Most of us should know that excess sugar in our diets is bad for us.
Even if you don't drink soda or eat sweets, sugar can easily sneak into your diet. Food companies put sugar in everything. Beef jerky, condiments, dressings, soups, all kinds of beverages, the list goes on and on.
Sugar is out of control. It has become a real monster, ravaging our most precious asset: our health.
And you can't be angry with the food companies that peddle unhealthy, processed foods. Not at all. I'm certainly no saint myself. Companies set out to make money, and tasty junk foods and fast foods are huge money makers.
I believe that the right thing for food companies to do is use clean, organic, non-GMO, chemical and dye-free ingredients, but I also believe that the ultimate responsibility of healthy consumption falls on the consumer.
And indeed, more and more people are taking responsibility more and more everyday.
Food companies are paying attention to the fact that more and more people are buying organic/non-GMO foods, and they're adapting. Frito-Lay just recently came out with organic Doritos (which is great because original Doritos contain MSG), as well as other organic or non-GMO versions of their various chips.
Of course, organic doesn't equal healthy. There's plenty of organic sugar farmers to provide sweet pesticide-free goodness.
Sugar, heavy doses of salt and questionable oils tend to find their way into a large number of organic foods. I'm not saying that these ingredients need to be 100% avoided at all costs, but we should definitely be aware of how often and at what times we're consuming our favorite, delicious guilty pleasures.
If we can "tame" our sugar consumption by eating the optimal amount, at the optimal times, in sugar's optimal forms, our health with greatly benefit.
I'll provide an example. Let's say you like sugar in your morning coffee (as I do). Let's say on one particular day you wake up, make coffee, pour some white sugar into it, and then go about your morning as you sip your joe. Now let's imagine that on the following day you wake up, workout, eat a healthy breakfast, make coffee and put a tablespoon of raw, organic honey in it. Two scenarios that both bless you with sweetened coffee in the morning, yet are, nutritionally, vastly different.
First let's look at the "optimal amount" aspect of the two scenarios.
In the first, the white sugar was poured into the coffee with no measuring. One can certainly "eyeball" with some accuracy, but at the same time its very easy to dump way too much sugar in.
On day two, a measured amount of the honey was applied to the coffee, hence we know exactly how much sugar we're consuming.
Next let's examine the "optimal time" aspect.
On day one, we are pouring white sugar into our poor, empty stomachs. This unabated blast of refined sugar causes an unhealthy spike of insulin and blood sugar, leading to inconsistent energy levels and if done often enough and long enough, diabetes and other health issues.
The second time around, not only did we drink our honey-sweetened coffee on top of a healthy breakfast, but we knocked out a vigorous workout just beforehand.
So two big differences here.
When sugar is consumed along with or after a healthy meal consisting of quality proteins, fibers and fats, the sugar is absorbed by the body at a much slower, steady rate than if the sugar were consumed on an empty stomach.
Consuming sugar with or after healthy meals will keep energy levels much more consistent and your pancreas won't be taxed nearly as much.
This is why fruits aren't demonized as sugary treats, the plentiful fiber found in most fruits regulates the absorption of the sugars.
Difference number two is the fact that the best time for anyone to consume sugar or any other carbohydrate is right after a workout. Your body needs the carbs to make glycogen, which carries proteins to your muscles after a workout.
Finally, let's look at sugar's "optimal forms". Sugar comes in many forms these days, but our bodies do not process them all the same. White sugar, A.K.A. table sugar or granulated sugar, is sucrose, which is a chemically concocted combination of glucose and fructose.
Raw honey is a combination of glucose and fructose as well, but raw honey is not chemically processed and stripped of any nutritional value like granulated sugar is. Raw honey contains beneficial enzymes and anti-microbial compounds, as well as trace amounts of vitamins and minerals.
What I'm trying to say is, when it comes to health, it's not a black or white, all or nothing deal. I am not a fan of generalized blanket statements like, "sugar will make you fat" or "meat causes colon cancer."
If the only 2 things you consumed were sugar and meat, yeah, you'd be extremely unhealthy and possibly dead in no time.
I'm also not a fan the "all or nothing" mentality.
Whatever happened to baby steps? I'm a fan of making consistent, steady progress.
I'm not saying don't hit the gas and get aggressive about your health goals. By all means, go hard, tear it up! But we shouldn't dismiss small wins, because a win is a win, and they add up.
So in addition to making smart decisions about sugar and other foods, we can exercise, get sufficient sleep, eat nutrient dense foods and add herbs and spices to our diet.
We can customize our health tool bag to fit our lifestyles, goals and genetics.
Referring back to the morning coffee, I usually throw a couple sprinkles of organic cinnamon and clove into my java. This not only provides a nice flavor, but these two spices help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
So don't let anyone tell you that you should give up the foods and drinks you love permanently, 100%, forever.
Pick your spots, seek clean and organic ingredients, eat/drink slowly and really enjoy every bite/sip, and if you succumb to an entire bag of oreos, don't beat yourself up, it happens, just move on and make your next meal a colorful, organic salad (and hit the gym, lord knows you have the glycogen!).
Thanks for reading, much love to all!
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