Well, the holiday season is here. Candy is literally everywhere and everyone is thinking about those tantalizing, decadent desserts so prevalent this time of year. Some of you may disagree (ha!), but I thought now would be a good time to take a closer look at sugar.
Most granulated sugar originates from the sugar beet and sugarcane plant. Did you know that there are powerful companies who have genetically modified the sugar beet so that it will tolerate repeated spraying with herbicides? And that the EPA has just increased the allowable amount of herbicide residues on the actual plant part that becomes sugar by 5000%? Now think about this: half of the world’s granulated sugar comes from the sugar beet. GM sugar is already in most all processed foods in the form of high fructose corn syrup, including your children’s breakfast cereals, but before long it will be in your sugar bowl and in all of your favorite homemade treats. The only way to avoid this is to buy organic and cook all of your meals from scratch. If you are not aware of the dangers of genetically modified food (known as GM or GMO or GE for Genetically Engineered) then you need to watch “The Future of Food,” a documentary produced by Deborah Koons Garcia, at www.mercola.com. Or visit www.futureoffood.com.
Back to sugar. Even if it isn’t genetically modified, sugar has been through 10 steps in the refining process before it ever reaches your sugar bowl. Even organic sugar. And by the way, organic sugar is nothing but a guarantee that it is not GM. The extensive processing of sugar cane removes the vitamins, enzymes, protein, and minerals that God originally put there and leaves you with a substance not only devoid of all nutrition but harmful to your health. The list of ways sugar damages your health is mighty long. Here is a sampling: Sugar can …suppress your immune system; interfere with your body’s ability to absorb valuable minerals; increase your bad cholesterol and triglycerides and even lower your good cholesterol; cause hyperactivity, anxiety, and crankiness in children; feed cancer cells (especially breast and ovarian cancer, among others); cause autoimmune disease (including arthritis); cause depression; contribute to Alzheimer’s Disease; lead to addiction; cause learning disorders; cause hormonal imbalances …. And much, much more. I didn’t even mention tooth decay, fatigue, gallstones, ulcers, or heart disease! For 24 hours after eating sugar, your immune system is literally suppressed making you more susceptible to colds and viruses every time you eat a piece of candy, drink a soft drink, have some ice cream, or have “just one” cookie.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is another, even more dangerous, form of sugar. It is the number one source of calories in the U.S. due to soft drink consumption. HFCS is also in most processed foods. It is sugar from corn. Based on all that I have read, the corn that isn’t pretty enough to sell as corn (and this includes most all GM corn) gets shipped off to the processing plant where it is processed so many times I couldn’t begin to list all of the by-products that wind up in your different processed foods. But HFCS is one of them. It carries with it all the dangers of regular old sugar except it is worse because your body metabolizes it faster than any other sugar. On a side note, did you know that because of the numerous by-products from the processing of corn that go into your food, examination of a snip of any American’s hair or fingernail would reveal corn isotopes? Yes. Check it out in Michael Pollan’s book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, pages 19-23.
If you have read my previous blog entries, you will know that it doesn’t take rocket science to see that God did not create white sugar or HFCS. All good things come from God, and these are not good things. These sugars are definitely not whole foods, they are not nutrient dense or synergistic or anything good at all! God did create us to enjoy sweet things, however, and he perfectly designed sweeteners for us to enjoy that would boost our health at the same time.
Raw honey is yet another amazing whole food creation. It tastes great and at the same time is loaded with nutrition. In fact, according to Beth Holland’s booklet, “Some Common Nutritional Fallacies,” honey is made of at least 165 different components, including “amino acids, enzymes, vitamins, minerals and at least 25 different kinds of sugar.” Unlike sugar, raw honey actually helps your body’s metabolism. Honey is anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. It contains vitamin B2, B6, iron, manganese, and a slew of many other nutrients. I read about a study where honey was used on the incisions of c-section patients. These patients had far less infection and more rapid healing than the patients treated conventionally. Honey has many medicinal uses, whether topical or internal, from sunburns to coughs. You shouldn’t be surprised that honey can do so many things because, after all, God created it just for us. Don’t forget Proverbs 16:21 where God gives us the bottom line on honey … it is sweet to the soul and health to the bones. But remember this is talking about raw honey. Pasteurization destroys all of these great things, and most honey at the grocery store has been pasteurized.
Other natural sweeteners that God created for us include molasses and maple syrup. Like honey, both of these have nutritional value. Maple syrup is an excellent source of manganese and zinc. This makes it rich in antioxidants. Maple syrup is also good for prostate health, your immune system, and your heart. Maple syrup that has been cooked over a wood fire, the traditional way, is the best because it avoids equipment that has been cleaned with formaldehyde. My favorite source for maple syrup is www.vermontel.com/~knsh. Molasses, especially Blackstrap Molasses, is loaded with good things as well. It is rich in iron, calcium, copper, manganese, potassium and magnesium. It is good for your bones, your heart, skin, hair, hormones, nervous system, and boosts your energy. Make sure you buy unsulphured molasses so it is free of processing chemicals.
Sucanat is yet another healthy sweetener. It is simply un-refined sugar cane. The brand name means Sugar Cane Natural. According to Wikipedia, Sucanat is simply pure, dried sugar cane juice which is extracted by machine then heated and cooled, which forms the brown granules. Because it is un-refined, Sucanat retains its molasses content. Sucanat is not as loaded with nutrients like honey, maple syrup and molasses, but of all the sugars derived from sugar cane, Sucanat is the most nutritious. It most resembles brown sugar in flavor but I have used it successfully as a one for one substitute for white sugar in recipes. Some people do not like its strong flavor and use Sucanat with Honey instead. I am not sure about this product, but I do know that it is still a better alternative than white sugar.
Everywhere I go it seems that someone is pushing candy on my kids. From the bank teller to church, there is candy everywhere. If your child participates in any kind of class, there is often a candy treat passed out at the end. Even in my 2 year olds mid-week Bible class, there is always candy passed out when class is over. Is this really the message we want to send to our children? That candy is a reward for having done nothing but show up? People think I am over the top when I complain about this. But think about it — diabetes, obesity, endocrine problems, auto-immune disease, depression, cancer, learning disorders ….addictions … “It’s just candy!”
God knew that we would enjoy sweet things. He talks about a land flowing with milk and honey. It is good for us to enjoy sweets on occasion, especially when they glorify our creator by nourishing our bodies! That, my friends, is so sweet.