“Sugar” Not Such a Sweet Deal After All


I have a break from school! A whole month off so that I can catch up on my life and yes, post my next blog. I have been volunteering at an amazing organization called A Rocha. They are committed to responsible environmental stewardship that passes on a legacy of hope and transformation to communities. A Rocha also has an amazing organic gardening program and we purchased a weekly veggie box from them (CSA program) which lasted from June till October. I volunteer specifically with at-risk young girls and I educate them on food, cooking and nutrition. The last program I put together was on sugar and it was very well received so I would like to share it with you today.

How many ways is there to say sugar? You might be surprised! One way to spot sugar on food labels is to look for the OSE. Sugars ending in –ose include: sucros; maltose; dextrose; fructose; glucose; galactose; lactose; high fructose corn syrup; and glucose solids.

Just because it doesn’t end in -ose, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t sugar. There are plenty of other names as well that may or may not sound like sugar. For example: cane juice; dehydrated cane juice; cane juice solids; cane juice crystals; dextrin; maltodextrin; dextran; barley malt; beet sugar; corn syrup; corn syrup solids; caramel; buttered syrup; carob syrup; brown sugar; date sugar; malt syrup; diatase; diatastic malt; fruit juice; fruit juice concentrate; dehydrated fruit juice; fruit juice crystals; golden syrup; turbinado; sorghum syrup; refiner’s syrup; ethyl maltol; maple syrup and yellow sugar. (Foodmatters.com)

Did you know that the food industry (the people that create packaged and processed foods) are allowed to use all these different names of sugar on packages to trick people into believing that there is less sugar in their product(s).
For example, they could use the words (sugar, corn syrup, sugar cane and glucose) all in one package.

How does sugar work in the body?

Apple juice vs an apple

Before sugar enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract, it is broken down into two simple sugars. They are: glucose and fructose.

• Glucose is found in every living cell on the planet. It is the source of energy for all of our body’s functions, especially our brains.

• Fructose is different. Our bodies do not produce it in any significant amount and there is no physiological need for it. It can only be processed by our liver.

Sugar is not a problem if we consume a little bit (such as from fruit) or we just finished an exercise session. In this case, the fructose will be turned into glycogen and stored in the liver until we need it. However, if the liver is full of glycogen already, eating a lot of fructose overloads the liver, forcing it to store the extra fructose as FAT! There is no fiber in the juice, pop, sports drink you are drinking so the sugar (glucose) is going to go into your blood stream very rapidly. Your insulin (hormone that regulates blood sugar) will shoot up very quickly to compensate for the high level of sugar and creates a stress response in the body (IHN class notes). When repeatedly eating large amounts of sugar, this process can lead to fatty liver and all sorts of serious problems (Inflammation in body) which leads to chronic diseases such as, diabetes, heart disease, cancer etc.

What about the sugar in fruit?

• Fruit comes with fiber, which naturally controls blood sugar and manages its flow into the blood stream.
• Fruit is also loaded with nutrients (vitamin c, a and phytochemicals and more.)

It is almost impossible to over eat fructose by eating fruit.

Sugar is addictive!

Sugar is the new tobacco. Unlike cigarettes, the warnings about sugar are mere whispers at best. Yet sugar is eight times more addictive than cocaine, and Americans are consuming 152 pounds of sugar a year — double what the Spanish eat! Most of it is hidden in processed foods and sweetened drinks. (Mark Hyman, MD). People who eat sugar on a daily basis typically crave even more sugar. It can correctly be called an addiction. Blood sugar levels spike after eating sugar and then plummet, resulting in a craving for more after a couple of hours (foodmatters.com).

The WHO (World Health Organization) suggests we consume No more than
2 Tablespoons of sugar per day (30 grams). Any more could lead to a stress response in the body, increased inflammation which can eventually lead to chronic disease.

Conversion Chart
1 Tablespoon = 15 grams
15 Grams of sugar = 15 ml of sugar
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons

I have some HOMEWORK for you!

1. Measure out 2 tbs of sugar and see what it looks like…

2. Take a look at your drink beverages and look at the sugar content and also (very important) look at the serving size.

3. Measure out a bowl of your cereal. When I went to the store to do some research, most bowls were for ¾ cup or even 2/3 of a cup for 10 grams of sugar. Most people do not eat 2/3 a cup of cereal. Let’s say you tripled that so your bowl was full. That is 30 grams of sugar right there (your recommended amount by the WHO). Now you add your one cup of milk that has 12 grams of sugar and you have 42 grams of sugar in one bowl of cereal. Giving you more than your recommended amount for one day.

4. Check your Starbucks drinks. I used to drink the Chai Tea Latte until I read that it has 43 grams of sugar in it. That is over one day’s intake of sugar. By the way, they have a beverage facts booklet at every store.

5. The worst for copulant amounts of sugar are “energy” drinks! Hands down!!! They have between 52 to 63 grams of sugar per can!!!!!!!!! That is two days intake of sugar!

• The average person consumes 40 kilos of sugar a year.
• One can of pop a day is equal to 50 lbs of sugar in one year.

Fat does not make us fat! SUGAR makes us fat!

Note: make sure you are NOT purchasing low-fat products. Guess what they replace the fat with? Sugar!

Here are some healthy sugar alternatives:

Dates: My favorite – they are a whole food with fiber!
Stevia: A herb native to South America and is 300 times sweeter-tasting than sugar.
Coconut palm sugar: Low score on the glycemic index.
Raw Honey
Lucuma Powder: Immune booster!

As with all sweeteners, you should use in moderation. Any sweetening agent that gets overused can overwhelm the liver and get turned into bad fat. Sugar is sugar afterall.

Bottom Line: Excess fructose (sugar) gets turned into fat, which can lodge in the liver and cause chronic diseases.

My intension is not to overwhelm you, but to encourage you to take control of your health and give you some tools and some different healthy suggestions.
It takes a whole week of “strict” no sugar intake for your body to stop craving it.
You are what you eat… and if you feed your body good food, your body will thank you for it.

Xo Shannon

Read more on Sugar:


Great documentaries to watch:

Hungry For Change: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MvAM97VDE8

Fed Up – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCUbvOwwfWM

A Rocha:

A Rocha Canada


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