Saturday, August 28, 2010
Finding a "healthy" sugar alternative PART ONE
I know refined white sugar is terrible. One article I found said the average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar a week. You can find sugar as an ingredient in a number of things you eat daily, that you never would have guessed had sugar in it. Soup, Spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, ketchup,salad dressings, baby formula, hot dogs...I just bought organic tomato sauce at Costco and that has sugar in it (I will be returning it on my next trip into town)
What is refined white sugar? It starts out as sugar cane, the juice is pressed out into molasses, it is refined into brown sugar and then refined again into the little white crystals we know as sugar. Refined means heated (possibly using chemicals) and the heating takes out any nutrients that could possibly be in the sugar and just leaves the sweet carbohydrate, sucrose.
What does refined white sugar do? It feeds cancer cells. It raises the blood insulin level, which in turn lowers the body's immune system and exhausts the pancreas. The raise in blood insulin also aids in the storage of fat and thus weight gain. It can be a cause for ADD/ADHD, headaches and the list goes on.
Should I go an a tangent about CF and gaining weight? Okay, it will just take a few sentences. Many people with Cystic Fibrosis are desperate to gain weight. Often nutritionists will tell their patients to eat processed foods, as they are a huge culprit in the world of overweight people. One reason processed foods have the stigma for weight gain, is due to their high content of sugars. Yes, those foods can help in the weight gain area, but the first thing is, that the weight gain is coming at the cost of a good working immune system. And fat gained by eating processed food is very easily lost when sickness comes along. The best thing to do is gain muscle through a more healthy diet and exercise. Also the intake of sugar puts your pancreas through a lot of work with the fluctuation of insulin levels and most people with CF have definite issues with their pancreas.
Okay, now I am back to sugar :)
I am now back to the question, what do I use in place of refined/white sugar. There are so many options. A lot of them are questionable as to whether they are much better than refined and many seem to be fine as long as used in moderation.
One of the things we are going to look at is the glycemic levels of different sugars. A food with a high glycemic index indicates that it rapidly raises the blood glucose level and necessitates a quick response from the pancreas to metabolize the sugar. This is where the pancreas and immune system gets stressed out. A food with a low glycemic index, breaks down more slowly and places much less pressure on the insulin producing pancreas. Refined sugar definitely falls on the high glycemic side. Luckily there are a few things found that seem to be low glycemic.
Check out part 2, to see what sugar alternative might be best for you.