Let’s face it, we all love sugar in some way, shape, or form. For many, it’s chocolate. For others, ice cream, cookies, or cotton candy. Regardless of what satisfies your sweet tooth, it’s important to understand the negative effects excess sugar consumption can have on the body.
Research has shown sugar to be extremely addictive as it stimulates the pleasure and reward centers of the brain. Studies on rodents that were given the option to consume either sugar or cocaine showed that the rodents preferred the sugar. Sugar can act very similar to drugs in the way it affects the brain, as it alters mood and emotions.
Now, before you weep with sorrow at the thought of never being able to consume your favorite sweets again, there is good news: there are many ways to consume deliciously satisfying sweets and desserts without damaging your body. The idea is not to eliminate sugar from your diet completely, which would be nearly impossible and downright depressing. The goal is to minimize consumption of processed sugars that are void of any nutritional substance and to seek foods and snacks that are prepared with high quality sweeteners, of which there are many to choose from.
As with any food, the amount of processing involved in its production greatly affects its nutritional quality and how beneficial it is to the body, and sugar is no different. The majority of processed foods (think conventional candy bars, cold cereals, sodas, and just about everything in a gas station food aisle) are loaded with heavily processed and chemically altered sugars. These sugars are void of any nutrition and are very damaging to the body, particularly the stomach, liver, and cardiovascular system.
When looking at the ingredients label on food packages, avoid anything containing corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup. Foods that have no added sugar are best. Artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose should also be avoided as they are toxic to cells and impair gut health.
Here are some sweeteners that you should be looking to use or consume:
- Raw Honey
- Coconut Sugar
- Pure Maple Syrup
As with any food, getting the above sweeteners in their most raw and organic form is best. They can be purchased at most grocery stores in the natural foods section or at online retailers.
Stevia is a great sweetener to use as it contains no sugar and has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Honey, coconut sugar, and maple syrup all contain sugar, so it’s important to consume them in moderation. However, they all contain nutrients that are very beneficial to the body.
There are many delicious snacks and desserts that utilize the above sweeteners, which makes it easy to satisfy your sweet tooth without damaging your body. A simple online search will yield hundreds of recipes.
Fruits can also be great for satisfying a desire for sweet as they contain many beneficial nutrients but should also be consumed in moderation as they often contain high levels of sugar.
As for anyone addicted to conventional sodas, try consuming Zevia brand soda instead. It is sweetened with stevia and much less damaging to the body.