Friday, February 24, 2012

Soooo Sweet: Sugar, Your Biggest Enemy

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Welcome Back

It’s Friday, time to further investigate our Paleo plan for healthy eating in 2012.

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Public Enemy Numero Uno

Today we will examine the top Food Predator: Sugar. Sugar may seem tasty, but it is the body’s number one enemy and a threat to your well-being. A dangerous food and beverage additive that will keep you sick and unhealthy, it’s everywhere, and it often cleverly wears disguises that can be absolutely alluring.

Sugar leads to a host of unhealthy problems, from tooth decay to diabetes. Check out this comprehensive list by Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., on 146 reasons why sugar is ruining your health.

In addition to health problems, sugar actually contributes to the aging process. I just received this fascinating email today from Dr. Mercola, identifying sugar’s role in the glycation process and how it destroys your skin and can eventually lead to death! An impressive resumé for something that started out so very sweet.

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Getting Hooked on Sugar

Remember that the Paleo diet harkens back to primitive times, when hunters and gatherers did not have refined sugar available. Any sugars that the people ate came from limited amounts of natural sources. Refined sugar, courtesy of the industrial revolution, is fairly new in the scheme of history, being readily available within about the last two centuries.

Initially not part of our ancestral diet, the small amount of sugar that primitive man ate was enough to supply a reasonable amount of carbohydrates for energy, but because of the exorbitant amounts Americans and other countries consume today, we are being drowned in simple syrup.

A Quick Fix: The Sugar Trap

The affordability and immediate gratification provided by refined sugar has permitted it to be added to most foods that we eat, whether you realize it or not, because it enhances the flavor and compensates for substandard ingredients.

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Hidden Sugars

Sometimes it’s obvious, but sugar can also be quite cloaked. Sugar lurks in unsuspecting places–places that seem innocuous. We have already discussed how mayonnaise and ketchup contain hidden sugars. These are just two of the untrustworthy condiments that seem like an everyday necessity, but they will only raise your insulin levels, keeping you addicted to sweets. It can be difficult to find mayo and ketchup without sugar, but it’s not impossible. Remember to read your labels when shopping.

It’s in the Mix

You’ll find most commercial sauces are laden with sugar–of course any kind of prepared spaghetti sauce you buy in the market will have a ton of sugar. Just read the label on the back of the jar and you’ll see. Barbeque sauce, cocktail sauce–they all have one hidden culprit: sugar.

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Rotten Tomatoes

What may surprise you is that most canned tomato sauces have added sugar in some form to compensate for poor-quality ingredients. The food industry is pretty rotten, and your well-being is the last thing on their mind. It’s unfortunate that such corruption exists in our world, but I guess the greedy parties responsible for such evil will simply have to live with that for the rest of their lives, assuming it bothers them in the first place.

Sweet Disguise

Sugar comes in different forms, such as corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup, cane juice, cane syrup, agave nectar, honey, molasses, and other seemingly benign ingredients.

It may seem sweet, but trust me when I say that it’s definitely not good for you, and it is absolutely addictive. Stay away from sugar. The less you consume, the less you’ll want.

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Liquid Sugar

In what you drink, sugar is quite prevalent. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that sodas are not a health food. They’re loaded with sugar, among a multitude of other added sins.

Also guilty as charged are sweetened energy drinks, like Red Bull, or performance drinks like Gatorade; teas like Snapple; so-called ‘healthy’ drinks like Vitamin Water…these insincere food offerings may profess to provide one thing, but in fact they have a very different motive, and you should steer clear of them altogether.

The Juice is Good, No?

In juices as well–be it fruit or vegetable–you will find a ton of empty sugars, even if there is no added sweetener. Additionally, juices are heat-processed. This procedure kills any redeeming nutritional value. And often, the fruit or vegetable is derived from pesticide-laden produce, which is not a good thing.

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If you decide to indulge in something sweet, try using my favorite sweetener up my sleeve, Stevia. All natural with zero calories, zero carbohydrates and a zero on the glycemic index, stevia will not raise your blood sugar and is an ideal choice for everyone, but especially diabetics.

Otherwise, consider moderation. My old philosophy used to be “I can resist anything except temptation.” Nowadays, it’s “Living well is the best revenge.”

See you around.

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