June 19, 2015

Whole (Integral) Sugar and Sweetener Alternatives

Whole natural sweet cane grows abundantly in most tropical climates all over the world. Locals chew it as a candy and never suffer any ill effects from it because...it is whole.   In order to be able to keep it on the shelves in developed countries and sell it to the masses, it is put through the meat grinder...err.. I mean...processing, so many times until all the nutrients and natural coloring are gone, turning this natural sweetener into something toxic and deadly to the body:  pure white sugar.

Manufacturers then wrap it up in a pretty package and label it as being PURE in big bold letters. It is "purely" refined – it is one of the most toxic substances known to man sold in the food department of grocery stores.  P is for plastic. U is for ulcer. R is for radical and E is for Enemy. That spells P.U.R.E Sugar.

Refined Sugar is Addicting

Factorized Sugar is highly addictive, but most people do not realize they have made eating sugar a habit because they aren’t keeping tabs on the amount they eat over a period of time. Most people rationalize that unless they're eating donuts, ice-cream, or drinking soda, they don’t think they are eating sugar. But let’s look further.

Here’s a typical day for one person who thinks they don’t eat refined sugar. This is for example purposes only.

For breakfast: Coffee with sugar, pancakes with maple syrup, or toast or bagel with jelly, or eggs with ketchup (ketchup as LOTS of sugar). Amount of sugar in this meal is 2 to 6 teaspoons.

For lunch: Coffee with sugar or iced tea with sugar, a chicken salad with sugary laced dressing, such as Ranch or Thousand Islands.  Or if eating a sandwich, a sandwich on white wheat bread, (which turns into sugar in the body through the digestive process). Depending on what kind of sandwich, it too might have a sugary sauce of some kind like mayonnaise (mayo is full of sugar) or ketchup, etc. Amount of sugar in this meal is from 2 to 6 teaspoons.
 

Refined Sugar is the Cause of Blood Sugar Issues

By the way, if eating the typical almuerzo in Cuenca, the juice drinks are made with refined sugar, and the white rice converts into sugar during the digestive process. So these meals are actually quite unhealthy. It’s no wonder that diabetes is one of the top health issues of Ecuadorians.

FYI: We’ve lived in Cuenca Ecuador for four plus years and still have not found a mayo without sugar! We’ve filled out the forms at grocery stores that ask people what items they would like for the store to provide on the shelves, and we keep writing we would like “no-sugar mayo”, still waiting.
In the meantime we just make our own which is simple to do anyway…so no worries. But for convenience sake when you’re in a hurry, it would be nice to see a brand of mayonnaise without sugar sold in grocery stores in Cuenca.

For dinner: Refined white pasta with meat, white wheat bread, and salad with sugary dressing, juice with added sugar, or soda pop, or iced tea with sugar, or coffee with sugar, or glass of wine.  Let us remind you that both the pasta, white bread and wine converts into sugar through the digestive process.  Amount of sugar in this meal is 2 to 6 teaspoons at the very least.

The above meals are typical meals that apparently (healthy) people normally eat on a day to day basis and who have no idea of the amount of sugar they are ingesting in a single day.  


If you feel draggy and tired after eating it is partially from foods that convert into sugar through the digestive process. For the first 15 minutes the sugar from refined food products gives our body a boost, but after the sugar metabolizes our body reacts negatively with a low period in the form of sluggishness; we might get moody; we might just want to take a nap; perhaps we'll just have another cup of coffee with sugar.
 

Some folks may be eating a half a cup or more of refined sugar just through some of the popular food products they eat on a daily basis. Then, if they are eating desserts on top of that they are overloading their body with sugar. And to put it in a simple way, if the pancreas is not processing sugars properly, a person will begin to develop negative health conditions that progress into blood sugar diseases.

Children and teenagers love sugar – they gulp it down with each soda pop they drink, and gobble it up with almost every packaged product they eat - from loaf breads to peanut butter, and from pop tarts to breakfast cereals. The lists of refined sugar-laden foods go on and on and on and on…

A physical addiction to sugar can show up in many serious health conditions such as alcoholism, diabetes, and obesity, just to name a few.  At first, and when you’re young, eating refined sugar shows up as orange flags to the above ailments in lesser forms such as weight gain, allergies, skin conditions, and hyperglycemia, drinking too much, emotional outbursts, and pre-onset diabetes, and that’s just to name a few.

We have described above that refined sugar is not a natural food and that is why our body begins to reject it in the form of blood sugar issues and illnesses. The good news is there are several forms of natural sugar substitutes, such as 100% maple syrup, raw bee’s honey, and Stevia sweetener from the Stevia plant that will NOT cause health issues when used in moderation. Stevia is even safe for diabetics to use. Raw (real honey) in small doses is also safe for diabetics.

remember: moderation is the key with most anything
There is also whole cane sugar which is evaporated cane juice. It is sometimes called Panela or Raspadura in the grocery stores and is sold in blocks or already crystallized for your convenience.  It still goes through a processing so you still do not want to over do it with Panela either. Here's the process of making of Raspdura or Panela. http://laylita.com/recipes/2012/03/03/what-is-panela-or-piloncillo/
Raspadura or Panela sugar
We have to be careful as many manufactured sugar substitutes are really unhealthy and can cause health issues and even cancer. When looking for a sweet substitute, remember it must come directly from the source and still be "whole, natural". 

Many times when I bake cakes and cookies, I will add about 1/2 cup of raisins to the blender with the same amount of water (let sit for ten minutes) blend it up for five minutes and use that for the sweetener in banana and tea breads. This is a quick, healthy alternative to refined sugar.

BEWARE: Sadly the Mercados in Cuenca sell what they are telling people as real raw bee’s honey but it is laced with corn syrup!!  After Frank’s feet continued to hurt after eating this sticky goop that tastes real good to the taste buds, we realized with health issues (achy feet) that it was not just raw honey. Later, some Ecuadorians admitted the honey at Feria is not totally bee’s honey. More reasons we should "listen to our body"!

Here is a good resource to find out all about Stevia sweetener from South America. http://www.stevia.com/


Frank and Angie are lifelong natural health practitioners. They have overcome many difficult health situations. They have been studying and enjoying health and nutrition for over thirty years, and have taken their Better Health, Better Life seriously and are enjoying life abroad in their middle years with their three adult sons.

We're an Expat Family of Five, Living Frugal, Healthy and Happy in Cuenca Ecuador! Enjoy the Discover Cuenca Ecuador blog!

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