Our body needs sugar to fuel us but the processed white sugar food found in most processed products today is harmful. It can cause food addictions, tooth decay, obesity, pancreas fatigue etc . Did you know that sugar also hides behind different names? Then how do we satisfy our sweet tooth?
Do we need sugar?
Every cell in our body needs sugar to create energy to survive. This sugar is not the commonly consumed refined white sugar, it is the naturally existing sugar we get from the foods we eat.
Fruits are the most natural form of sugar.
Vegetables, cereals, pulses, etc have carbohydrates that are broken down by the body into sugar.
You don’t need to eat sugar to get sugar!!
Sugar is not good for health
You know sugar is not good for your health….but do you know why? We know a few reasons….do you think you know any more?
Sugar has no nutrition. The heat & chemical process employed in sugar refinery kills vitamins & separates mineral elements, protein & other substances from the sap, leaving nothing but pure sugar crystals.
Sugar is difficult to digest, it is called the vitamin thief. Its high intake can rob the body of vitamins the body attained by eating healthy foods, as they will now be used to digest sugar.
When we eat sugar, blood sugar rises sharply. Our pancreas gets overworked by producing high amounts of insulin to cut down this constant elevated sugar content in our blood. The fatigued pancreas fails to remain healthy beyond a point & is unable to produce enough insulin. This leads to diabetes though this may not be the only reason.
Sugar is not well metabolized / absorbed by the body. Hence, it gets stored as fat all over the body & this leads to obesity.
Sugar dissolves quickly in saliva & finds its way to the bacterial layer on the teeth. The bacteria feed on sugar & convert it to acid. This acid eats away the enamel & causes cavities.
Sugary products increase cravings. They reduce our ability to appreciate subtler sweet tastes found in natural foods like fruits and nuts.
Do you need more reasons to reduce your sugar intake?
Even then refined white sugar, commonly called just sugar, is a dominating part in our diets today.
Are we eating too much sugar?
Sugar finds its way into our body not only through the sugar we keep in our kitchen, but also through many packaged foods we eat. We tend to think that sugar is mainly found in sweet foods like cookies and cakes. But it's also found in many savoury foods, such as ketchup, breads, salad dressings and pasta sauces. Sugar is hidden in many foods that we consider healthy, like yogurt and energy bars.
Energy bars(even the ones labeled as healthy or natural)
Check the food labels of foods you buy. Sugar will either be simply stated as sugar or there are many names to it, the common ones being:
Fruit juice concentrate
HFCS (High fructose corn syrup)
Evaporated cane sugar
Making healthy food choices requires you to understand the food labels. When sugars are hidden unrecognizably in most packaged foods, it's a difficult choice to make!!! Be aware, know what you are eating. Reduce consumption of packaged foods and eat natural foods to get the sugar needed by the body.
Sugar is bad, but what’s the alternative?
Sugarcane is rich in nutrients, but as it is processed to make white sugar, it keeps losing its nutrition content.
The sugar we commonly use at home is refined white sugar. It is the most processed form of sugar.
The refining process strips off natural nutrients from sugar.
Chemicals are added to remove impurities, give the desired colour to sugar, to extend its shelf life.
As sugar keeps moving away from its natural state due to processing, it becomes toxic for the human body. It is one of the leading causes of the lifestyle diseases we see today like diabetes, obesity or heart disease.
On the other hand, jaggery is less processed. It is made from the same raw material, i.e. sugarcane, but holds on to nutrition lost in refining process of sugar. Hence, jaggery is a healthier alternative to white sugar. The other healthy alternatives are honey and dates paste.Vegetables which taste sweet like carrots, pumpkins, sweet potatoes and beetroots can be used to naturally sweeten dishes like halwa and cakes.
When buying any of these, always try to look for the most raw, un-processed & pure options. Buy dates and make date paste at home to minimise/eliminate use of preservatives & other artificial agents.
To sum it up –
Eat sugar in moderation as excess of sugar is not good for health.
Jaggery, honey, dates paste are healthier alternatives to refined white sugar.
When choosing honey or jaggery, go for raw, least processed varieties.
How can you cut down on your sugar intake?
If you want to reduce your sugar intake, these are the few things you can do:
Increase intake of a wholesome variety of fruits & vegetables. You will naturally get the sugar your body needs & also your cravings for sweet food will reduce.
Avoid processed food
Start substituting sugar by healthier alternatives such as jaggery, honey & dates paste.
Keep gradually reducing the amount of sugar you eat in a day.
Chapter – Health hazards of three white products. Book: Nature Cure. Author: Dr H K Bakhru
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