For years now, we’ve been told to avoid the right things and consume the wrong things. Case in point: butter vs. margarine or raw milk vs. commercially processed nonfat milk. Instead of using what mother nature provides, we reach for an alternative option because supposedly, it’s better for us. But applying a bit of common sense to this conversation will expose the insanely crazy way of thinking that has all but taken over our approach to real food. And nothing could exemplify that more than the topic of sugar.
Almost every food that grows from the soil contains sugar. Even dairy contains a sugar known as lactose. Other sugars include maltose, sucrose, fructose, dextrose, galactose, and so on. But the problem is that many of these sugars have either been modified (processed), extracting them from their original form that lies within the food itself. And this is where the problem lies.
Here’s a great example. Sugarcane grows naturally in tropical climates. While harvesting, local farmers will often cut off a piece of the stalk and chew on it in order to extract the juice from the dense and pithy interior. The juice that comes out is, surprisingly, not sweet at all. In fact, it has a unique flavor that tastes nothing like sugar. But once the harvested sugar cane reaches the factory, the liquid is ‘juiced’ out of the plant, removing the extremely precious fiber along with other important phytochemicals, and delivered to us as white sugar aka white death. But when it’s packaged as part of the dense phytochemical makeup of the whole plant, the ‘sugar’ isn’t really sugar at all. It’s just the juice inside a plant that contains vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are beneficial to our health when consumed in the package mother nature gave us.
Stevia is another perfect example. This beautiful plant boasts leaves that contain incredibly sweet leaves which can be picked and eaten as is. But when was the last time you saw fresh stevia leaves in the produce department? Instead, as one of the most well-known alternative sweeteners, it can be conveniently purchased in a liquid form or as a fine, white, crystalline powder. Something clearly isn’t right. Processed stevia doesn’t taste anything like the leaves. It leaves a very distinct aftertaste that most people dislike. Sounds like the commercial product is a far cry from the original.
Another class of alternative sweeteners are known as wood alcohols. Sounds great, doesn’t it? One of the most common of these is xylitol which is derived from an indigestible substance called xylose. It’s obtained from the bark of birch trees and chemically processed into a crystalline alcohol. There are several other wood alcohols sweeteners in this family including erythritol, mannitol and sorbitol.
According to research in the 1950s, these chemical substances have been shown to cause a number of problems when consumed on a regular basis. They are unable to be broken down, and as you might expect, digestive issues are one of the most common side-effects for those who these this as their preferred sweeteners. Gas, bloating and diarrhea are the most common symptoms along with elevated blood sugar. But wait…Isn’t that why someone would opt for xylitol instead of sugar? To help manage blood sugar issues? It sounds like these sweeteners may be adding fuel to the fire.
But not to be outdone by the health-conscious consumer, the Coca-Cola Company introduced Truvia, a combination of processed stevia, erythritol and natural flavors. And if this isn’t bad enough, it seems as though all of these chemically-modified compounds can be difficult to eliminate and end up being stored as a toxic substance somewhere in the body.
Other potential side effects include Alzheimer’s Disease, cancer, obesity, asthma, Major Depressive Disorder, dermatitis, Diabetes and unexplained irritability and aggression. So far, I’m not convinced we should be using any of them.
Alongside these supposedly healthier sweeteners are the worst of the worst: aspartame, NutraSweet, Splenda, Equal, Sweet ‘N Low, and saccharine to name a few. These boast a laundry list of known side effects including seizures, numbness, migraines, dysbiosis, kidney damage, heart disease, Metabolic Syndrome, damage to the neurons in the brain and even death. So now what?
Instead of thinking we can outsmart what nature provides us, why don’t we consider embracing what’s already available? Consider for a moment the almost innumerable benefits of raw honey. When sourced right from the hive, raw honey is not only one of the most perfect foods on the planet but can actually help normalize blood sugar and dampen sweet cravings. Of course, too much of anything is never a good idea but when consumed every day, raw honey will not only improve your health in an amazing number of ways but not surprisingly, doesn’t have any side effects.
We focus on eating foods that are grown from the soil but what about the benefits from the flowers of these plants? The bees have a miraculous ability to transform the pollen within the flowers into a nutrient-rich, wonderfully-sweet substance that is considered to be the nectar of the Gods. It’s time to get rid of the alternatives and find some locally-produced raw honey. Your sweet tooth and your body will thank you for it!