The sugar story - The not-so-sugar-coated truth about refined sugars

You may have noticed that eating ‘sugar free’ is a big topic at the moment, and it’s fast becoming part of the healthy eating trend. While there are huge benefits to eating healthily, it is important to understand exactly what this really means.

Recently the World Health Organisation recommended that we have only six teaspoons of ‘added sugar’ a day. ‘Added sugars’ refer to sugars that are removed from their original source and/or added to foods, such as refined sugars, dried fruit 
and fruit juice, not to mention all the sugar in processed foods. This doesn’t include naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables and dairy when kept in their original form.

Most of us are aware that refined
 or processed sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, white, raw and brown sugar, are not the best option as they are usually more than fifty percent fructose. The reason for this is that the liver is the only organ in the body that can metabolise fructose in significant amounts. When fructose is able to reach the liver very quickly (as it does in foods with added or refined sugar), the liver cannot regulate the sugar. Instead, it’s rapidly turned into fat, which in turn can create health issues and disease.

In fact, scientists believe excess fructose consumption may be a key driver of many of the most serious diseases of today. Not only that, excess sugar can have a very detrimental effect on the quality of our collagen, resulting in premature ageing of skin and wrinkles (which in itself, is a very good reason to reduce added sugars!).

Natural sugars such as raw honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, rice malt syrup and fruit are fantastic alternatives as they generally have a lower glycemic index as well as providing other nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for good skin and health. And they taste great too!

The health benefits of natural sweeteners:
Raw honey: Raw honey contains many beneficial properties such as pollen and other vitamins and enzymes. Manuka honey has great antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties as well. Choose raw and organic where possible.

Coconut sugar: Delicious and rich in vitamins, particularly
in Vitamin B, which is needed for maintaining healthy skin and cell development. Our bodies need a supply of B Vitamins on a daily basis and they are especially helpful for those who are pregnant, breast-feeding and those who are stressed.

Maple syrup: If you can, it’s important to choose 100 percent pure and raw maple syrup. It’s more expensive than the sugary manufactured version, but it’s high in health-giving vitamins including manganese, zinc and potassium. Manganese acts as a coenzyme that facilitates numerous metabolic processes in the body including the formation of connective tissues, calcium absorption and blood sugar regulation, while zinc plays an important role in skin healing.

Rice malt syrup: This natural sweetener is high in essential B vitamins as well as magnesium. Magnesium is essential for keeping your skin performing at its best by providing enzymes with the tools they need to do their job of reducing the free radicals that cause damage and inflammation.

Fruit: Fruit provides both sweetness and fibre. Compared to refined sugars, fruit has very low levels of fructose. What’s more, the fibre in fruit helps to slow down fructose absorption so it doesn’t overload the liver, plus it’s also important for bowel health, which is closely linked with skin health.

Note: Avocadoes and coconuts are also a good source of sweetness as they contain next to no fructose and plenty of healthy, satiating fats, helping you feel fuller for longer (and they’re wonderful for your skin too!). Fats such as coconut oil or butter also enables the vitamins A, D, E and K to be absorbed properly by the body.

Article supplied by Janine Tait

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