Concerned about sugar?
by Marie Reyes
Medical Scientist, Generational herbalist
You should be. Added sugar is the #1 toxin responsible for a multitude of illnesses ranging from inflammatory disorders such as (skin)eczema and psoriasis and, of course, type 2 diabetes. Other disorders of the immune system can also be included in this list such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, General Arthritis, and even bone loss (Osteoporosis) +many more.
There is a plethora of research associated with sugar and the body, but the process the body does to break sugars down is complex and specific to each type of sugar.
From plant based sugars to meat based or synthetic, it is hard, if not impossible to navigate as the average citizen. Products marketed in the sugar alternative industry have yielded cancer causing results in the laboratory such as aspartame found in the sugar replacement product, Equal.
Other times people recommend: honey, agave nectar, molasses, monkfruit, coconut palm, or just raw sugar as a healthy alternative to refined white table sugar. All of these alternatives, have unique chemical make-ups that the body must break down individually. They are not necessarily better than regular refined sugar. Aside from some of the chemicals used in the refining process, they are very similar on a chemical level to regular sugar. Pre-diabetics and diabetics would do best to avoid them, but also everyone else as well.
All of these sugars contain a significant level of the sugar: fructose. While it’s not “high fructose” as in corn syrups, fructose combines with other seemingly harmless compounds found in other foods, and can form alcohols which have to be processed by the liver. This toxic mix puts stress on the liver and the pancreas. If consumed regularly, it can break the body’s systems down over time-stemming from a constant imbalance in homeostasis.
Just like putting bad gas into your vehicle, the mechanics begin to fail over time.
So whats the run down on some of the other products out there?
Stevia – this sugar is naturally based from a plant. However it is extracted by various methods, sometimes using toxic chemical agents to speed the process. It has unfortunately been linked to endocrine system disruption, kidney issues and gastrointestinal problems. The FDA currently recommends 4mg/kg weight of a person. For example a person who is about 130lbs will be around 58kg. This means that they should consume no more than 58*4 = 232mg of Stevia per day to stay within limits. One packet of Stevia is about 1000mg. Doesn’t compute.
Yacon Syrup – this molasses-like extract shows a ton of promise as a sugar substitute and replacement. The only side effects known are stomach discomfort and flatulence(gas) if eaten in large amounts. It is pretty widely available. It comes from a root used in Peru for eons as a sugar replacement and weight loss aid. Research shows that it is beneficial to gut flora we need for digestion and that there is an added benefit of weight loss when using yacon syrup regularly.
Xylitol – this is a natural sugar. It is considered relatively safe in amounts smaller than 50mg per day. Large doses have been shown to possibly cause tumors. 1 packet of xylitol contains about 2000mg of the substance according to our research of products currently offered. 2000mg is a lot more than the recommended safe amount of 50mg. Doesn’t seem promising. This image was taken from a box sold on Amazon.com.
Sucralose (in Splenda) – this sugar substitute is in debate status currently. Some purport that it is completely harmless but others insist it raises both insulin and blood sugar levels in some people. With the uniqueness of each person, it seems reasonable that it could affect people differently.
Saccharin– this sugar synthetic has been named repeatedly in the news with links to many diseases. Due to the fact that the public and researchers were unable to prove any links, saccharin no longer requires a warning label on its products. This may be my opinion, but it seems that there could be a lot more to the story than we actually know. The sugar substitute is a billion dollar industry, which means that it has the potential to sway our poorly regulated system in its’ favor.
It is important to recognize that we should limit our intake of sugars in the form of sugar substitutes but also certain fruits if we are concerned with liver health, diabetes, or other disorders like inflammatory disorders. This is especially true of the sugar, Fructose. Here is a link to foods to avoid and foods that are better choices overall: Low Fructose Diet
As always, remember that food is thy medicine!