Did you give up sugar to improve your health in 2019?
We are four weeks into the new year. Maybe you’ve had some success or maybe you’ve thrown in the towel. Either way, I want to give you healthier alternatives to sugar so you can ditch this toxic sweetener once and for all.
We all know how harmful refined sugar is for your body. There’s plenty of science and research linking it to weight gain and body inflammation, which increase the likelihood of disease. One of the most important, yet lesser known, impacts is its effect on gut health integrity. It’s difficult to reduce your sugar intake because sugar is a stimulant. Sugar provides you a quick jolt of energy and dopamine feels amazing.
This creates an unhealthy roller-coaster effect in your body: a large spike in your blood glucose followed by a similarly quick drop. As your blood sugar drops, your body screams for more sugar ... and the cycle continues. This negatively affects your brain chemistry. Some studies show sugar as four to seven times more addictive than cocaine. Basically, the more you consume, the more you crave. Ask anyone who has a healthy relationship with sugar how much they crave it. They don’t – because their taste buds and brain are working for them, not against them.
Could you live without sugar? Absolutely. And unless you have a serious health condition, creating a healthier relationship is all that is needed.
To successfully remove sugar from your diet, it’s important to replace it with healthier alternatives. These help reduce sugar cravings and reset your taste buds to enjoy more naturally sweet foods and treats. Most importantly, they get your brain chemistry working for you.
Healthy sweetener choices are natural, minimally processed and have the natural-containing nutrients that are vital for health. There are no such nutrients in refined sugar.
Honey, for instance, provides more than just a sweet taste. Raw, local honey is a powerful health tool and contains enzymes, trace minerals, flavonoids and polyphenols that have been shown to increase antioxidants in your body and decrease inflammation. Why raw? Because the heating process destroys the health benefits of honey.
Stevia is another good sweetener. Look for products that list only stevia on the ingredients list and do not include other sweeteners such as dextrose. Stevia is a good choice for diabetics (or anyone trying to lose a few pounds) because it doesn’t raise blood glucose levels.
Maple syrup and molasses are also great sweeteners. Of these, molasses is the shining star. It provides usable nutrients such as potassium, iron, magnesium, calcium and vitamin B6.
One last tip: You can really jumpstart your health and how you feel by ditching high-fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners at the same time. Look for products that do not list either in their ingredients list.
Fran Sutherlin, RD, MS is a local registered dietitian, digestive health coach, speaker, and owner of Sustainable Nutrition. She can be reached at 444-2122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.