Sugar has earned a bad reputation as it is linked to various diseases like diabetes, obesity, heart disease and cancer. The truth is that sugar is not only important for your body, it is also important for your life. However, it is important to understand what kind of sugar is good for you and what is not.
The sugar sold in grocery stores is an unnatural substance, i.e. it is produced by industrial processes mostly from sugar cane or sugar beets. It is refined with chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, phosphoric acid, calcium hydroxide, and activated carbon, and stripped of all the natural nutrition it originally had. By refining it down to sucrose and stripping away the vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes and other beneficial nutrients, what is left is a concentrated unnatural substance that the human body is not able to handle, let alone use.
It is interesting to note that 'raw sugar' - which most people think is natural - is also refined. Once the cane juice crystals are harvested, they are washed, boiled, filtered and dried. This process removes most of the fibre and nutrients existing in the original crystals. The sugar then becomes refined, with no nutritional value. The use of artificial sweeteners is often a case of trading one problem for another and is definitely not the path to good health. Needless to say, artificial sweeteners are more harmful than refined sugar.
Sugar is a deadly addiction; people not only develop a strong taste for it but also develop an insatiable craving for it. The reason: refined sugar stresses the pancreas and depletes the body's supplies of chromium. A common symptom of chromium deficiency is sugar cravings. Satisfying these cravings further lowers chromium and increases cravings. What's more, refined sugar depletes your body of all the B vitamins; it leaches calcium from your hair, bones, blood and teeth. As if that is not enough, sugar also affects your body's digestion. It ferments in your stomach and stops the secretion of gastric juices, inhibiting the stomach's ability to digest. Weight gain, mood swings and irritability are a some side effects from consuming too much sugar.
Sugar plays a major role in altering one's mood. Refined sugar has a chemical reaction on the brain by releasing serotonin - the 'feel good' hormone; this tricks the body into a temporary high, causing a rise in blood glucose levels. This 'feel good' lift is followed by the crash where you feel tired, irritable and even depressed.
So what's good for you?
Intrinsic sugars are natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. These sugars are not harmful to your health nor are they fattening. Natural sugars found in honey, fruits and vegetables are unprocessed and therefore rich in fibre and nutrients. A diet high in fruits and vegetables will ensure that your body gets the small amounts of sugar it needs, while providing you with far more health benefits than refined sugar.