Healthy Mom

The Skinny on Natural Sugars vs. Processed Sugars

Welcome to Talk Tuesday! Today we are discussing the difference between natural sugars and processed sugars. A lot of people have been asking me why my family and I eat a mostly sugar-free lifestyle. Here is the discussion!

As always…please feel free to send me some topics you’d like discussed for Talk Tuesday!

Natural Sugars vs. Processed Sugars

What are natural sugars?

Natural sugars are sugars that are found, well naturally. This includes fruits, veggies, and honey.

Glucose – refers to “simple” sugars, found in all foods that have carbohydrates. Glucose can be found in mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, etc. Glucose is vital to life and is in every single living molecule. It is also produced by your body and easily broken down by every cell in your body.

 Fructose – another “simple” sugar, it’s also referred to as fruit sugar, because its main source is fruits (and also honey). Fructose is a bit harder to break down, as only your liver breaks down significant portions of it. -organics.org

Processed sugars:

Processed sugars are natural sugars that are modified, combined and processed by us to make something with regular flavor and texture, such as white sugar.

Sucrose – combines (half) glucose and (half) fructose to become a “complex” sugar. Typically it’s extracted from sugar-beet plans or sugar cane to make your typical “table sugar”.

Other Types – High fructose corn syrup, Sucralose (Splenda) etc…

(expert obtained from organics.org)

 

The effects of that yucky stuff…

An abundance of added sugar may cause your liver to become resistant to insulin, an important hormone that helps turn sugar in your bloodstream into energy. This means your body isn’t able to control your blood sugar levels as well, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. -webmd.com

Now, I’ve already mentioned that I don’t mind sugar and sweets for my kids or I occasionally. I don’t think there is anything wrong with enjoying sweets every now and again. But, on a daily basis, these processed  and sugary foods can have a detrimental effect on not only your liver and pancreas, but your health. The way you feel is also effected because of that yucky stuff called processed sugar.

Yes, you may get a spike in energy right after you eat something with processed sugar in it, but you are followed very soon after with a “energy crash”. This is because of the spike in glucose levels, and then the hormone levels become “off balance” (dropping back again in a fast manner), causing you to feel tired, and have no energy.

Store-bought syrups

This morning, I made my yummy berry sauce (find Z’s Very Berry Sauce on my recipe page!). I poured it all over my kids French toast (look for my recipe on my Recipe page!). They gobbled it up! They couldn’t even tell that I used erythritol to sweeten it. Berries in and of themselves are very sweet. Especially when you get off processed sugars, so you really don’t need much to sweeten them. This was my yummy berry sauce…

Absolutely delish on French toast, pancakes, waffles and toast!

I’ve always been weary about buying syrups from the store. Don’t get me wrong, I do sometimes (especially when we’re on vacation), but after I read the ingredient labels….oooooo…I shudder.

Did you know that there are more than 35 grams of sugar per serving in traditional store-bought syrups? Holy crap! I don’t know about you, but knowing that I am letting my kids eat a crap-ton of sugar in one sitting makes me feel ridiculously guilty!

Think about it…

The recommended daily sugar intake is 25 grams for us women (heart.org).

If we are having syrup on our pancakes, or letting our kids eat it (God-forbid) with every pancake or waffle breakfast…That’s over DOUBLE of our daily recommended intake, in one sitting!!!

That’s a CRAP-TON of sugar.

Enter Trim Healthy Mama…

Enter the THM lifestyle! We absolutely love eating this way! If you haven’t looked into THM (trim healthy mama), then I highly suggest it! We eat like kings and queens here, and it’s all thanks to THM! No carb counting, no points watching, no stressing about what you can and cannot eat. Just good ole fashion healthy food! I don’t campaign for them or anything, and I am not a sales rep for them (do they even have those?), but when I believe in something…I talk about it!

The reason why we love it is because we try not to eat added sugar! But, THM allows you to eat all kinds of sweets! Don’t get me wrong…everyone consumes sugar. Wether it is fruit or candy, sugar is in a lot of things. The difference between healthy sugars, and processed sugars are astounding though!

Here is a diagram done by Harvard on the differences between the two types of sugars. (Please disregard the diet soda example. We don’t do diet sodas here very often because of the yucky stuff in them. The Sucralose (Splenda) content in those are not healthy on a regular basis.)

See, processed sugars cause a huge spike in blood sugar levels! Eating processed sugars on a daily basis, and in large quantities can cause so many health issues! It’s just not worth it to me. The long term effects are not very friendly.

The reason fruit is so good for you is because of the fiber that is in them. When you consume a piece of fruit, the fiber helps to metabolize it in a way that is not as damaging to your insulin levels. That is one reason why I find it important to drink the pulp of fruit when “juicing”. I just throw the whole dang things in my blender and drink them!

The Debate About Stevia

There has been a lot of talk about wether stevia, erythritol, xylitol etc are good for you. You have to do the research on it for yourself, but I believe that it is way better for your body and insulin levels that cane sugar or processed sugars.

Don’t get me wrong, these types of sugars (stevia etc) can be processed too. There is always a certain “process” that takes place to get the actual sweet stuff out of the plant or grain, etc. The important thing is to find the most healthy options out there. If you quality sweeteners, you won’t have to worry about that.

Truvia, Pure Via, and different forms of stevia blends are more processed, yes, but I would argue that they are far less detrimental to your waist line than standard cane sugars. I use Truvia and I love it. I prefer “blends” rather than pure stevia. Blends are just stevia with usually another sweetener added; for example, eyrthritol. I’m not a fan of the bitter taste that stevia has alone, but a lot of people actually like it. It is all based off of preference. I use Gentle Sweet (I get it here http://trimhealthymama.com) in my coffee every day. It is a quality and very lightly processed sweetener blend, and it tastes just like regular sugar to me. The great thing is, you need far less than traditional sugar for it to be sweet.

Be sure to buy quality sweeteners if you are going to use them on a regular basis.

Here’s the skinny…

So, when you see me posting sugar-free or no-sugar-added recipes, THAT is why. All the reasons I listed above, aren’t even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health issues involved with eating processed sugars. I only listed a couple reasons why we choose to eat the majority of our food in a sugar-free way. There will always be people who would argue that eating “sugar-free” is not good for you. But, I would say, you have to do whats best for your family. If it works, the “proof is in the pudding”, it will show on your body and in your health. If it doesn’t, maybe try something new.

Ever since my family and I have started this THM lifestyle, we have noticed such a difference in the way we feel and they way we look.

Obesity runs in my family. And it is something that I really have to be conscious of. I gain weight very easily, so I have to really pay attention to what works for my body. When I am “on plan”, I notice that my waist-line stays pretty trim, but when I don’t follow the right way of eating, I notice it right away.

I don’t desire to be extremely skinny or really thin, but I do want to be trim and to be fit. Taking processed sugar out of my diet has helped exponentially in that arena!

Of course, exercise is a great way to help with a lot of health issues too!

natural sugars vs. processed sugars
The family that works out together, stays together!

Ultimately, you have to what works for you. I encourage you to do your research on this subject, and really search out the truth for yourself. I hope that this post helps to “clear the air” a little bit on sugar.

Please let me know if there is any other topics you would like to see discussed! Below is a contact form. Please be sure to fill it out and list what you would like to see talked about, or any comments or tips about this post! Thanks!

-Z

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