By Ibtisam S. Wali
Continued from (I)…
What about natural sugars?
Keeping in mind that fruits also contain fructose, the nagging question remains: “are fruits good for me?” An ameliorating factor is that whole fruits also contain vitamins and other antioxidants that reduce the hazardous effects of fructose. Fruit juices, on the other hand, are nearly as detrimental as taking plain sugar, because a glass of juice is loaded with fructose, and a lot of the antioxidants are lost. Take orange juice for example, once the fresh squeezed juice has been pasteurized, it no longer has any live enzymes, and the vitamin and mineral content has been greatly reduced. In essence, the processing of the juice renders it the same as refined white sugar, because it does not contain the life-giving substances which help the natural sugar to be metabolized.
Also, when orange juice is commercially prepared, the juice is stored in large vats for up to a year. By that time it is of very low quality because it has no live enzymes, and low amounts of vitamins and minerals. And frankly, it doesn’t taste that good. So the industry bolsters the flavor by adding what they call “flavor packs” to the juice to make it palatable enough that you will buy it. To preserve the live enzymes, the juice must be consumed within 20 minutes of being juiced. After that, all live enzymes are dead. Since most people do not drink fresh squeezed orange juice, they are feeding their bodies pure sugar without knowing it.
Honey is also a class of simple sugars which is regarded by most nutritionists as “harmful” to optimal health when prolonged consumption in amounts above 15% of the carbohydrate calories are ingested. This may be a rather surprising fact. Although honey is a natural sweetener, it is considered a refined sugar because 96% of dry matter are simple sugars (fructose, glucose and sucrose). It is little wonder that the honey bear is the only animal found in nature with a problem with tooth-decay, owing to the fact that honey decays teeth faster than table sugar.
Honey has the highest calorie content of all sugars with 65 calories per tablespoon, compared to the 48 calories per tablespoon found in table sugar. Pesticides used on farm crops and residential flowers have been found in commercial honey. Honey can be fatal to an infant whose immature digestive tracts are unable to deal effectively with Botulinum Spore growth. Honey is best taken raw, unheated; manufacturers who heat it in order to give it a clear appearance to enhance sales, destroy what nutrients or enzymes raw honey contains. It is good to use in special cures, but not as an everyday food.
Sugar and cancer
Sugar feeds cancer. Many cancer patients would have a major improvement in their conditions if they controlled their body’s supply of sugar, which happens to be cancer’s preferred fuel. By slowing the cancer’s growth, patients make it possible for their immune systems to catch up to the disease. Controlling one’s blood-glucose levels through diet, exercise, supplements and prescription drugs – when necessary – can be one of the most crucial components to a cancer treatment program. Since cancer cells derive most of their energy from anaerobic glycolysis, the goal is not to eliminate sugars or carbohydrates entirely from the diet but rather to control blood-glucose within a narrow range to help starve the cancer cells and boost immune function.
In summary, here is short list of a few of the ways in which sugar can affect your health:
- Sugar can suppress the immune system
- Sugar can contribute to hyperactivity, anxiety, depression concentration difficulties and crankiness in children
- Sugar can cause kidney damage
- Sugar can cause hypertension and increase the risk of other heart diseases
- Sugar can promote tooth decay
- Sugar can produce an acidic stomach
- Sugar can speed the aging process, causing wrinkles and grey hair
- Sugar can contribute to weight gain and obesity
- Sugar can contribute to diabetes
- Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis
- Sugar causes food allergies
- Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy
- Sugar can contribute to eczema in children
- Sugar can cause damage to the liver
- Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines
- Sugar can cause hormonal imbalance
Most people think sugar is just dangerous if you fear gaining weight, and some even boast about how much sugar they eat, without gaining any weight. However, with sugar being in most foods today as one of the top five ingredients, it is time we wake up to the bitter truth about how it harms our body and plays a leading role in almost every disease and health condition out there. Its harmful effects go way beyond just weight problems. And the worst part is that, it is no longer safe to just avoid “sweets”, as sugar in highly refined forms of sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high fructose corn syrup, is added to pretty much every processed food such as bread, breakfast cereal, mayonnaise, ketchup, cooking sauces and a plethora of other processed foods.
The only interesting thing about sugar is that it tastes good and makes us temporarily feel good, perhaps that is why people have such a hard time giving up sugar; it is almost impossible to get children to stay away from it. Many people really try hard to avoid sugar, and do not sweeten their tea or coffee, yet they crave sugar in some other form, such as chocolates, cakes, ice cream or even fruit – dates and figs (dates are 99% sugar, in the form of fructose).
The wonderful thing is that we do not have to give up the sweetness of sugar in order to be healthy; we just need to replace it with better alternatives. While giving up sugar is very difficult, replacing it is now very easy. There are two natural, organic sugar alternatives that are sweet, easy to use and cook with – stevia and xylitol. They may sound like chemicals but they are completely natural and have been proven not only safe but beneficial for our well-being.
The best one to use is Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana) from the Asteraceae family, which was rediscovered by Dr. M. S. Bertoni in 1888. Stevia is a herb that has been used as a sweetener in South America for hundreds of years. It is calorie-free, which means it has no effect on our bodies’ production of insulin. Stevia, in its powdered concentrate, is 300 times sweeter than sugar, so only tiny amounts are needed for sweetening. Stevia is widely used all over the world. In Japan, for example, it claims 41% of the sweetener market, including sugar, and was used in Japanese Diet Coke until the company replaced it with aspartame (to “standardize” worldwide).
There have not been any reports of toxicity with stevia, which is consumed by millions of people daily. However, in the US, the FDA, and in Australia, the FSANZ, do not allow stevia to be used as a food additive. But in China, Japan, Taiwan and Korea, stevia is fully approved and has proven to be safe, with no toxicity reported from its use to date. In Australia stevia is sold as a supplement and it is readily available from various distributors. A wonderful article that puts the whole sugar industry in perspective is published by the Herb Research Foundation: Stevia Leaf – Too Good To Be Legal? by Rob McCaleb
The only thing that deters people using stevia is that it can taste a little bitter in drinks and in some recipes, but this can be overcome by using another wonderful sweetener, called xylitol, in combination with stevia for ideal sugar replacement.
Xylitol is a natural substance found in fibrous vegetables and fruit, as well as in corn cobs and various hardwood trees, like birch. It is a natural, intermediate product that regularly occurs in the glucose metabolism of humans and animals, as well as in the metabolism of several plants.
Xylitol is so natural that our bodies produce up to 15 grams of it daily during normal metabolism. Xylitol has been known to organic chemistry since the 1890’s. Studies on both humans and rodents have shown that xylitol, when administered orally, is well tolerated and safe to levels of at least 40g per day (which equates to some 10-12 teaspoons of sugar) with no subjective or objective adverse findings. Importantly, much less insulin is released into the blood during xylitol administration than during glucose administration. This is obviously a very good thing for insulin-sensitive individuals or for anyone concerned with weight loss, as insulin (apart from driving the glucose into the cells) also tells the body to store even slight excess carbohydrates as fat, rather than to use them as energy.
Relatively high quantities of xylitol are found in plums, raspberries and cauliflower (0.3 to 0.9 g per 100 g dry matter; the quantities vary depending on plant varieties). Even though xylitol is derived from fruits and vegetables, it is not the same as fructose. Xylitol is a five-carbon sugar, which means that it is anti-microbial (prevents the growth of bacteria), whereas all other forms of sugar are six-carbon sugars, which cause bacterial and fungi overgrowth.
Xylitol looks, feels and tastes exactly like sugar – though that is where the similarity ends! While sugar wreaks havoc on the body, xylitol heals and repairs. It also builds immunity.
There are many benefits of using xylitol as a sugar substitute:
* Glycemic index of 7 (sucrose is 60)
* Minimal effect on blood sugar and insulin levels
* Inhibits yeast, including Candida Albicans (It actually helps fight candida)
* Inhibits plaque and dental cavities by 80% (Dentists use it and recommend xylitol toothpaste)
* Retards demineralization, and promotes re-mineralization, of tooth enamel
Based on scientific and public health evaluations, xylitol has been approved in virtually all industrialized countries to be used in oral hygiene products and in other products to promote oral health.
In its crystalline form, it can replace sugar in cooking, baking, and as a sweetener for beverages. Xylitol is used in chewing gum, mints and hygiene products, such as nasal and mouth washes, because it inhibits bacteria. Unlike many artificial sweeteners, it leaves no unpleasant aftertaste. Xylitol is formally approved in over 50 countries worldwide. Xylitol has no known toxic levels (Except that quantities over 90 gm/day may have a laxative effect).
The amount tolerated varies with individual susceptibility and body weight. Most adults can tolerate at least 40 gm/day. The only problem with xylitol is that it costs more than sugar, however, if we combine it with stevia in the ratio of 12:1 (12 parts of xylitol to 1 part of stevia), it becomes more cost effective and is a healthy way to sweeten our taste buds and satisfy our brain! Imagine eating cakes and chocolates that not only taste good but are also good for our teeth? You can literally have your cake and enjoy it without the guilt or empty detrimental sugar calories!
(c)(r) Ibtisam S. Wali