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Nutrition Weekly : Sugar

May 31 2011

Sugar, Spice, and everything nice :
By Debra Meszaros :

Sugar, nature's spice of life, it makes everything taste so nice! No one will argue that point right? What you will find among all the information about sugar available to you is contradiction and misinformation. Most of the information taken from research has been twisted and turned by the desire for increased profits by those companies supplying the reports. It's time we got down to the truth. Sugar is essential to life and our bodies are designed to utilize it. So what's all the fuss about? -

Setting the record straight -

I think it's most important for the Motocross Athlete to understand the differences between types of sugar sources and how they actually affect your performance.

The best way to get your sugars is in nature's whole form, naturally found in fruits and vegetables. Fructose, is fine when left within the food its present in, but soon as you extract it, you have just left all its synergistic, nutritional partners behind. Science loves to practice reductionism. They identify a healthy component, extract it, concentrate it, and bottle it up and sell it to you! Don't be fooled, Mother Nature knows what it is doing. Eat whole fruits and vegetables and unless you are juicing your own juice each day, stay away from the sugar water they're trying to sell you. Additionally, a good thing can turn bad with excess so keeping fruit intake to 2 pieces a day; this works to keep most individuals within the 25 grams or less of suggested fructose per day. Why? Too many fresh fruits = raised uric acid blood levels = high blood pressure = inhibited nitric oxide (blood vessel elasticity). Plus, running your body on sugar creates peaks and valleys in your daily energy. Ever feel that 3pm need to take a nap feeling?

- Corn sugar, your body can't tell the difference -

I'm sure by now you've seen these commercials and maybe thought nothing of them but let me bring something to your attention; it's a misleading commercial and developed by corn growers. They're scared at the moment as the public is reading numerous reports about how high fructose corn syrup is NOT a good thing. High fructose corn syrup is a very inexpensive way to sweeten processed foods. The effects of high fructose corn syrup are controversial to say the least. The point I do want to make is that the body may actually recognize 'sugar is sugar' as they state but the concern is about the concentration of the sugar and the affects it has on the body. This may not be any different whether it's cane sugar, corn sugar, agave, or any other natural sweetener. So the issue here is quantity not origin. Consuming high fructose corn syrup puts you easily over your optimal levels of sugar intake for a day, all at one time. That's why the body responds the way it does.

- Nutritional values of sugar -

One issue about sugar is that cane sugar is primarily empty calories, but there are some forms of sugar that have some nutrient content making them 'better' choices. Date sugar which contains natural occurring sugars and is great for baking and Sucanat which is dehydrated juice of organically grown sugar, sold in granules and does contain vitamins and minerals. Like sucanat, molasses also contains nutrients, minerals and believe it or not, some protein. Maple syrup is also high in minerals. For the most part, despite some belief, Turbinado sugar and 'raw' sugar are really just coarse sugar, nothing special or healthier about them except for them being different in taste.

But the winner is??..

I might be repetitive but nature has done it again. Those busy little bees and all their hard work pays off big time as honey makes the 'best' choice as a sugar source. But not so quick, again it is all about the form of honey; truly raw, unfiltered and if you can, local honey since filtered, heated, commercial honey is just a highly concentrated sugar. When honey is not heated (raw), its enzymes, minerals, vitamin B's, and vitamin C content remains in tact. It is one of the few foods containing the enzyme, amylase. In an unfiltered state, beneficial bits of bee pollen, one of nature's nutrient richest foods, are left in the honey along with anti-bacterial and anti-viral residue. Additionally, to preserve all the benefits of raw honey, do not heat it during cooking. When placing it in tea, wait until the tea cools off a bit before adding it. Most importantly, do not over use honey; no more then two tablespoons per day please as it is still sugar.

Why pay attention to the sugars in your food?

It's simple, sugar is highly addictive and when one is addicted, long term addiction can lead to serious health issues. Excess sugar stresses the liver, creates fatigue, negatively affects your emotional status, and is associated with weight gain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, sinusitis, high cholesterol, ADHD, anxiety and even depression.
The body's domino effect from excess sugar = raised insulin levels = retained sodium = fluid retention = high blood pressure. So if these are health issues you?d like to avoid, watch your sugar and if your goal is to 'dial in' your body's performance, you know what to do.

*2011 Debra Meszaros All rights reserved, no duplication without permission.
DISCLAIMER: When you read through the diet and lifestyle information, you must know that everything within it is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. I am making no attempt to prescribe any medical treatment. You should not use the information here for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. The products and the claims made about specific products have not been evaluated by the United States Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. Confirm the safety of any supplements with your M.D., N.D. or pharmacist (healthcare professional). Some information given is solely an opinion, thought and or conclusion based on experiences, trials, tests, assessments or other available sources of information. I do not make any guarantees or promises with regard to results. I may discuss substances that have not been subject to double blind clinical studies or FDA approval or regulation. You assume the responsibility for the decision to take any natural remedy.
You and only you are responsible if you choose to do anything with the information you have read. You do so at your own risk. Use your intelligence to make the decisions that are right for you. Consulting a naturopathic doctor is strongly advised especially if you have any existing disease or condition.