Why avoid sugar? How?
Sugar depletes the body of minerals and vitamins necessary for health. It is an anti-nutrient. Many doctors point out that it can cause chronic illness. We all have small tumors in us. If you feed them enough sugar, they grow. All tumors have a “sweet tooth”.
It is sugar, not calories, that causes weight gain. Contrary to popular belief, for health and weight loss, there is no need to count calories, but if you cut sugar, you can gain health and lose weight. The calorie theory is a myth. This is why no amount of refined sugar is moderate.
Do you go from one “sugar high” to another all day long? This often involves consuming either refined sugar, foods sweetened with sugar, or foods that rapidly increase blood sugar (glucose), every few hours, all day long. Note that refined grains, such as wheat, and alcohol can increase blood sugar as rapidly as refined sugar, depending on the individual. This “sugar high” provokes the pancreas to increase insulin, which then prompts the cells of the body to absorb the sugar. This aborption reduces sugar in the blood. This cycle varies with the person, but can last about two to three hours on average. At the end of the cycle, at the “sugar low”, there is fatigue. After more sugar, the cycle restarts.
Digestion breaks down all food to glucose. All the cells in the body require glucose for energy. However, to obtain this energy, you do not require an endless series of peaks and valleys of blood glucose from refined sugar all day long.
This is not to judge you nor to blame anybody, but simply to describe a physiological reality in a modern world.
Refined sugar, also known as table sugar, saccharose, or sucrose, is the result of processing sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum) or sugar beets (Beta vulgaris). Nutrients are removed in the processing.
Sugar is added to soda, milk, yogurt, cereals, and many packaged foods to sweeten them. Fructose is a type of sugar found in fruit. High fructose corn syrup is refined from corn and used in many processed foods.
Do not be fooled.
Sugar is an anti-nutrient. Again, it depletes the body of water-soluble vitamins and minerals, which are bound and excreted with sugar in the urine. The minerals and vitamins are necessary for your bones, for your nervous system, for digestion, and for health in general.
All food is reduced to glucose, but refined sugar rapidly increases glucose in the blood, provoking an insulin response. It forms acids, making the blood and tissues tend to be slightly acidic. An acidic environment can harbor pathogens, toxins, and lead to weight gain. In the 1930s, Dr. Otto Warburg demonstrated that all tumors have a “sweet tooth”. Of course, it is possible to study this endlessly, but is it not more practical for you to stop eating sugar and to substitute?
The problem is that, without knowing it, you may be addicted to refined sugar. Like cocaine and heroin, refined sugar is a white powder and physically addictive. It is added to almost all packaged foods in one form or another. Some doctors report that in brain scans sugar lights up the same parts of the brain as other addictive white powders, such as cocaine or heroin. The fact that it is cheap enough to maintain the sugar habit does not mean that it does not undermine your chronic health.
Sugar withdrawal can be difficult. It is not to be taken without a plan. Conscious, gradual sugar withdrawal is usually desirable. Good-quality supplements of vitamin B, vitamin C, zinc, and the trace mineral chromium may be useful to reduce cravings for sugar, according to Dr. Elson Haas in his book, “The Detox Diet“. Results vary with supplements. Some supplements are synthesized or contaminated with additives. Ideally, look for supplements from plant sources and reliable suppliers. Some people can cut sugar without supplements.
If you value your health and longevity, but are still not sure about sugar, then listen to this ninety-minute video by Professor Dr. Robert Lustig, MD, The Bitter Truth About Sugar. A thirty-seven-minute condensed version of Dr. Lustig’s lecture is here. Dr. Joe Mercola interviews JJ Virgin for fifty-six minutes on how to cut sugar cravings. Beware of agave syrup.
For many people, pure stevia is a safe, cheap, natural substitute for sugar. The fresh or dried leaves are truly natural products. In some countries, only the stevia extracts are permitted to be traded, not the dried leaves. One or two drops of a pure, liquid stevia extract is equal in sweetness to one cube of white sugar. You can also use the dried stevia leaf mixed with loose leaf tea. You can also mix powdered stevia leaf with smoothies and baked foods.
The stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) is endemic to Paraguay, where the Guarani tribe have used the leaf to sweeten their maté drink, similar to coffee, for thousands of years. In Japan, the food processing industry has used stevia for more than forty years to sweeten their packaged products. Physiologically, the difference is that stevia does not increase glucose in the blood, unlike refined sugar or even sweet fruit. As a result, it does not provoke an insulin response. On the other hand, if you have blood type B, stevia may not be healthy for you, according to Dr. Peter D’Adamo and blood type eating.
Again, pure stevia (stevioside) is found in pure liquid stevia extracts, which usually contain at least eighty to ninety-eight percent steviosides, often diluted with small amounts of alcohol or another preservative. If you are sensitive to preservatives, read the label and find one slightly diluted with alcohol as a preservative. If you do not accept even small quantities of alcohol, then you can make your own stevia extract with water as a solvent. You can also bake with stevia, either the pure liquid extract or the leaf. It is not sensitive to heat from cooking. Know yourself.
For some people in some conditions, no amount of sugar is healthy. If thr stevia leaf is not available, you can find pure liquid stevia extract in health food shops, usually in small bottles of one hundred milliliters (four fluid ounces) or less. Read the label. Look for a stevioside content of more than ninety percent with no additives, except alcohol as a preservative. (The commercial extraction requires alcohol that they boil away to produce the liquid extract.)
I use dried stevia leaf with tea and powdered dried stevia leaf in smoothies. I travel with the extract. If you use pure stevia, either the pure liquid extract or the dried leaves, you will probably find that it tastes exactly like sugar to you.
Beware false stevia
Beware of packaged products labeled “stevia”. These products, often found in supermarkets, are usually made of white tablets or white powder. They contain very little stevioside, the essence of stevia, as little as one percent or less. They are usually adulterated with maltitol, xylitol, or erythritol. To verify this, read the label. If the print is too small to read, then bring a magnifying glass to read the label.
These fermented “sugar alcohols” alter the taste of genuine stevia. They can leave a bitter after-taste to some people. Of course, there is no dispute about taste. You and I can never know what the other tastes except to listen to how it is described. There is no need to adulterate stevia with these processed, fermented substitutes. If you are not sure, then do your own comparison. Pure stevia is available in the form of dried leaves or a pure extract with more than ninety percent steviosides. Pure stevia has no after-taste for anybody I have asked.
Do your own research
Again, in some countries, only the stevia extract is permitted to be bought and sold. Trading the dried leaves is forbidden in these countries. The legislation is country-specific, and it can change.
Stevia requires a subtropical climate. Stevia is cultivated in Spain, Italy, and Greece. It also grows in Brazil, Argentina, Thailand, and elsewhere. Again, the origin is Paraguay, where the Guarani tribe has used it for thousands of years to sweeten their maté drink. The Japanese food processing industry has used stevia for more than forty years. There is less obesity in Japan. Could stevia be a factor?
Genuine stevia may have other advantages for your health, beyond substituting for sugar. Dr. Jan Geuns, now retired from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, researched stevia in detail. There is more and more research into stevia. Again, do your own research, or at least verify the published research, before you become too excited about it. Beware that genuine, pure stevia has very strong commercial rivals.
Why not cut sugar for a week, substitute pure stevia in your coffee, tea, or baked products, and then see how you feel? If you crave sugar, drink more water, use more stevia, and eat sweet fruit, such as apples, pears, or bananas. Carrots and red beets are also naturally sweet. These fruits and vegetables contain sugar, but you can excrete it without depleting yourself of water-soluble minerals and vitamins.
Sometimes, when you think you are hungry, you are really thirsty.
Is stevia too good to be true? Indeed, it is possible for some people to take too much stevia. For example, if you use two or more teaspoons of dried, powdered stevia a day, if you have accumulated a lifetime of toxins in your skin, you may cause your skin to itch. It is better to start to use it in small amounts and then possibly to increase the amount that you use. The fact that a little is good does not mean that more is better.
Some people claim that stevia has a bitter after-taste or a taste like licorice. They are referring to false stevia adulterated with maltitol, xylitol, or erythritol. If you are not sure of the supplier nor of the quality of the stevia, again, read the label, and beware of false stevia.
Regarding health via food, stevia certainly compares favorably with artificial sweeteners.
Of course, the concern about artificial sweeteners, such as saccharin and aspartame, is not new. They can be toxic for some people, even in small quantities. If you are in doubt, do your own research, and think for yourself. The fact that you do not notice an immediate does not mean that there is no chronic effect.
As Dr. Herbert Shelton MD wrote, “look for the truth, and your health will follow.” The truth does not always conform to the opinion of the majority.
Other healthy substitutes for sugar
In moderation, raw unfiltered honey, blackstrap molasses, or dates are also healthy, natural sweeteners for many people. Why raw honey? Unheated and untreated, it contains more enzymes, nutrients, minerals, and vitamins. These natural sweeteners indeed contain sugar, but it is part of the whole food. On the other hand, some people are more sensitive than others even to the sugar found in honey, molasses, dates, and sweet fruit. Listen to your body and not to your possible sugar addiction.
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Taubes, Gary, “The Case Against Sugar“, Alfred A. Knopf, 2017
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Preuss MD, Dr. Harry, “The Bitter Sweet: Recognizing and Resolving the Sugar Crisis“, self-published, 2017
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Sugar industry sponsorship of studies
Sugar Industry and Research
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Lenoir M, Serre F, Cantin L, Ahmed SH, “Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward“, PLoS ONE 2(8): e698, 2007