Is sugar really that bad for us? As a self-confessed sugar addict I would like to say, emphatically no. Unfortunately, it seems I am incorrect. Aside from the well publicised message in our childhood that it is bad for our dental health, it has other negative consequences on our bodies. Now, I don’t want to be a doom-monger and preach that we should all cut sugar out of our lives now, before it’s too late (no melodrama here at all…). However, it may be worth having a break from one’s love affair with the sweet stuff and keeping it as a true treat. Before I give you some points to think about as to why we should do this, I would like to say that this conversation does not include naturally occuring sugars found in fruit. Furthermore, I am not going to leave you treatless as I have included a recipe for cookies that, whilst not as sweet as your palate may be used to, are still delicious (in a very healthy kind of way).
Why Sans Sugar?
Here are just a few points to consider before having your next sugar laden breakfast or snack.
- It lowers your immune system’s ability to respond to illness, suppressing it and thereby leaving it open to attack whilst it’s defences are down.
- It can lead to obesity, and has been linked with an increased risk of coronary heart disease and type II diabetes.
- Whenever we eat or drink something with a high glycemic load (or high in simple sugars) the pancreas has to release larger amounts of insulin. This eventually leads to a dramatic drop in our blood sugar levels. The body will then have to work harder to achieve balance and will signal that we need more food. However this food is needed in order to achieve internal stability rather than because our energy output has increased that much. Therefore, this extra food could lead to weight gain, unless regular exercise is part of your lifestyle, as excess food is eaten. Essentially, a high-fibre, low sugar diet is required as this provides the most stable blood sugar levels when ingested as well as having numerous other benefits.
- Decreasing ones sugar consumption can help in the management of mental illness by preventing dramatic drops in blood sugar levels thereby stabilising mood.
- For me, the most important reason for abstaining from sugar is that it keeps your body in as a natural and even a state as possible. When I give my body energy I want it to be from natural and wholesome sources that will nourish by body rather than tax it.
There are many other reasons for abstaining from sugar. Please feel free to post these, correct anything I’ve written (although I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible; i’ve included some examples of my sources below), or just post your experiences with or without sugar. For now, I will leave you with these sugar free treats that your body will love.
Peanut Butter and Raisin Cookies (from Barbara Cousins Cooking Without cookbook, and with modifications)
85g chopped, dried dates
85g dairy free margarine (I used PURE sunflower spread)
115g smooth peanut butter (I used Whole Earth’s organic variety)
1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract
85g rice flour
115g quinoa flakes
70g unsalted, chopped almonds
Pre-heat oven to 170C.
Put the dates and water in a saucepan, simmer and stir until the dates are soft and most of the water has dissolved. Remove the saucepan from the heat and add the margarine. Stir until the margarine has melted.
Pour the dates and margarine mixture into a separate bowl, add the rice flour, quinoa flakes,peanut butter and vanilla extract. Stir together until the mixture has thoroughly combined. Add the raisins and almonds, stir to combine once again.
Roll the mixture into small egg-sized balls, place on an ungreased baking tray and flatten with the back of a fork.
Bake the biscuits for 15 mins or so, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack.
Example of Sources (not following any particular referencing system and, for the record, I really don’t get on with the Harvard referencing system)
Oral disease volume 15(6), “Nutrition and Health: Guideline for Dental Practitioners”, by C Palacios, KJ Joshipura, WC Willett (2009)
Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care volume 9(1), “Impact of Nutrition on Ageing and Disease”, by Bengmark, Stig (2006)
The Great American Detox Diet by Alex Jamieson (2005)