Saturday, January 21, 2017

Looking to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet: Consider These Natural Alternatives

Author Bio: Ronnie is a health fanatic and loves all things chia and flax. When she isn't writing, you can find her kayaking with her corgi, Buffy.

Our nation is suffering from a sweet tooth. In fact, the number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes is ten times higher today than it was thirty years ago. This is partly due to the fact that over 70% of foods on supermarket shelves contain some form of added refined sugar.

Luckily, there are natural and safe alternatives to refined sugar out there. With a little foresight and planning, you can cut down your sugar consumption and decrease your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Additionally, investing in a good quality ginger supplement can support blood sugar regulation.

Sugar Explained
Sugars are classified as carbohydrates, which is the main source of energy for our cells. There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Let’s take a look at each of them individually to see how they affect the body.

Simple carbohydrates are also known as simple sugars. Chemically, simple sugars are made up of monosaccharides and disaccharides. Both of these molecules are formed of one or two monosaccharide molecules, respectively. Examples of monosaccharides include fructose and glucose. Sucrose, lactose, and maltose are disaccharides. The body absorbs these types of molecules very quickly. Simple sugars are found naturally in many types of foods, including fruit, vegetables, honey, dairy products, and cereals.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are starches that consist of polysaccharides. A polysaccharide is a long chain of monosaccharides and/or disaccharides. A single chain may contain hundreds of individual sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are naturally found in starchy foods such as potatoes or vegetables. Refined complex carbohydrates are often added to foods such as white bread, cake, and pastries.

Pointing the finger at simple or complex carbohydrates won’t solve the sugar addiction problem. Our bodies need both simple and complex carbohydrates to function optimally. The problem lies in excess consumption and whether or not the complex carbohydrates we consume are refined or whole grain. Whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that are good for our body.

Consuming natural, simple sugars in excess can be harmful, too. Our bodies can’t break down fructose properly when it’s consumed in excess. This excess fructose is then stored as liver fat, which can contribute to our likelihood of developing conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

Hidden in Plain Sight

Sugar isn’t just reserved for cakes and cookies. Refined sugar is an ingredient in a surprisingly large amount of products on supermarket shelves today, including:

·         Ketchup, salad dressing, and other condiments
·         Pasta sauce
·         White bread
·         Whole milk
·         Pre-packaged microwaveable meals
·         Low-fat yogurt
·         Alcohol
·         Sports drinks

The Dangers of Excess Sugar
Sugar is just as hazardous to your health as alcohol and tobacco. It’s also highly addictive. When you eat food that contains high levels of sugar, your brain releases dopamine, a hormone that makes you feel happy. As you continue to eat sugar in excess, your brain becomes accustomed to the presence of sugar. Eventually, your brain will require more and more sugar for the dopamine release. Voila! You have a sugar addiction.

Sugar addiction is considered one of the most dangerous threats to human health worldwide. Since it’s a carbohydrate, a sugar addiction can cause weight gain, obesity and long-term conditions like diabetes. This is because excess carbohydrates in the body are stored in the fat molecules. There is no nutritional value in sugar aside from the energy it provides, which is why sugar is often called an empty calorie.

Safe Sugar Substitutes

·         Honey. Nature’s nectar is a great alternative to refined cane sugar. However, don’t just pick up any old bottle of honey off the shelf. Some brands of honey contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Buying local, organic honey is the best option for those looking to reduce sugar in their diet.

·         Stevia. Hankering for something sweet while watching your blood glucose levels? Try stevia powder. This natural herb is sweeter than sugar but doesn’t raise your glucose levels.

·         Xylitol. This sugar substitute is a sugar alcohol that is found naturally in many foods, including fibrous fruits and vegetables. Xylitol won’t spike your blood sugar, is much better for your teeth than sugar, and is easily added to tea and coffee.

·         Fruit juice. Be wary of fruit juices on sale in the supermarket. Some of these juice drinks contain added refined sugar. Make sure you pick up 100% fruit juice and check the ingredients list to ensure there’s no added sugar.

·         Date sugar. This type of sugar is made from dehydrated ground dates. You’ll also reap the nutritional rewards from the dates themselves, making this a sweet alternative to refined sugar.

·         Blackstrap molasses. Molasses is the by-product of traditional cane sugar. Blackstrap molasses is what’s left over after cane syrup is boiled. However, because it’s a by-product, this type of molasses is very sweet but doesn’t contain very much sugar. Blackstrap molasses is also full of healthy nutrients like iron and calcium.

General Tips for Reducing Sugar in Your Diet

·         Read nutrition labels before you buy. This includes the ingredients list and the nutrition facts. If sugar is listed in the first five ingredients on the list, it’s one of the most abundant ingredients in that product.

·         Test your blood sugar before and after meals. If you really want to keep an eye on your glucose levels, invest in a glucose monitor. Testing one to two hours after you’ve finished your meal will give you the most accurate result. According to the American Diabetes Association, the average recommended glucose level after eating a meal should be below 180mg/dl.

·         Keep a nutrition log or journal. Keeping track of what you eat can really help you control your sugar addiction. You can use an online nutrition log platform to simplify the process and quickly add products without having to read dozens of nutrition labels. You’ll be able to see exactly how much sugar you’ve consumed at a glance.

·         Go whole grain. Before you pick up that bag of bleached flour, white bread, or white rice, take a moment to consider your purchase. These products contain unhealthy refined carbohydrates. Next time you find yourself in the supermarket picking up your weekly groceries, swap out that white bread for whole grain or wheat.

Mindful eating and careful planning can help you kick your sugar addiction to the curb. If you’re craving something sweet, opt for a piece of fruit or a glass of 100% fruit juice. And, if you must bake a cake or a batch of cookies – in moderation, of course – try swapping that cup of sugar in the ingredients list for honey or stevia.

Mail me for Guest Posts in (

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Med Fitness Blog

A Daily Blog for Latest Reviews on Fitness | Medicine | Nutrition | Public Health & Prevention | Weight Loss | Celebrity Tips| Many more....

Med Fitness Blog

Med Fitness Blog