How much sugar is too much?
We were programmed to associate sugar with good times from a very young age. As children we were rewarded with desserts for eating our broccoli, and birthday celebrations included ice cream and cake. All holidays have a specific candy, whether it’s candy corn, candy canes, or chocolate bunnies. Even Pink Floyd says 'If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?!' My mom didn't make us dessert or have it in the house so sugar became this coveted thing. I would take my dog-washing money and on the way from the ferry to school, I'd stop at the corner shop for what now I recognize as a binge. I became quite the candy connoisseur. So, do we give our children and ourselves sugar? How much is too much?
The problem with refined sugar is that it is a thief. It steals nutrients from our bodies, hijacks our hormones, and sets us on a course for obesity, inflammation, and chronic disease. Having high glucose levels or high blood sugar causes cell walls to become rigid and stiff. This slows the flow of blood and lymph in your body and reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients reaching your cells. For this reason, eating sugar impedes healing and threatens full flexibility in every cell in your body from your skin to your inner organs.
Having cured my eczema problems, I gained a reputation as a skin guru in London. To give you an example of what excessive sugar does to your skin, I’ll present a case study from my clinic. A builder in his sixties came to see me regarding his burning, weeping, painful eczema that covered a large portion of his body, but particularly affected his hands and arms. We went through his diet and it turned out he loved a cup of tea—with eight teaspoons of sugar. I asked how many cups he might have in a day. He shrugged his shoulders and said, “Perhaps ten?” I struggled to keep my eyebrows in place.
I asked this man to spoon eighty teaspoons of sugar onto a plate and leave it on his kitchen table until he next saw me. I did not tell him to cut back on sugar or stop drinking tea. I suggested that for every cup of tea he drank, he follow it with a cup of water, as he was currently not drinking any water at all. I asked him to add frozen veggies to his standard of canned soups for dinner and to eat one apple or pear a day. Because his eczema was so severe, he was given a homeopathic general-support remedy but nothing else. My focus was mostly on his diet as his sugar consumption was off the charts, and I hoped seeing the pile of sugar would motivate him to change.
Six weeks later at his follow up appointment, he proudly showed me that his eczema was completely gone – as if it had never existed. We both were incredulous. He was drinking four cups of tea a day, with no sugar, and was drinking two liters or more of water. He had added in the vegetables and fruit and had noticed he felt better, which led him to want to eat even more of them. The giant sugar mound had startled him into action, and a few simple changes were all it took for his body to heal the inflammation of the eczema. He was happy with his new diet, delighted with his skin and I never saw him again.
The higher an ingredient is on the label, the more of that substance is contained in the food. One sneaky trick food processors use is to include three different types or names for sugar, listing them all separately so it doesn’t look so bad. Look on the label for total sugars. The Lunchbox Doctor, Jenny Tschiesche, gives an excellent explanation of how to identify sugar content on a label.
You will find sugar in almost all processed foods.
Here’s a short list of the different names:
- brown rice syrup,
- corn sweetener, corn syrup or corn syrup solids,
- cane juice, dehydrated cane juice,
- dextrin, dextrose,
- fructose, fruit juice concentrate,
- high-fructose corn syrup (bad, bad, bad!!!),
- invert sugar,
- malt syrup, maltose, mannitol,
- molasses, raw sugar,
- rice syrup,
- turbinado sugar,
- and xylose
I give honey and maple syrup a kindofa free-ish pass card as they are more natural sugars. Yes, they have minerals, vitamins, and immune-enhancing properties. But they still break down in your body like sugar and can cause havoc in large amounts.
For chocoholics who feel like a little part of them has just died, here is my peace offering: homemade chocolate. It is so easy to do and incredibly satisfying. Homemade chocolate is high in minerals and antioxidants, soothes those monthly cravings and provides nutritious fat. I mean, come on, it’s practically a health food.
Here's the link to the Homemade Chocolates page. You'll have fresh chocolate made with five simple ingredients to use as a syrup, frosting, bar or small candy. If you want to have a richer chocolate, there's a recipe for that, along with a bundle of variations to tickle your fancy.