Sugar Comes in Many Disguises

incoming sugar overloadByline: Lana Shay

Brownies, cupcakes, tiramisu, and caramel macchiato, oh my! We are all too familiar with these sweet, sweet treats that tantalize the taste buds. What comes to mind when you hear the word sugar? Do you have visions of your favorite dessert as your mouth waters? Or are you the one who declines when the dessert menu is offered after a meal? It’s undeniable that when we consume sugar, we feel that rush of bliss when our craving is satisfied.

Only a few years ago, my husband Joe and I would go on frequent late night missions for Newman-O’s (the Oreo alternative) and soy milk. What is it about milk and cookies that is so enticing?! On an average weekday we’d be working diligently from home, and having a productive and inspired day. Dinner was generally simple and consisted of brightly colored veggies and plant-based protein. We’d end our meal feeling satisfied, yet we’d finish the dishes and the craving would erupt! One of us would volunteer to make a quick trip to the local grocery store to get the sugar fix. I recall literally feeling an uncontrollable pull to the grocery store. It was as if the day would not, could not, go on without the cookies. Our minds were fixated on the sweet tooth mission.

Have you ever experienced the uncontrollable urge to get your sugar fix?

Why couldn’t we deny our after dinner cookie craving? Like anything, it wasn’t impossible to escape the sugar craving. However, research suggests that refined sugar is highly addictive, and some studies reveal that it is more addictive than cocaine. It acts on the reward signals in the brain, which leads to addiction in the same way narcotics do. Considering this, it’s no wonder that we would find ourselves racing to the store for the cookies after dinner.

In a 2012 article published in the journal Nature, it was stated that sugar is a toxic substance and should be regulated like tobacco and alcohol! This may seem extreme, yet the truth is that the chemical-intensive process to create sugar results in a product with no benefit for the human body. It provides only empty calories and no nutritional value. Over-consumption of refined sugar is not only addictive, it has been linked to many physical issues and can be detrimental to overall health. Weight gain is one inevitable result of excess sugar consumption. What is excess? Well, I believe it’s important to note how you feel, both physically and mentally after a dose of sugar, whether heavy or miniscule.

If the cookie craving that Joe and I experienced is familiar to you, you’re probably wondering what to do now, right? First, don’t worry one bit about that cookie you ate the other day. You’re certainly not doomed, and there are solutions.

Different Types of Sugar

Before considering alternatives to satisfy your sweet tooth, it’s important to identify the sugar in your food. Sweet comes in many forms-maybe you’ll recognize a few:

  • Agave Nectar
  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Beet Sugar
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Brown Sugar
  • Cane Crystals (or, even better, “cane juice crystals”)
  • Cane Sugar
  • Coconut Sugar, or Coconut Palm Sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
  • Dehydrated Cane Juice
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Palm Sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice Syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum or sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado Sugar
  • Xylose…

These labels do not change the way your body processes the sugar. It’s all the same. Many unsuspecting packaged products include one of the disguises listed above. Our bodies truly do not need a heavy dose of sugar on a daily, or even weekly basis. Sugar from real food can satisfy that sweet craving while avoiding potentially harmful effects of the refined version.

You Don’t Need To Give Up Dessert

real food like this makes it easy to avoid sugar...nothing hiding in this meal!Just recently, I’ve found a new love for baking. It’s thrilling to share delicious sweet treats with friends and have them exclaim, there’s seriously NO sugar in this?! Dates are my first go-to. They are truly nature’s candy! There are many recipes that call for dates as the only sweetener. Stevia is another sweetener that is astonishing as it’s actually an herb! It certainly has a different flavor than your conventional sugar, but it can do the trick in a cookie recipe. Then there’s molasses or raw honey. Of course, indulging in these alternatives can resemble the effects of the refined version, but they are much better options by far! Even if you’re not into baking, it gets even simpler.

Nature provides us with the most satisfying form of sweetness. It’s the kind that also does a body good…fruit! Raisins, pineapples and bananas are all incredibly sweet and also provide nourishment for the body. All fruit contains sugar and is the best alternative to white sugar beyond a shadow of a doubt.

If you haven’t been the one to decline the dessert menu, you may be slightly more inclined with this information. The good news is, you can always ask for a bowl of fresh, juicy, satisfying fruit!
real food like this makes it easy to avoid sugar…nothing hiding in this meal!

A Challenge For You

Here’s your challenge: go for three days without any refined sugar! If you stick to real, unprocessed foods, it will be a breeze. The first day, have some fruit if you feel the urge to satisfy a craving. The second day, skip the fruit and the third day, do the same. If it’s easy for you after the third day, continue and take notice as to whether your cravings are decreasing. Make sure to leave a comment below to commit to this challenge, and make a public declaration. Extra points if you’re brave, and share a sweet tooth story (like my late night Newman-O’s run). Set yourself up for success and share this article with a friend, and jump on the three day challenge together!

LanLanaShaya Shay is the Sensual Foodist.  She believes in enjoying the food that ignites all of our senses.  Sensual food (aka Real food) is the secret ingredient to a juicy love life and having the energy to live each day to it’s fullest!  Lana is passionate about meeting french bulldogs, discovering new sugar-free desserts, traveling to exotic destinations,  and teaching couples how to eat orgasmic and feel incredible.

 

5 Natural Solutions to Eliminate Seasonal Allergies

Flowers smByline: Sara Best

Sneezing, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes – the hallmarks of seasonal allergies.

When everyone around you is celebrating the return of spring, are you silently cursing all growing things?

If you suffer from seasonal allergies, the pollen in the air triggers a histamine (immune system) response in your body. One of the ways to prevent the horrible symptoms of this reaction is to strengthen your immune system so that it can quickly and easily neutralize the allergens without causing such a dramatic (and miserable) response.

Here are five things you can do to boost your immune system and help end your suffering from seasonal allergies:

1. Improve Digestion

Since approximately 80 per cent of your immune system is located in your gut, it’s no surprise that this is also where a lot of issues around allergies begin.

One of the biggest culprits behind allergies is leaky gut. After years of abuse (poor digestion, undiagnosed food sensitivities, etc.), gaps can start to form in the lining of your intestinal wall. This allows undigested proteins to enter your blood stream, sending your immune system into overdrive. With your immune system on constant red alert like this, it becomes unusually sensitive to environmental triggers and the symptoms of seasonal allergies often worsen.

You can disrupt this pattern by working to rebuild your intestinal wall. For a period of 21 days, try eliminating all common food allergens (gluten, dairy, soy, corn).  During this period also cut out caffeine, alcohol and as much sugar as possible. Replace these foods with nutrient-dense and fiber-rich fruits, vegetables and clean proteins. Add in a good quality probiotic supplement and also look at natural sources of probiotics such as fermented foods.

You may find a significant improvement in your allergy symptoms at the end of the 21 days.

2. Drink Water

Your immune system – like every other system in your body – relies heavily on being properly hydrated to function.  Most of us are walking around in a state of at least partial dehydration for most of the day.

Aim to get your full 6-8 glasses of water a day – more if you’re exercising heavily.

Water with fresh lemon juice is also a great way to alkalinize the body which helps to reduce inflammation and support the immune system.

3. Antioxidants

Antioxidants are like booster packs for your immune system. They feed the production of white blood cells and antibodies.

Vitamins C, E and beta-carotene as well as zinc and selenium are among the most powerful antioxidants.

Great dietary sources of these include berries, green leafy vegetables, carrots, red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, green tea, Brazil nuts, citrus fruits, garlic and onions.

4. Sleep

Lack of adequate sleep can seriously compromise your immune system. The number of infection-fighting antibodies and cells in your body are reduced when you’re sleep deprived. In fact, studies have shown that certain white blood cells known as granulocytes are dramatically reduced after just one sleepless night.

Aim for 7-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night to keep your immune system in tip-top shape.

5. Cut out the Sugar

Processed sugar is incredibly hard on the immune system. Studies show that just three ounces of sugar can actually suppress your immune system within 30 minutes of consumption–a response that can last up to 5 hours!

SaraBSara Best is looking forward to graduating as a Registered Holistic Nutritionist from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition this May.
She is the creator of the blog If Your Body Could Talk where she is building a community of people who want to better understand how to listen to the messages their bodies are sending them and use them to feel great and love life!
Sara is a writer and mom of two and lives in Ontario, Canada.

You can find her on Facebook and Twitter too!

The Hidden Dangers of Sugar & Unhealthy Sweeteners

This is a guest post by Veronica Rousseau from Life With Nature.

Sugar is omnipresent in our food culture. Just for fun, next time you go to the grocery store, pick any of the packaged food and look at the nutritional label.

I bet that any food you’ll pick up actually contains sugar in one form or another. And while it’s not rocket science to understand that high sugary treats are not part of a healthy diet, most people don’t realize how much it can sabotage their health.

Why avoid sugar?

Sugar is a potent pro-inflammatory substance that has a significant effect on your body. Sugar stimulates a physiological chain reaction that provokes adrenaline and cortisol release, and thickens the blood. This means that eating sugary food can actually have the same effects on your body as stress does. Eating too much sugar could make you sick more often, as it might lower our immune system by interfering with white blood cells’ function.

Sugar is also one of the worst foods for your skin. It induces severe oxidative stress, which is linked to premature aging. Sugar also fuels cancer cells, promotes fat storage, and prevents amino acids to effectively reach muscle tissue. Over time, sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, which is linked to type II diabetes, and plays a role in many other health conditions including nerve damage and cardiovascular diseases.

What’s The Deal with HFCS?

High fructose corn syrup, aka corn sugar, or glucose/fructose, is basically glucose syrup made from corn in which about half of the glucose is converted in fructose. While fructose might sound not so bad as it is the form of sugar contained in fruits, in HFCS, it appears to be the key element behind the many negative health effects that gives bad press to this sweetener.

HFCS can contribute to liver diseases, get your bad cholesterol levels higher and can lead to leptin resistance. Leptin is the hormone in charge of telling your body to stop eating. When your leptin doesn’t function properly, you continuously feel hungry, no matter how much you eat. HFCS can also be contaminated with lead, adding to your toxic burden.

What you must understand is that too much sugar, even from natural sources like agave nectar or dried fruits, can have a negative impact on your health. That being said, life should be fun and so should be your diet. If you kill all the pleasure of eating, chances are that you won’t be able to stick to your healthy diet for very long.

The key here is not to demonize all sugar forms, but rather to understand the health impact they can have on our body. Choosing natural sweeteners with beneficial nutrients in it like raw honey, maple syrup, dry fruits, or stevia are by far the best option to safely satisfy your sweet tooth once in a while.

veronica

Want more tips to detox naturally and natural living info, plus a free detox guide featuring delicious recipes? Visit Veronica’s blog at lifewithnature.com. Veronica Rousseau is the health nut behind lifewithnature’s blog where she shares her never-ending passion for natural detoxification, healthy eating and green living.