SUGAR! It’s everywhere and we just cannot seem to live without it. I admit, I too was addicted to refined sugar. In fact, it took me a whole year to kick the addiction. I wrestled daily with having my 1/3-1/2 conventional chocolate bar a day. I justified my addiction to chocolate with the idea that, “Dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, so it’s actually healthy for me!” This was partially true, except my conventional chocolate was stripped of these health properties. Moreover, I was in denial about my addiction. I didn’t realize my dependence on food for pleasure, rather than nourishment and health. More importantly, I didn’t realize I was eating fake food with empty calories. Maybe if I had known my chocolate bar was full of processed sugar (27 grams=2 1/2 tbs of refined sugar), “natural” and artificial flavors, GMO soy, and cocoa (which is stripped of its vitamins and minerals) instead of cacao, I would have put the bar down sooner.
Read my post here for why cacao is the true chocolate, not cocoa.
Processed sugar is like the creepy bandit in the night–lurking and hiding in every boxed or processed food item in the U.S. It hides in your occasional Starbucks vanilla latte, it hangs out in your conventionally made fruit smoothie (sugary “fruit” syrups) and it easily slips into your “healthy” on-the-go granola bars. But this is exactly what the food companies want. If they can keep you malnourished and addicted to their perfect science-made flavor profile, it’s assured you will keep buying their food-like products. Even more scary is the fact that the majority of sugar grown in the U.S. is actually not sugar at all–it is man made, man altered and GMO–genetically modified! In fact, if the product doesn’t say organic sugar cane, then most likely you are consuming GMO beet sugar. So, let’s discuss the hazards with man-made alternative sweeteners and why it’s easy to get addicted when your body is lacking healthy nutrition.
Artificial Sweeteners=No Energy
The first problem with man-made alternative sweeteners–like aspartame and Splenda–is not that they taste sweet, but that they cannot be used by our cells to make energy, unlike plant based sugars (cane sugar, coconut sugar, etc.) and real food. To be more specific, because alternative sweeteners do not raise blood glucose levels, this means they do not provide an energy source for the body. When there is no rise in glucose in the blood, the effect is no signal to the brain for “full.” Therefore, there is a much greater tendency to overeat artificially sweetened foods because the body is constantly trying to obtain nutrients to make energy and reach a state of fullness.
“When we consume foods that are void of healthy nutrients, like artificially sweetened foods, the body is not attaining essential vitamins and minerals, which ultimately create satiety. Therefore, the body will end up craving more caloric intake, all the while trying to nourish itself. This is how a vicious cycle of overeating begins.”
Secondly, artificial sweeteners place a heavy burden on the detoxification system. It takes a great deal of metabolic processing for the body to break down man-made artificial sweeteners. So consuming more artificial sweetener requires greater work by the body to remove it and therefore requires more caloric intake. Are you seeing the pattern yet? Ultimately, artificial sugars open the door to overeating and heavily burden the body when it is trying to rid itself of…dare I say…CRAP! (Bauman, 2015)
Artificial Sweeteners=Burden on Body
Next, the problem with sugar is that it is simply not sugar anymore–instead it is a Genetically Modified Organism. In other words, “fake” sugar is showing up in pretty much all processed foods in the United States. Beet sugar or sugar beets, are the pale turnip looking roots, which the U.S. government so sweetly allowed for genetic modification. The definition of genetically modified is: (of an organism or crop) containing genetic material that has been artificially altered so as to produce a desired characteristic. Basically, a scientist in a lab, has altered the natural gene material in the seed to produce the outcome of desire. And who knows what genes are being altered and/or substituted. Nutritional biochemistry says that the body has a hard time recognizing, synthesizing and digesting unrecognizable molecules or unrecognizable sequences of molecules. (Bauman, 2015) Yet, man altered “sugar,” created in a science lab is found in almost every conventional packaged food in America. I wonder why digestion problems are the new norm in America?
According to The Organic and Non-GMO report (2008), the U.S.A’s sugar beet processors decided to convert the entire US sugar beet production to Roundup Ready genetically modified varieties, developed by Monsanto Company. The industry said farmers needed the GMO beets for better weed control. According to Monsanto’s website, Roundup Ready Sugar beets account for about 20% of the world’s sugar.
“Unlike corn and soybean production where non-GMO alternatives are available, the sugar beet processors did not want that option.” – Frank Morton, Owner of Wild Garden Seed
In the US, beet sugar accounts for the majority of the production and consumption. This is quite alarming given the fact that a group of French scientists led by Gilles-Eric Séralini, found that a Monsanto herbicide-tolerant GMO corn and RoundUp (Monsanto’s brand name for the herbicide used to treat GMO crops), caused severe diseases and tumor growths in rats. It is unfortunate Americans will be the ultimate science experiment, as there have been no human studies done for the short or long-term effects of consuming genetically modified foods, including GMO sugar beets. Current science funded by companies like Monsanto just say its safe, so eat it.
Monsanto’s website shows all the patents this corporation owns on seeds. Basically, Monsanto is the “god” of some of the largest crops of food grown in the United States: corn, soy, sugar beets, wheat, cotton, sorghum, canola and alfalfa. These are foods that the people of the United States and animals consume everyday, sometimes at every meal due to the Standard American Diet. Monsanto’s motive isn’t making money, right? There’s my two cents.
Whatever your stance on the controversial topic of GMO crops like sugar beets, we still can’t deny the issues of hidden fake sugars in our food products and the growing trends of obesity, heart disease and high blood sugar in our country. In light of this, we must realize we have plenty of healthier options when we choose to cook our own food or source our food items from our local farmers and natural food grocery stores.
Bottom line: If it says sugar, it’s fake and man-altered. If it says sugar cane, it is real. Organic sugar cane would be more ideal due to cleaner processing. Yet, it does still spike the blood sugar like caffeine, so it’s important to use cane sugar sparingly. Even better choices are available: maple syrup, honey, molasses, date syrup, stevia, coconut sugar and organic fruit, due to their high mineral and vitamin content and the ability for the body to use the sweetener for energy. And guess what? These are real, nature-made foods! Important to note: agave syrup is high on the glycemic index and tends to be more processed, so it is not a preferred sweetener.
Healthy Sweetener Guide
Lucky for you, I have developed the below guide that shows numerous plant-based sweeteners and how much to use when substituting for sugar. You may be surprised there are many healthy options after all! So, get creative in the kitchen and enjoy your favorite dessert in a healthier, new and improved way because, “Chocolate [made from cacao and unrefined sugar] is always a good idea!”
In divine health,
Eat Your Greens Out
Bauman, Ed. & Friedlander, J. (2015) “Foundations of Nutrition.” Bauman College: Penngrove , CA
Sugar beet photo retrieved from https://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/url-1.jpg
June 2008. Sugar beet industry converts to 100% GMO, disallows non-GMO option. Retrieved at http://www.nongmoreport.com/articles/jun08/sugar_beet_industry_converts_to_gmo.php
Roundup Ready Sugar Beets. retrieved from http://www.monsanto.com/products/pages/roundup-ready-sugarbeets.aspx
Adl-Tabatabai, S. (2015) Signs of the Times. retrieved from https://www.sott.net/article/308623-Scientist-who-discovered-that-GMOs-cause-tumors-wins-lawsuit