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26 Dec 2015   Shanti Gowans

We've all heard how sugar can cause obesity, diabetes, and a whole lot of other chronic diseases. Just like the flame on your stove is contained and controlled by the burner and valves, but you can safely use the the rest of the stove for cooking. However, take that flame out of context, by, for instance, placing it on your living room floor, it can quickly burn out of control and cause all kinds of damage. In the same way, sugars eaten outside their normal context of whole, complete foods run riot in our bodies, leaving us exhausted, overweight, and sick.

The sugar found in supermarkets, most grocery stores, processed and packaged foods and desserts is made in large scale, industrial refineries using cheap, mass-farmed crops such as sugar cane and beets. Food manufacturers extract the sugary pulp from the rest of the plant. They strip away all trace of healthy minerals and nutrients. And they leave you with a hyper-concentrated dose of empty calories that cause all kinds of chaos in your body. Here are some sugars you may be consuming:

Refined white sugar
Refined white sugar is completely stripped of all nutritional value, and provides only empty calories. Furthermore, more than 65 percent of the white sugar available commercially is made from GMO sugar beets. Avoid it at all costs.
Brown sugar
Commercial brown sugar is nothing more than refined white sugar with some molasses added back in for colour and flavor. Do not be fooled by the colour or claims. It’s just as bad.
Evaporated cane juice
Made from sugar cane (as opposed to sugar beets), evaporated cane juice is slightly less refined than white sugar, and therefore retains more colour, flavor, and nutrients from the sugar cane. But really the only difference between commercial evaporated cane juice and white sugar is that the former goes through one less step of refinement.
Raw organic cane sugar
This type of sugar is less processed than refined white sugar, and still contains some of the original nutrients present in cane juice. These include amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and even some antioxidants. Because it’s organic, you also won’t be exposed to the pesticides present in commercially grown sugar. So, while obviously a better choice than refined white sugar, remember that it’s still sugar and should be consumed in minimal quantities.
Coconut sugar
Coconut sugar is harvested from the sap of the coconut plant through a very natural process of extracting the juice, and then allowing the water to evaporate. Process-wise, it is one of the most sustainable methods of sugar production, and the product also contains a small amount of fiber and other nutrients. Coconut also contains a lower percentage of fructose than the other sugars listed, which perhaps makes it slightly healthier than the other options.

Without the 'burn-control' you normally get when you eat sugar that's part of a whole food, the body struggles to control the fire. Sugar causes a spike in your blood-sugar levels followed by a huge crash. Because your blood-sugar level is a key signal for appetite and hunger, this crash triggers major warning alarms in your body. Your brain starts thinking that you're starving to death. In response, it compels you to eat immediately, especially foods that have quick, cheap calories such as processed foods with sugar. Most people can relate to feeling those powerful cravings, those times where you just have to eat a sugary dessert even after eating a full meal. For many people they are virtually impossible to resist, np matter how much willpower you have. The end result is you end up eating even more sugar, which creates another spike and crash in your blood-sugar levels. And so the more sugar you eat, the more your body craves it. It's an unending cycle. Many researchers describe sugar 'the most addictive drug on the plane', saying it's even more addictive than crack-cocaine or heroin.

Big business knows this. They're well aware of how easy it is to make you hooked on sugar (and in turn, the products they sell). So they go to extreme lengths to convince you to keep buying, such as: spending millions of dollars in advertising each year to push foods scientifically proven to harm our health (a vast majority of which gets aimed at young children), and  lobby government officials to prevent any health regulations on sugar (just like the tobacco industry did to try and stop restrictions on the sale of cigarettes). Some even go to incredible lengths to sponsor bogus scientific studies and research to show their products are 'healthy' and are 'not bad for you'.

And we can end up with heart disease, weight gain, chronic fatigue, weak immune systems, gut problems, cancer, and more. And it's not just white sugar either. Many so-called 'natural sweeteners', including raw sugar, corn syrup, and agave nectar are all highly refined. The body just doesn't know how to properly use these concentrated, "unnatural" sugars. So why do we even bother with these harmful sweeteners in the first place? Why don't we all just use honey? The short answer: ProfitThere are several major problems with honey: It's simple, un-patentable, and it's not as cheap to manufacture in mass quantities as refined-sugar. That makes selling processed sugar far more profitable than selling honey.

Sugar can be extremely hazardous to your health. But this depends on two critical factors...

  • How much sugar you consume.
  • What kind of sugar you eat.

Yet, your body needs sugar to survive. Consumed in moderation, sugar is a helpful source of energy. This is particularly true when you get it from the right sources. As hunter-gatherers, human beings evolved over hundreds of thousands of years, getting moderate amounts of carbohydrates by eating whole foods such fruits, vegetables, and honey. Your body knows how to extract the maximum benefit from these whole foods, as opposed to processed sugars such as corn syrup.

Winnie the Pooh said it best when he stated, “Eating honey is a very good thing to do.” This liquid gold has been a staple in many homes for many, many years, and for good reason. The benefits of honey are seemingly endless. Honey is liguid gold. It is truly a healing gift from nature, and is rich in medicinal properties: hygroscopic, antibacterial, antioxidant. Honey is a nutritional powerhouse, containing glucose, fructose, and numerous minerals including calcium, iron, copper, phosphate, sodium chlorine, magnesium, manganese, and potassium. Consumed in moderation, this sugary product made by bees can be a healthy choice, which might surprise many people who understand that it could be better to be a “fat burner” than a “sugar burner”, and how consuming the majority of calories from healthy fats helps to shift the body into a fat-burning mode.

But one of the healthier versions of carbohydrates that are available, and in today's understanding, that are still considered “Paleo-friendly” is wonderful, tasty honey. Wherever you are in the world, seek out raw local sources of honey for use in your kitchen, as well as for other medicinal purposes.

Honey, in particular, has three critical healing effects. These are: As you know, your body is under constant assault by numerous viruses and bacteria that threaten to tire you out, make you sick, and even kill you.

Honey supports your immune system and fights off harmful bacteria. 

As you know, your body is under constant assault by numerous viruses and bacteria that threaten to tire you out, make you sick, and even kill you. Fighting off this threat is key to staying healthy.

One of the vital components in honey is an enzyme called glucose oxidase. This enzyme, when exposed to oxygen, produces hydrogen peroxide, a strong acid that dissolves the cell walls of bacteria. (Most human cells have thicker cell walls and can resist the low amounts of acid that honey produces.

This makes honey a powerful tool for fighting skin infections, healing wounds, and otherwise supporting your immune system. And it is why honey is able to last for so long in your pantry without going bad. 

Secondly, honey provides unique antioxidants and micronutrients that benefit your body in umpteen ways, and supplies 'building blocks' for healthy cells.

In addition to giving you sugars, honey equips your body with a complex array of proteins, enzymes, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other nutrients. The second these nutrients hit your body, they go to work...

- Tuning up your heart, lungs, stomach, brain, eyes, and skin

- Controlling cancer-causing free-radicals and stopping cell damage in its tracks

- Detoxifying your body of harmful pollutants and other toxins.

Thirdly, Honey burns differently in your body than 'normal” sugar'.

You've probably experienced how rapidly most sugar burns in your body, the characteristic, sudden surge of energy followed shortly by a complete crash. Yet when you eat honey, you don't get that same 'flare effect'. Instead you get a slow, even burn of energy, which you can put to use for working, playing sports, or spending time with your family. The reason for this is because all the extra enzymes and nutrients in honey not only help the body rebuild itself, they also regulate how the body uses the sugar.

In small, private clinics, and in the largest, most respected hospitals in the world, a rising tide of doctors and health care providers are now urging their patients eat this life-giving sugar every single day. They're not just recommending it to give a slightly better alternative to other sweeteners either. They're prescribing it to help treat life-threatening diseases, heal chronic conditions, and keep people looking and feeling their very best. 

Also in awe of honey were ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Chinese, Romans and Greeks who used honey for treating wounds and to heal conditions of the gut. Honey was the most popular ancient Egyptian healing remedy (and was mentioned over 500 times in 900 remedies). Archaeologists found unspoiled, 2000-year-old honey in an Egyptian tomb…it "doesn't go bad". 

Honey is a remarkable substance. Hippocrates (the father of modern medicine) himself used honey and vinegar as a treatment for pain, honey and water for thirst and dehydration, and and honey mixed with water and other substances for fever. And this isn't just some "folk remedy" discredited by modern science either. Researchers (in thousands of peer-reviewed papers) continue to uncover just how healing honey can be. 

However, if you’re used to buying honey that comes in a cute plastic bear bottle, or any cheap grocery store honey, you’re probably not getting good quality honey.  In fact, there have even been some news reports of cheap honey produced in China that's been fraudulently diluted with corn syrup, and passed on to the consumer as real honey! The deception is sad and maddening as I'm sure you agree.

Unstrained, raw honey is the good stuff. It's full of honeycomb, propolis, and pollen. It delivers sweetness without as much of a blood sugar spike as refined sugar, making it a healthier choice for satisfying a sweet tooth. Raw honey is not only organic and Paleo-­friendly, but since it’s never processed or heated, it retains all sorts of health benefits. Raw honey can help alleviate seasonal allergies, boost the immune system, and even soothe a sore throat. Not to mention, slathering a bit of this honey on cuts and scrapes can help heal the skin.

Honey contains a concentrated dose of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that nourish and re-vitalise your body. And it possesses unique antimicrobial properties that help you fight off infections. Throughout history, honey has been used in the treatment of:

  • Natural cough syrup
  • Wounds
  • Indigestion
  • Skin infections; Infections in the mouth
  • Fatigue
  • Natural sleep tonic
  • Balance blood sugar
  • Flu's
  • Burn treatment
  • Face mask
  • Strengthen nails
  • And more!


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Shanti Gowans is the globally recognised author and founder of Shanti Yoga™, Meditation and Ayurveda for the self, family and community.

Shantiji has brought the concepts and practices of a healthy body and a still mind to thousands of Australians through her Yoga and Meditation programs on national television... Read more about Shantiji's biography

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