because of the way it is processed, agave nectar is high in fructose, ranging from 50-90% of its total composition.
Brown rice syrup may be a better choice as a sweetener because it is composed of glucose rather than fructose. The negative about this is that brown rice, particularly basmati, takes up arsenic from the soil and stores it in the grain. When rice with a high arsenic content is made into syrup, I suppose there would be reason for concern. To be cautious, you would want to use brown rice syrup that was from organically grown rice where arsenic was not used as a pesticide. My personal take on this sweetener is that it is a processed sweetener. I prefer things in their natural state, so I am inclined to discourage this type of sweetener.
Artificial sweeteners are definitely wrong for anyone to consume. Artificial sweeteners are chemicals, toxic to the nervous system, acidic to the blood and intestine, and sold to consumers without regard to public safety. 'Nuff said.
Honey The ratio of glucose to fructose in raw honey is nearly the same as sugar, 1 to 1. Therefore, we must not consider honey as a better alternative to sugar for its molecular structure. However, raw honey offers many health benefits in its cancer protective qualities, antimicrobial benefits and immunity benefits. Don't eliminate honey from your diet, but be aware that it is taxing on the liver and pancreas in the same way as sugar when consumed in unhealthful quantities. Processed honey has no more benefit than sugar because honey loses its antimicrobial qualities when heated. Consume only raw honey. Buy local.
Maple syrup varies in grade and quality, so the ratio of glucose to fructose is commonly believed to be 1 to 1 with slight variance. Maple syrup should be considered a better alternative sweetener to sugar in that it has some mineral content that would be advantageous. However, the same caution should be taken as with honey. Use maple syrup in moderation.
Stevia is an herb and is a very good replacement for sugar. It is important that stevia is used only in its pure form, without an additive artificial sweetener. Stevia can be used from its natural fresh state as cuttings from your planted stevia in your herb garden or as a dried leaf. When steeped like tea, the water can be used to make sweetened beverages and tea without any glucose or fructose. It is also sold in liquid form as an extract which is very potent and requires very little for sweetening. My caution with stevia is that a person might have a tendency to consume too many stevia sweetened foods without training the tongue to enjoy wholesome, health promoting foods.
Most alternative sweeteners, other than raw / organic honey and maple syrup, are not a good replacement for sugar. The best replacement of sugar is fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes!
Here is another interesting study that shows some evidence that HFCS could contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease - a condition of the liver where fat stores are bogging down the life dependent organ and which poses threat to its function.http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2423467/
Reduction of sugar sources in the diet
I encourage you to reduce your sugar intake for the sake of your health. Sugar addiction is difficult to overcome, but there are a few things that you can do to help make the transition easier.
- Keep fresh raw fruits available and ready to consume after you have eaten a nutritious whole-food meal. Keep them washed and packaged in snack sized bags in your refrigerator if you tend to overeat fruit.
- The use of L-glutamine supplement has been helpful for some people trying to break a serious sugar addiction.
- Do not consume any foods with hidden MSG - glutamic acid - under the names listed in the following brochure http://www.truthinlabeling.com/brochure_ad.pdf Consumption of processed foods, with glutamic acid as a flavor enhancer, trigger food addiction and over consumption of foods that damage your health.
- Avoid or limit other addicting foods which stimulate the pleasure center of the brain. These foods are: milk, cheese, chocolate and sugar. Replace addictive foods with nutritious foods like dark green vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, cabbage, squash, apples, grapes, and herbs like peppermint and oregano.
- When you are working through withdrawal symptoms, remind yourself that you are working toward a very positive health result. There is an end to the withdrawals and you will begin to crave more nutritious foods in just a few days - as long as you are consuming them as you reduce your sugar intake.