Overcoming Sugar Addictions & The Best Natural Substitutes
Of all the processed foods out there today, one of the most addictive is refined sugar.
The big problem with refined sugar is that it causes insulin and blood sugar to rage, disrupts the gut microbiome and eventually leads to a host of health conditions such as:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Cardiovascular Disease...and
- Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's.
When it comes to inflammation and dis-ease in the body, there is no bigger culprit than refined sugar.
And over the past 50 years, the food industry has profited from the continued production of highly addictive products that feature refined sugars like these:
- Breakfast Cereals
- Energy Bars
- Soft Drinks
Refined sugar is so prolific in today's supermarket foods, that the average person inadvertently consumes upwards of 20 teaspoons of refined sugar per day without even realising it!
Sugar addiction is difficult to break because the appetite for sugar becomes so strong that the individual is constantly searching for the "energy hit". Similar to how a drug addict is always on the look out for the next "high".
And it is one of the primary reasons why today, there is an epidemic of inflammatory lifestyle diseases like those already mentioned, plus mental illnesses like depression because of the effect that excessive refined sugar has on the brain.
Not All Sugar is Actually Bad
The first thing to realise about sugar, is that not all sugar is bad, because not all sugar is created equal.
In our blog, The Truth About Sugar, we reveal how in simple terms there are really only two types of sugar that exist. And each of these sugars have fundamentally different characteristics.
The two types of sugar are:
1. Man-Made Sugar - These are mostly refined versions of natural sugar that have been artificially or synthetically processed in some way. This refining process, reduces the molecular size of the sugars, turning them into "fast sugars".
Fast sugars cause blood sugar spikes, short bursts of energy and eventually wear out the pancreas. They also upset the ecology of the gut and energy function in the mitochondria, which ultimately leads to Diabetes, Obesity and Chronic Fatigue.
2. Plant-Made Sugar - These sugars are whole unrefined sugars naturally occurring in plants - predominately fruits and whole grains - that have not been processed in any way.
The sugar molecules are much larger and more complex, hence they run slowly through the blood stream. This is why the term "complex carbohydrates" or "slow sugars".
When you understand the key distinction between harmful sugar and healthful sugar it changes the paradigm.
One delivers vitamins, minerals and cellular energy, whilst the other causes chaos in the body.
Examples of Refined Sugars
The most obvious example of refined sugar is white crystal sugar. However, refined sugar can also be disguised as these aliases in packaged food ingredients:
- Corn Syrup
- High-fructose Corn Syrup
- Malt syrup
Negative Health Effects of Refined Sugar
Refined sugars raise blood pressure and cause a chemical response in the brain that tells the pancreas to release insulin. This sudden burst of insulin in the blood stream zaps your energy and makes you feel lethargic.
It also tells the body to lay down fat to protect itself.
The effects of ongoing consumption of refined sugars include:
- Rapid Weight Gain
- Chronic Fatigue and Adrenal weakness
- Skin reactions
- Gut inflammation
- Candida and yeast infections
- Lowered immunity
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Intestinal parasites
- Teeth cavities
Artificial sweeteners are even worse for your health than white sugar because they are neurotoxins that disrupt the brain.
Artificial sweeteners like saccharin or aspartame are not meant for your body.
They provide no beneficial nutrients, cause nerve degeneration and commonly lead to mental fog, headaches, poor sleep/wake cycles, depression, anxiety and even autoimmune conditions.
Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms
If you suddenly cut back on refined sugar, it is common to experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as:
- Cravings & Hunger Pangs
- Muscle Aches
The important thing to realise, is that this is your body's way of detoxifying itself from the addiction and these reactions will eventually subside.
The worst thing you can do is relapse back into eating sugar again to deal with your cravings.
The sugar addiction has been formed over a long period of time and will take a little time to alleviate before you no longer desire processed sugar any more.
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
Giving up refined sugar doesn't necessarily mean giving up your sweet tooth.
However, as your cells become more nourished, you will generally experience less sugar cravings.
The best way to reduce harmful sugar cravings is to start to move away from the addictive versions and towards wholesome and wholefood sweeteners.
Healthy Natural Sugar Substitutes
Raw Organic Honey
Raw Honey is a natural go-to sweetener that is the perfect substitute to refined sugar. Honey is a natural antibacterial, anti fungal food that is loaded with antioxidants and is one of the healthiest, mineral-rich foods you can eat.
Organic Maple Syrup
Made from the sap of black or red maple trees, maple syrup is loaded with antioxidants, minerals and has numerous anti-inflammatory qualities.
Characterised by an earthy, sweet taste, maple syrup is a delightful plant-based substitute for harmful sugars for use in raw deserts and as an addition to homemade oatmeal (porridge) and smoothies.
Packed with phytonutrients, Medjool Dates are nature's unprocessed sweetener and are also rich in dietary fibre and immune-boosting qualities.
Delightfully soft in texture, add pitted medjool dates to blended raw desert mixes and to smoothies.
Organic Green Stevia
Stevia is a natural sweetener that does not spike blood sugar and reduces the craving for sweets and fatty foods. However, when choosing Stevia, be sure to only look for organic green stevia, which unlike white stevia, has not been chemically processed.
Steviosides, the principle sugar molecule component of stevia, pass through the alimentary canal without being altered by digestive processes, demonstrating remarkable stability. They simply cannot be broken down into their metabolites under normal gastric conditions.
As a result, the sugar molecules pass unchanged through the human gastrointestinal tract and are not absorbed into the blood, producing no calories. Preliminary research indicates that stevia may actually reset the hunger mechanism in people where the pathway between the hypothalamus and the stomach has become obstructed. In other words, it clears the communication pathway between the stomach and the brain, reducing hunger sensations faster.
Whole Summer Fruits
Nothing beats the juicy natural sweetness of whole summer fruits that are in season. And some of the best for satisfying sweet cravings or adding wholesome sweetness to desserts and/or smoothies, include:
Fresh berries and mango chunks are ideal frozen for later use in smoothies.
Additionally, the whole dried fruits in our handcrafted Raw Food Pulse provide a delightful sweetness that satisfies hunger pangs and sweet cravings that may show up in between meals or throughout your day.
The Main Takeaway
The human body needs a certain type of natural sugar for energy production and body function.
However, the key thing to realise is that not all sugars are created equal. In fact, sugars that have been refined and chemically processed are extremely harmful to the body and should be avoided.
With all of the complexity around the topic of sugar, the main thing is to keep it simple by keeping in mind this important distinction:
There are only really two types of sugar:
1. PLANT MADE and
2. MAN MADE.
The trick to avoiding harmful sugar addictions, is knowing the difference between these two types of sugar so that you can easily make the right choices.
The good news is that nature provides a wonderful selection of natural sweeteners that not only will satisfy your sweet cravings, but will energise you and help you to avoid disease as well.
Don't be fearful of sugar or give up sweet things. Just stick to the nature-made unrefined varieties of sweet foods and you'll be doing the best for your health.
Tolman Self Care.