How This Staple ‘Ingredient’ Zaps Your Health and Energy
Do you reach for a ‘sports drink’ full of refined sugar right before or after a workout? Do you rely on candy bars (even those with peanuts) when you are feeling an afternoon slump? Join the crowd. More than 7 in 10 Americans eat too much sugar, sometimes for an energy burst. But the truth is that refined sugar robs you of energy (in addition to fueling numerous disease), it doesn’t provide it. Here’s why.
When you eat refined sugar, it destroys your body’s ability to metabolize food properly. It’s the synthetic stuff that kills you, quite literally. Sugar isn’t just empty calories. A researcher who helped the World Health Organization figure out just how damaging sugar is, said,
“Dietary fructose reduces circulating insulin and leptin, attenuates postprandial suppression of ghrelin, and increases triglycerides in women.” In other words, after you eat fructose, your body never gets the message, “You’ve eaten enough, now stop.” As for those increased triglycerides, well… another word for triglyceride is “fat.”
Guess which foods are highest in fructose? Soft drinks made by Coca-Cola and Pepsi, among others, canned apple sauce, bottled juices, cereals, and even some baby foods.
Natural sugars, however, at least have some nutrients in them. Refined sugars – not so much.
Refined sugar also leaches your body of precious vitamins and minerals. In order to metabolize refined sugar, the body uses some of its stored nutrients (like magnesium) to neutralize some of the toxins (toxic metabolites) that are released. These metabolites are great for destroying the respiration process of cells.
Refined sugar also causes blood glucose levels in the body to spike dramatically, causing energy crashes soon after. How does that candy bar sound now?
What’s worse, is that refined sugar is a neurotoxin. This is why it has been linked to neurodegenerative disease, to cancer, autoimmune disorders, diabetes, osteoporosis, kidney problems, liver disease, obesity, and depression.
Natural sugars found in foods have minerals and vitamins, which help the body to metabolize the ‘sweet’ better. This is why honey and maple syrup in moderate amounts are actually good for you. Raw organic honey has over 80 beneficial compounds, and real maple syrup (not the watered down junk at pancake houses) has 34 beneficial compounds. They offer a host of nutrients for that sweet taste.
The worst sugar you can eat is sucrose or high fructose corn syrup (both refined sugars). Fructose, even, still has some vitamins and minerals, but refined sugar, often under the guise of many deceptive names, is simply evil.
“Companies are going out of their way to promote products with added sugar in them as healthier than they really are,” said Deborah Bailin, an analyst with the center and the report’s lead author. “In many cases, they’re adding sugar to otherwise healthy foods and misleading customers about it. It’s not just soda and snacks, either. Added sugar is in everything from bread to salad dressing and even frozen dinners.”
- Beet sugar
- Cane sugar
- Confectioner’s sugar
- Granulated sugar
- Rock candy
- White sugar
- β-D; Glucopyranoside
- Table sugar
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Your Body Works Harder When You Eat Refined Sugar
When you consume refined sugar, your body metabolizes it differently than natural sugar found in plant foods. Once you take a bite of refined sugar, glucose floods into your bloodstream. This creates stress on your body as it tries to bring that level back down. The pancreas in particular becomes really tired and stressed. If you keep eating too much sugar, the pancreas poops out and you end up having diabetes or other chronic health problems.
The body is designed to break down sugars in real foods, but not the chemical, refined, man-made versions. Whole grains and fruits that contain sugar aren’t going to eventually kill you. Refined sugar will. These sugars rob your body of nutrients and minerals, tax your organs, wreck havoc on the brain, and leave you feeling depleted, worn out, and often times depressed.
How to Avoid Refined Sugars
Start by eating foods that don’t come out of a box. Drink water instead of soda. If you want fresh applesauce, put some chopped apples and some cinnamon in a blender or food processor. Strange ingredients are avoided and it will taste even better than what comes in a jar. Switch a candy bar out with peanut butter or almond butter and a piece of fruit. The protein will help you metabolize the natural sugars even better. If you get hungry mid-afternoon, pack some healthy snacks instead of getting stuck at a drive-in or being relegated to a vending machine.
Need a Real Energy Boost?
Sugar doesn’t need to be included when eating for energy. Forget sugar, and try these:
- Take a walk or get some exercise. It gives you energy almost immediately.
- Eat more protein in the mornings. This will regulate glucose levels throughout the day and reduce sugar cravings.
- Try taking gymnema herb, it makes sugar cravings disappear.
- Yawn – it cools off the brain and adds oxygen to the body.
- Try yogic breathing exercises like the ‘breath of fire’ for five minutes. You’ll have the energy of a pro-athlete. Here is a Youtube video on the practice.
Christina Sarich is a humanitarian and freelance writer helping you to Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.