Written by Kristen Branzetti, NTP
We hear it all the time; sugar is bad for us. But the question is, why? When the body is bombarded with sugar many negative processes start to take over. To start, brain fog begins to set in. Our brain’s love fueling off of healthy fats. Excess processed sugar can cause brain fog, lack of motivation, difficulty paying attention and dementia. Furthermore, excess sugar can wreak havoc on our metabolisms. Weight gain in the mid-section is tied to excess sugar consumption and this occurs from the body storing excess sugar as fat cells. Sugar also depletes our energy and focus, changes our gut health, increases our risk for heart disease and diabetes and affects cancer cell production since cancer cells feed off of sugar. We must remember that sugar is highly addictive causing more and more cravings; as addictive as some drugs on the brain. However, by slowly making these swaps to sugars found in nature, your body will thank you over time with increased energy, metabolism balance, clarity of the mind!
The average American adult consumes roughly 22 teaspoons of added sugars every single day. These sugars even come from hidden sugars found in foods that we think are “healthy”. The top ten places sugar is hiding in our diets:
- Cereals, even flavored oatmeal
- Granola Bars
- Packaged Breads
- Frozen Waffles/Pancakes
- Bottled Sauces such as BBQ sauce, condiments (ketchup) and marinades
- Dried Fruit
- Protein Bars
- Flavored Yogurts
- Low Calorie Juices and Coffee Drinks
- Salad Dressings
What we must avoid is the consumption of hidden sugars. These lay unsuspected in our yogurts, cereals, snack bars and juices. Processed foods contain a great amount of sugar from sugars such as high fructose corn syrup or maltodextrin. These sugars rapidly increase our blood sugar and in the long term, this can lead to conditions such as weight gain and heart disease.
Here are the Most Common Hidden Names for Sugars:
- Corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup
- Dextrose or crystal dextrose
- Evaporated cane juice or fruit juice
- Carob syrup
- Brown sugar
- Raw sugar
- Dextrin and maltodextrin
- Rice syrup
- Evaporated corn sweetener
- Confectioner’s powdered sugar
- Agave Nectar
The incredible thing is that mother nature provides us with wonderful, naturally occurring sugars that we can turn to instead! These “healthier” sugars, including coconut palm sugar, honey, pure maple syrup and blackstrap molasses are much easier for the body to digest. Generally, since these are far less processed, they are okay in moderation but are still a source of sugar to keep to small amounts. We have five steps to help battle the sugar crisis!
- Switch to Natural Sweeteners. Remember, everything in moderation. Try local raw honey, pure, organic maple syrup, dates or coconut sugar.
- Increase your Healthy Fats. By increase your healthy fats, our goal is to switch your body from a sugar burner to a fat burner. When you are craving something sweet, it is a fairly clear indicator that you are not digesting the proper amount of healthy fats in your diet. Adding in foods high in healthy fats such as avocadoes, cold-pressed coconut oil, organic olive oil, nuts and grass-fed butter are wonderful additions.
- Start Your Day with a Protein-Packed Breakfast. Instead of breaking your “fast” that you have been in while sleeping, this is breakfast, with sugars, let’s break the fast with healthy fats, high-quality proteins and some fruits and vegetables. A great option over milk and cereal or oatmeal could be an egg scramble with sautéed vegetables and a slice of sourdough bread with grass-fed butter or, some whole-fat plain yogurt with mixed nuts, fresh berries and cinnamon.
- Stop Drinking Your Calories. In a single soda, there are upwards of 11 teaspoons of sugar! Instead of reaching for a soda, grab some pure, clean water. We need to drink half of our body weight in ounces of water a day. If you are looking for your water to have a little bit more flavor, infuse it with some fruit! A great infusion is cucumber and mint or lemons.
- Make Your Own Salad Dressings and Smoothies. If you’re eating a lot of sauces and always running to the smoothie bar to buy a smoothie, try making these in your own home where you can monitor the sugar content. Adding in some fruit, about ½ a cup, or one pitted medjol date, will surely sweeten up your smoothie!
To learn more about Kristen Branzetti and Nourish Health & Nutrition please click here