Monday, November 12, 2012

Lessons I Learned About Sugar

Is sugar on your radar?

Despite so much talk about it and so many best selling books being devoted to it, sugar was never a big focus for me...until cancer came into my life. Actually it took having cancer twice for me to wake up. 

What I have learned: there are a multitude of factors that can cause cancer- genetic, environmental and lifestyle, to name a few.  The reality, and this is still hard for this control freak to swallow, is that we have little control over many of these factors.  What we can control, however, is lifestyle - of which diet is a big part. So now I know: learn which foods to fill up on daily {those that are anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant rich} and learn which foods should be consumed in moderation. One of those foods, or ingredients I should say, to consume in moderation is sugar.

We all know sugar is not great for us, but so what?  Well, I always think of the brochure I see sitting in the waiting area of my doctor's office. The front cover states so succinctly: cancer cannot live without sugar.  That's a powerful statement and one that is quite easy to comprehend. Beyond cancer, I have been told - and maybe you already know this - that sugar has also been linked to every malady familiar to aging bodies. Maladies like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and neurological disorders.  Sugar, along with nasty processed foods, is also a significant contributor to the obesity (and childhood obesity) epidemic that is raging in America.}

So how do we manage sugar when it is all over the place? Here is the guidance I have received: 

- SODAS: no sodas, regular or diet (which contain artificial sweeteners that spike our blood sugar levels).  Stevia is fine to consume.

- JUICE: say no to juice - not just orange juice and apple juice, but the "juicing" craze that is being sold to us as "healthy".  When you strip away the fiber from fruits and vegetables, our bodies are immediately taking in sugar, having to do no work metabolizing the fiber contained in whole fruits and vegetables.

- FRUITS:  should be consumed daily (*) but certain fruits that are high in sugar, such as bananas, should only be consumed once per week.

-VEGETABLES: should be consumed daily (*) but root vegetables should be eaten in moderation.

- PROCESSED FOODS: processed foods are notorious for containing an abundance of sugar in its many forms, loads of sodium and all kinds of unpronounceable extras that are not good for us. This is the basis of the old adage "shop as little as possible in the center aisles of the grocery store".  Like salads?  Make your own salad dressing.  Like pasta?  Make your own pasta sauces. Etc. 

- DESSERTS: should be consumed only in great moderation if at all. 

(*) Please refer to The Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid

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