You’ve probably heard of good fats and bad fats, but what about good sugars and bad sugars? Sugar is a carbohydrate that is naturally found in a variety of foods. An example of good sugar is the naturally occurring sugar found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. This type of sugar is bundled with water, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Bad sugar consists of regular table sugar or the refined stuff you find in sodas, candy, ketchup, or baked goods. The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar each day . Many of us consume sugar without even realizing it because ready-made foods, even savory ones like pasta sauce and bread, often contain sugar.
Sugar has gotten a bad rap for its negative effects on obesity rates and heart health. Some nutritional experts believe that it is sugar, not fat, that has contributed to the obesity epidemic. Sugar supplies energy in the form of calories, but it provides little else. This requires our body to draw on nutrients from the rest of our diet to process the sugar , affecting our health and hurting our immunity.
Consuming a lot of sugar also causes our blood sugar levels to spike, which makes us feel good momentarily, but then causes us to crash and have a slump afterward. This makes us feel tired and want more sugary foods. This vicious cycle can lead to obesity and chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.
Avoiding Sugar: An Anti-Aging Strategy?
In addition to being bad for your waistline, sugar also has detrimental effects on your skin. When you consume too much simple carbohydrates like refined sugar, they rapidly break down into glucose and cause your insulin levels to shoot up, and this causes inflammation throughout the body. The inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, leading to sagging skin and wrinkles.
The sugar you digest permanently attaches to the fats and proteins in your skin in a process known as glycation . Glycation forms advanced glycation end products (AGEs), which cause the protein fibers to become stiff and malformed. Collagen and elastin fibers, which are responsible for giving youthful skin a plump and smooth appearance, are the most susceptible to glycation. Glycation can make the collagen and elastin fibers in your skin become weak, discolored, and less smooth. This shows up on the skin’s surface as wrinkles and sagging. Glycation can increase the signs of aging skin and worsen skin conditions like acne and rosacea.
Sugarcoating the Truth About Artificial Sweeteners
Some people who are trying to avoid sugar opt for sugar-free artificial sweeteners instead, thinking that they are a healthier choice. However, artificial sweeteners can sometimes be just as bad, if not worse, than regular sugar.
Sucralose, aka Splenda, is a popular artificial sweetener. Although sucralose contains no calories, a study in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews , linked it to harmful biological effects in the body. Sucralose was shown to reduce good gut bacteria, limit the absorption of therapeutic drugs, and release potentially toxic compounds when baked. Sucralose is also associated with inflammatory bowel disease. Research published in Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism in 2013 associated sugar substitutes containing sucralose with Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.
If you want something sweet, your best choice would be to use a natural sweetener like stevia. Unlike sucralose, stevia is plant-based and studies show that it is safe . It has no calories and is 200 times sweeter than sugar in the same concentration, but it doesn’t raise your blood sugar level. There are even studies suggesting that stevia has health benefits for conditions like hypertension. However, stevia may cause low blood pressure, which is a cause for concern among those taking blood pressure medications. Stevia may also interact with anti-inflammatories, anti-cancer drugs, anti-fungal meds, and other medications, so it’s advisable to talk with your doctor before taking stevia in large amounts.
Sugars That You Should and Shouldn’t EatThere are many types of natural sugars that are marketed as being healthier alternatives to table sugar, like coconut palm sugar. Coconut sugar is made from extracting, boiling, and dehydrating the sap of the coconut palm. Manufacturers of coconut palm sugar claim that it has a low glycemic index , which means that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels like table sugar does. Coconut sugar is also hyped up because it retains minerals from sap . But just to get 1,030g of potassium, or one-quarter of the recommended daily allowance, you would have to consume 100g (25 teaspoons) of coconut sugar, so the advantages are minimal. Coconut sugar shouldn’t be treated any differently than regular sugar because it provides just as many calories and carbohydrates, or about 15 calories and 4 grams of carbohydrates per teaspoon.
In addition to stevia, some good natural sweeteners are honey, maple syrup, and blackstrap molasses. These natural sweeteners have a lower glycemic index than table sugar and thus are less likely to cause blood sugar spikes. They also have added health benefits. For example, maple syrup contains up to 54 different types of antioxidants, honey has antimicrobial properties that help you fight colds, and blackstrap molasses is high in vitamins and minerals. Agave nectar isn’t considered a good option because of its high fructose content.
Why Fructose Is Bad for YouNearly every cell in the body can use glucose as energy, but only the liver cells are capable of breaking down fructose. A high intake of fructose has been associated with increases in obesity, diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, according to Harvard Health . Most fructose in the American diet comes from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and processed foods, not fruit, so it provides little in the way of nutrition besides calories. HFCS is problematic because in the process used to make it, the glucose and fructose, which are naturally bound together, are separated. This causes the fructose to go directly to your liver, which leads to fatty liver , and in turn, diabetes. HCFS also contains other toxins from the chemical contaminants used during manufacturing.
We cannot avoid having sugar in our diet. The only way is to be smart about the type of sugar we take everyday.
Best is to select a natural form of sugar and take care not to exceed daily recommended amount. Unfortunately sugar is used in all processed and ready made food, so be wise to select those that use good types of sugar.
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I grew up just outside of San Francisco. We lived in a nice cul-de-sac of newly constructed homes. I remember being in 3rd grade moving away from our smaller, older home in the Sunset district known for its side-by-side houses and fog.
To me, the other families around us seemed to be normal and happy—young families creating lives together.
Two girls who went to the same elementary school as my brothers and I lived a few houses away with their parents. From the outside, their lives seemed perfectly happy. They went to school just like us. Their parents would wave to us as we drove by and would stop by if we were outside and talk with my parents.
Then it all changed. We would hear arguing once in a while. Then the arguing became more frequent and more intense. Eventually, we stopped seeing the father doing normal household chores like taking out the garbage or washing the cars. Word spread that the parents had separated and gotten divorced.
Overnight, their mother looked like she had aged 10 years. What was once jet black hair had gone gray. What was once a youthful glow in her skin became a shade of drab.
How did she age so quickly? How was this possible? This was one of my first memories seeing stress drain the youth out of someone’s appearance.
Now that we got that out of the way, what causes this rapid aging?
Stress isn’t always a bad thing. A small amount of stress can motivate you to perform at your best and work well under pressure. Chronic stress, however, can take a toll on your appearance, including your hair, skin, and nails. Combined with the UV rays from the sun and pollution, stress creates the perfect recipe for aging skin.
we all lead hectic, busy lifestyles these days, there are steps you can take to
prevent the daily grind from wreaking havoc on your skin. From dehydrated skin
to fine lines and wrinkles, there are many conditions that could be cured with
the right skincare ingredients. The following are some botanical and herbal
extracts that hydrate, repair, and protect your skin, so you can reverse the
effects of your hectic lifestyle on your skin.
If you are someone who spends your hard-earned money on high-quality organic food and supplements, how do you know if you are getting the absolute best and that they are safe AND effective?
Americans spend more than $14 billion dollars a year on supplements alone.
This means that many of us are looking for ways to improve our health, look younger, prevent illness, and we are willing to spend our hard earned money to do it.
With so many options on the market, some better than others, you want to make the most informed decision for your money and your safety.In short: The quality of what you put into your system determines your health not just today, but months and years down the line. When you eat healthy foods, take the right supplements, and take care of your body, you are investing in your current and future health.