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 Nutrition: Keeping Sugar in Balance  
 

4. Our problem with sweets comes from the frequency with which we eat them, and the quantity of sugar we consume. The type of sugar we eat is also a contributing factor. Refined sugar or sucrose (a disaccharide made up of two sugars -- glucose and fructose) is usually extracted from sugar cane or sugar beets, initially whole foods. However, most all of the nutrients are removed and retained only in the discarded extract called molasses. When the manufacturing process is complete, the result is pure sugar, a refined crystal that contains four calories per gram and essentially no nutrients.

5. Many nutritional authorities feel that the high use of sugar in our diet is a significant underlying cause of disease. Too much sweetener in any form can have a negative effect on our health; this includes not only refined sugar, but also corn syrup, honey and fruit juices, and treats such as sodas, cakes, and candies. Because sugary foods satisfy our hunger, they often replace more nutritious foods and weaken our tissue's health and disease resistance via stressing our immune system.

6. The use of sugar in our culture sometimes resembles a drug, and can be treated as such. If you are Œhooked,¹ make a clear plan for withdrawal, while working emotionally to eliminate the habit. Our responses to certain flavors, and the feelings we get from them are usually conditioned. Self-reflection can be valuable when trying to understand these compulsions. To stop bad habits and see things clearly, we may need to talk these feelings through, transitioning from compulsion to a safe and balanced lifestyle. Talk to your hands and guide them to reach for healthier foods and snacks.

7. From my discussion last month about the Glycemic Index, quick-absorbing sugars are more of a concern with our blood sugar and energy. It may be helpful to consume some protein, such as a few nuts or nut butter, when eating some simple sugar like fruit, or easily assimilated carbohydrates like rice, bread, or potatoes. Remember to read those labels in the stores; there are loads of hidden sugars in items you wouldn¹t even think should have added sweetener, and concentrated sugars in some juice drinks.

8. If we do crave sugar, there are several supplements that can help us utilize the sugar better as well as reduce our desire for those sweets. These include the B vitamins (25-50 mg of most twice daily), vitamin C (500-1,000 mg twice daily, calcium (250-500 mg), and magnesium (150-300 mg). Chromium helps our body utilize the sugars more efficiently; it is usually supplemented in 100-200 mcg twice daily, in the morning and about 3pm. Also, the amino acid, L-glutamine (500-1,000 mg 2 to 3 times daily), helps to feed the brain and reduce sugar (and alcohol) cravings.

9. Drinking plenty of water is crucial to keep the body balanced and lessen cravings and addictions. An alkalinizing diet reduces cravings as well and helps with detoxification. Also, regular exercise does the same. Don¹t be afraid to move that body for fitness with active aerobics and weight training. Yoga stretches can also give you inner and outer strength to be your true self. Walking in Nature is another way to get in touch with your inner nature and gain your will power.

10. There are usually emotional issues around excess sugar and carbohydrate consumption, and being overweight. Be open to explore these areas as you attempt to heal your habits and create a healthier body and weight. A support group or a counselor can help in this healing process. Good luck and make wise choices!

(Excerpted from Staying Healthy with Nutrition ISBN: 1587611791)
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 About The Author
Elson Haas MDElson M. Haas, MD is founder & Director of the Preventive Medical Center of Marin (since 1984), an Integrated Health Care Facility in San Rafael, CA and author of many books on Health and Nutrition, including ...more
 
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