Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finding a "healthy" sugar alternative PART ONE

Okay, so at this point in time, I am cooking/baking with unrefined organic sugar. I have been telling myself for a very long while, that I need to find out the alternatives and see if there is anything better.
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.


  1. Im def looking forwards to reading this. I was recently diagnosed with CFRD and its all soo confusing.

    I have done a littler research on artificial sweetners but now much. I just know that almost ALL (sweet n low,nutra sweet, splenda, high fructose corn syrup,etc) are not very good for you. Some even go through the blood and brain barrier and might cause cancer!!

    So basically in my house we try and stay away from sugar BUT if we have to use it we use real sugar. We mostly use sugar for koolaid and tea. And I am addicted to coke. But I read labels like crazy. I want things as close to their natural state.

    Anyways Ill be looking forward to reading this!

  2. Another very informational post, Missa. Thank you! This is a huge downfall for me -- while we do a pretty good job with nutrition in other areas, we're all sugar addicts in our house. I'm hoping to make changes for myself, and hopefully mold good eating habits for our girls in the process.

  3. I have heard some good things about ( I hope I spell this right )
    Stevia??? I haven't done any research on it but it's an idea. :-)

  4. That is one of the alternatives I am looking at Elicia....I am hoping to get part two up this week....i am too much of a perfectionist and want to make sure i get the most correct info out there!!!

  5. Missa I totally understand thats what being a CF Momma is all about. It's all about the correct info.

  6. Excellent Melissa! Very good info! You outlining this info is real powerful - bravo! Unfortunately all artificial sweeteners are looked at by the body as a toxin and over time crazy unexplained illnesses will occur. If you know anyone who has been a drinker of diet coke over a period of time you'll know what I'm talking about :) If sweeteners though come from natural sources such as fructose for example (which is part of fruit sugar), they are so highly concentrated that they have side effects. I'm thinking of honey which is 40% fructose or even agave syrup which is 90% fructose. These high fructose levels lead to a fatty liver, fat accumulation throughout the body and all sorts of inflammatory issues including the diseases you've outlined. Fruits though contain less fructose, are very well metabolized and lead to a strong healthy body. Fructose is only 5-7% by weight of cherries, bananas, grapes, apples and only 2-3% in blackberries, grapefruit and oranges.

    Sugar is more addictive than cocaine and asking someone to stop or lessen their consumption is kind of like asking them to switch religions or change political parties - haha. But, by eating less refined sugars and replacing them with more fruits/vegetables causes positive changes in your taste buds and cravings do quickly decrease.

    One quick line on fish oil: Those of you on fish oil, I would highly recommend liquid over capsule form. My family at least has noticed drastic differences between the two, liquid working much better. It is more concentrated and they have developed good tasting liquid fish oil too. We have tried drastically increasing the dosages of capsules and even then didn't compare to standard dosages of the liquid form.

    sorry about the long post - I kinda like this stuff - lol

    grace and peace :)