This post is going to be a two part section related to sugars, additives, and preservatives. Two weeks ago I started writing for our local Banner newspaper, and have been giving pieces of information dealing with small portions of this topic, but I believe it is worth further explanation. I have been studying and writing this on and off as I wanted to make sure I did plenty of reliable and scientific research on the topics. So while my blog DOES contain plenty of my own personal opinions, I tried to gather information that is as factual as possible to present it here. I rely heavily on nutritionist’s expertise. I am NOT a nutritionist, and everyone has different bodies and medical conditions, so if you have further questions regarding your personal health – I encourage you to reach out to your doctor. I am happy to answer questions to the best of my abilities, especially in regards to overall health, exercise, nutrition, and clean eating.
Okay, so what’s all the rage about clean eating? You have heard it makes you feel better, is better for your metabolism and internal organs, and can lead to awesome benefits like clear skin, healthy heart, and possible longevity. But the question stands, is it necessary? The short answer is yes (mostly) and no (sometimes).
As I have been discussing sugars in my newspaper community, this first post will concentrate on more in depth information starting with them. Naturally occurring sugars versus refined or processed sugars, let’s explain the difference.
Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate that the body converts into glucose and proceeds to use for energy.
Natural sugars are found in fruit as fructose, and in dairy, milk and cheese, as lactose. They provide essential nutrients, and we get the benefits of these sugars through eating clean, whole foods. The fibers in fruits provide satiety, leaving us feeling fuller longer.
Refined (with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing) or processed sugars come from sugar canes or sugar beets, and are processed to extract the sugar. It is added to foods and typically found as sucrose, which is the combination of glucose and fructose. This is the white and brown sugar we use as sweeteners. Processed foods add sugar with little nutritional value.
Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including flavored yogurt, tomato and spaghetti sauce, and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.
Refined sugars are absorbed more rapidly, causing skyrocketing insulin and blood sugar levels. They leave you feeling hungrier after eating. Eating more refined or processed sugar has resulted in increased obesity rates in adults and children. Obesity has been linked with certain cancers, heart issues, and other health concerns.
The overall points here are to READ YOUR FOOD LABELS, and make informed choices. You have to pay attention to the ingredients in your food. The “total sugar” number on the label will NOT distinguish natural versus refined sugars. Go to the ingredients list where the ingredients are listed in descending order according to amount in the product. We as a family have made slow and small changes along the way. Writing down the packaged and canned foods we purchase most helped us TONS. I took the list to the stores (our natural store as well as our United) and compared ingredients and prices. What irritated me the most is the Natural Grocers store charged more simply for the GMO free and organic products. I could get on a soapbox here (I am a farmer’s wife after all), but I will spare you. I then bounced over to our United Market Street, and they had similar items (if not the exact same ones), for better prices. Seymour friends, our local United did have some options, but obviously the Market Street in Wichita has more variety.
Should you chunk everything in your pantry and fridge and start fresh? If that is how you stick to things, go for it. But long term success in my opinion is achieved by having realistic goals. Are my kids going to stop drinking juice? No. But we stopped buying the apple juice with 28g of sugar per serving and decreased it to the “light” 14g and still fill their cups with half juice, half water. We tried the honest company’s boxes, and while they are lighter on sugar (9g per juice box), my kids do not like them – and they are pricey. So that is not realistic for us. Same thing with yogurt. My kids LOVE yogurt, but they will not eat the greek plain stuff. Can you blame them? So I shop for yogurt with less than 10g of sugar per serving. Yoplait has a “light” version that still tastes great, and the kids don’t know the difference. Win.
Sugar is ADDICTING. I am so, SO serious about that. I have battled a sweet tooth my entire life. Cutting it out completely is doable, but very difficult. I encourage decreasing sugar, and being conscientious of the sugars in your food. Ways to do that are read labels, drink more water, keep it out of your house, increase your protein and fiber intake, get more sleep, and treat yourself once a week. From a consumer standpoint (forget for a second that I am a health trainer here), when I focus on limiting sugar, I notice a SIGNIFICANT decrease in my cravings for it.
KEY:Decrease refined and processed sugar as much as possible, but don’t beat yourself up over it. Have realistic expectations, and instead of trying to completely cut sugar – choose more naturally occurring options, and then treat yourself every once in awhile!
As far as additives and preservatives within the products we eat, I will hit on that enchilada next post!
Thanks for taking the time to read. I hope you learned something that you can realistically apply for better health for you and your loved ones!
**the information provided comes in part from cancercenter.com. Check their website for more information on how sugar can contribute to certain cancers.