By Eeka King B.H.Sc (Acup)
As a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner I often give people some dietary and lifestyle advice as an adjunct to their treatment. It gives the patient the opportunity to take some responsibility of their health and also greatly enhances the good work we are doing with acupuncture and herbal medicine. Diet and lifestyle factors have a big impact on the state of our health and wellbeing (along with constitution, emotions, environmental factors etc) and can contribute too many of our imbalances and diseases. One of the most common dietary changes I encourage people to make is to avoid/reduce refined & processed sugar or artificial/synthetic sweeteners and to only choose natural whole sweeteners. Below I will have a look at why sugar is so bad (I would go so far as to say evil) for the body and give you some better sweet options.
Commercial sugar as we know it comes in many forms with varying degrees of processing and refining. Basically sugar comes from the sugar cane; the cane juice is stripped of its molasses content (the dark rich part which is full of vitamins, minerals and is extremely high in iron), then heated at extreme temperatures which kills the enzymes and everything that’s good about it. That is what is called raw sugar. The processing continues from there with more refining with chemicals such as sulphur dioxide, lime, phosphoric acid, bleaching agents & viscosity reducers to get white sugar and then more processing to get castor sugar and then more again for icing sugar. Brown, turbinado or demerara sugar is simply refined, processed sugar with some of the original molasses added back into it (unfortunately, still bad for you). When natural sugar is refined and concentrated, the life force is dispersed and the natural balance upset.
Refined sugar is an evil poison that creates havoc in the body. Only during the last century has man’s diet included a high percentage of refined carbohydrates (sugars and flours). The amount the average westernised person consumes per day is astonishing. You only have to take a look into any supermarket aisle to get a good idea-it’s in everything. In nature, sugars and carbohydrates (the energy providers) are coupled with vitamins, minerals, enzymes, protein, fat and fibre and support life due to its body building and digestion enhancing components. Digestion of refined sugar (along with refined flour) is detrimental to life because it draws on the body’s own store of vitamins, minerals and enzymes for proper metabolism. Slowly and slowly you are robed of your good health.
Sugar heats the body up, suppresses the immune system, interferes with and lowers absorption of vitamins and minerals (especially calcium, magnesium & vitamin E), destroys fertility and feeds cancer cells and Candida. Sugar is one of the biggest contributors to all of our modern dis–eases. Coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, weight gain and obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis etc have a direct link to sugar consumption. Sugar creates mood swings, hyperactivity, poor concentration and ADHD in children as well as allergies and eczema. Sugar damages the internal organs and can cause hormonal imbalance, periodontal disease, tooth decay and premature aging. Once refined, sugar is no longer a food- it becomes a highly addictive drug.
“The difference between sugar addiction and narcotic addiction is largely one of degree.” William Dufty, Sugar Blues.
Natural sweeteners may be defined as a product that comes from nature that hasn’t been altered terribly and which the nutrients have not been removed, or the nutrients may be even more concentrated due to boiling down and evaporation. Therefore, if you are going to consume a sweetener, it is best if it comes from the fruit, herb, or vegetable kingdom and be as raw/living as possible (not overheated, and not overly processed) for optimum health.
Rapadura Sugar – Dehydrated cane juice granules
Rapadura sugar (Gur in India), is unrefined dried cane juice which is made by simply evaporating the water from the whole sugar cane juice. This whole sugar is actually highly mineralised and nutrient dense and has a balanced reaction in the body. It has a gorgeous golden colour and a unique caramel flavour. It is the perfect product for baking and the sweetening of food and drinks. Simply substitute 1 cup of rapadura for 1 cup of other sugars (e.g. white/raw/brown) in any recipe. You can buy it from most health food stores.
Raw Honey has many amazing health benefits. When it has not been heated it is loaded with amylases, nutrients and enzymes that digest carbohydrates. So it is also best to only use it in desserts that do not require heating.
The concentrated sap of huge deciduous trees, maple syrup is rich in trace minerals, brought up from below the ground by the tree’s deep roots. It imparts a wonderful flavour to cream based desserts and may be used in baked goods such as muffins and pancakes. Make sure you buy the real maple syrup (it is quite expensive) and not the common one as it is only flavoured sugar with a plethora or other nasties.
Stevia is a highly sweet herb derived from the leaf of the South American stevia plant and can be used by those who have sensitivity even to natural sweeteners. A little goes a very long way- a pinch of stevia is equal to a spoonful of sugar. As it does not add bulk, it is difficult to use successfully in baked goods; but is a good sweetener for salad dressings, whipped cream and pie crusts etc.
Other sweeteners that may also be used in moderation include coconut palm sugar, date sugar, molasses, malted grain syrups, sorghum syrup. Please avoid all other imitation sweeteners, including Agave (way to processed and high in fructose to be good for you)-so make sure you do your homework before you buy.
There are plenty of sweet foods in nature and when you get yourself off the sugar addiction you will be amazed at how sweet fruit, vegetables and grains actually are. Sweeteners (natural) can be kept to a minimum and only used on holidays or special occasions. According to Chinese medicine, long as we balance the sweet taste with the other four (sour, bitter, salty and pungent), we will maintain good health!
Phone the clinic on 02 66851 088 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make an appointment with Eeka.