Sugar is the much-loved and quite an addictive substance most people consume in varying degrees throughout life. It’s not just eating cakes, cookies, donuts, candy...it is in just about everything, especially processed foods. Some classify refined sugar as a drug and poison because it is depleted of its life forces, proteins, minerals, and vitamins. Have you heard about the dangers of consuming too much sugar? Well here it is- it affects our state of mind, mood, energy, and can lead to hormone disruption, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even organ malfunction. While it gives you a spike in energy immediately after it is consumed, overuse of sugar and the toxic ingredients in artificial sweeteners will rob you of your health. This article tells you everything you need to know about the dangers of refined sugar, alternative sweeteners, and the amazing monk fruit sweetener.
Shocking Truth About Sugar
Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates and is in all foods that contain carbohydrates such as fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. Although it is added to foods to extend shelf life and increase flavor it has no nutritional value. It does nothing for you besides filling your head with fake good feelings. Refined sugars are those that have been processed and are toxic to our system. These sugars cause inflammation, weight gain, and supports the growth of cancer cells (which love sugar). It is common for people to get addicted to it because sugar stimulates the nucleus accumbens area of our brain and is flooded with large amounts of the feel-good neurohormone dopamine. Just like drug addiction, we start to chase that good feeling we experienced the very first time we had a sugary treat, but over time that sensation is dulled. The reason is that the overuse of sugar or any other drug that stimulates dopamine production causes dopamine receptors to downregulate. This means you have to eat more and more of that substance to get that same good feeling or “high.”
Sugar is an excitotoxin and excitotoxins are tasty by deadly chemicals that excite neuron receptors, which act as a communication highway in our brains. These chemicals cause our neuroreceptors to fire at an accelerated rate until they wear themselves out and eventually die off. They are usually recognized as amino acids, and are in so many processed foods in the American diet they may seem impossible to avoid. While amino acids, even one of the more common excitotoxins MSG, occur naturally in small amounts in some foods, scientists take these compounds and make them cleaner and more powerful and saturate processed foods with them to make them more appealing. Unfortunately, excitotoxins can be found everywhere, and you may not even recognize them unless you pay careful attention to the ingredients in your food. Some of the most common types and names for excitotoxins are MSG used as a flavor enhancer, aspartate an artificial sweetener, domoic acid found in shellfish, cysteine used in the creation of artificial flavors. Excitotoxins may make your food taste good, but they are addictive and can have serious long-term side effects, some of which are nearly irreversible. Eating more antioxidant foods can help your body clear out the damage caused by these excitotoxins.
Way back, the preference for sugar had an evolutionary advantage by leading people to seek out ripe fruits, which are sweet and serve as a good source of calories, but now it’s become out of control with Americans consuming on average, 150-170 pounds of sugar per year according to the USDA. You may be thinking, “I do not consume that much.” Let’s imagine 30 to 34 five-pound bags of sugar lined up next to each other on a counter. Now imagine one person, perhaps yourself, eating ALL of that sugar. We can also take into account that for every American who eats only 5 pounds of sugar each year, there is one who eats about 295 pounds per year. That is A LOT of sugar – especially when you compare it to how much we used to consume in the past. To put things into perspective, during the early 1800s, the average intake of sugar was only about 4-6 pounds per person per year… not 150, 170, or 295 pounds! With each passing decade, there has been a steady increase in sugar consumption among the United States’ population. The recommended acceptable amount for an adult woman is a limit of 6 teaspoons of added sugar in a day and for men, it’s suggested limiting it to 9 teaspoons a day.
Sugar hides in many different forms and comes with many different names in prepackaged foods:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Natural Sweetener
Many people are working toward reducing or even avoiding sugar making alternative sweeteners more popular. When trying to make healthier choices and get a handle on a “sweet tooth” we often turn to more “natural” sugars for a replacement. Maple syrup, honey, and monk fruit are much cleaner options. Monk fruit may be less known to some, but it is very powerful.
Monk fruit is a small round fruit in the gourd family, also known as Luo Han Guo, named after the Luo Han monks who discovered it. It earned the name ‘the immortals’ fruit’ because it was thought to be the secret to longevity. Monk fruit has been around for centuries and has an unmatched natural sugar-like sweetener with zero calories, zero carbs, and does not raise blood glucose levels. It is high in unique antioxidants called mogrosides, which make it 100–250 times sweeter than white table sugar.
The sweetener is created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit and crushing it to collect the juice, which is then dried into a concentrated powder. During processing, mogrosides are separated from the fresh-pressed juice. Therefore, monk fruit sweetener does not contain fructose or glucose. However, unlike in most fruits, the natural sugars in monk fruit aren’t responsible for its sweetness. Monk fruit gets its intense sweetness from unique antioxidants called mogrosides, not its natural sugar within the fruit.
It was FDA approved in 2010 and the extract is now used as a standalone sweetener, an ingredient in food and drinks, a flavor enhancer, and a component of sweetener blends. Many manufacturers mix monk fruit sweetener with other natural products, such as inulin or erythritol, to reduce the intensity of the sweetness. It may aid in weight management some studies show that mogrosides have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Monk fruit is a great replacement for refined sugar and comes with extra antioxidant benefits as well. Replacing sugar with natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, or coconut sugar is good, but remember these naturally occurring sweeteners are still forms of sugar, so be careful not to go overboard. When it comes to monk fruit it’s a different story, a unique sugar replacement like no other. Most nonnutritive sweeteners can cause side effects like gas, bloating, or allergic reactions and some artificial sweeteners like Equal, Stevia, and Splenda are controversial. In the case of monk fruit sweeteners, there are no known side effects. Eating whole and unprocessed foods is ideal and the best way to avoid refined sugars, but there are acceptable healthy options for when you are wanting the sweetness of sugar.
Overall, refined sugar is not beneficial to our bodies and optimal health. It is best to eliminate processed sugar from your diet. Incorporating monk fruit extract can help you achieve the goal. While it might seem challenging at first, once your body has detoxified itself from it, you will have fewer cravings and it will get easier every day. If you would like more information or have questions please reach out to us.