28 March 2011

Why you should consider Sucanat

Do you have a sweet tooth? Are you aware of all of the health issues associated with using refined sugar? How about the dangers of artificial sweeteners? When you spend a bit of time to look into those issues, you'll be amazed at the health risks you subject yourself to when you eat chemical sweeteners OR refined sugar on a regular basis. I'm going to talk about the unsafe options vs Sucanat, a healthy substitute for both.

Refined Sugar
White sugar, or any processed sugar (including brown sugar, confectioner's sugar, or icing sugar) is a highly-processed food item. Sugar canes (or sugar beets) are harvested and the syrup is evaporated, heated, and the molasses has been removed. In doing so, all of the minerals and vitamins of the plant are removed. Brown sugar has some of the molasses added back in, but even that molasses has been highly processed in that most of the nutrition is removed for other uses.

Because all of the nutrition is removed from sugar during this process, what is left is pure carbohydrates, which the body stores as fat. Even worse, the daily consumption of sugar puts the body in an inbalance, which causes many illnesses, vitamin deficiencies, and tooth decay. Excess sugar stored in the body can also lead to diabetes.

I'm not even going to go into high-fructose corn syrup and its dangers, because that's a whole article worth of badness.

Chemical Sweeteners
There are several different types of chemical sweeteners, but the most common are aspartame and sucralose (Splenda). 

Aspartame, like MSG, is an excitotoxin. That means it excites parts of the brain and eventually cause cell death if it is eaten too much. Even though many studies show that aspartame causes cancer and infertility in rats, it was approved for human consumption and remains common in every day foods. Cancers associated with consumption are testes, thyroid, pancreas, breast, prostate, and brain.

What is most unfortunate is that aspartame is found in many food items consumed by children. As they age, their exposure to this harmful substance will accumulate and many could develop cancers or increase the liklihood that their offspring will be infertile.

In addition to cancers and infertility, aspartame also triggers sensitivities in millions of people. Dizziness, headache, nausea, seizures, and other brain function issues have all been reported after consuming aspartame.

Sucralose (Splenda)
The company that produces Splenda is very quick to say it's made from sugar, but so what? Sugar isn't even healthy for you. Even worse, sucralose is made by chlorinating the sugar. Yum. While likely not quite as dangerous as aspartame (originally made by Monsanto, by the way – BOO!), it still is not a “safe” alternative. Pre-approval studies showed sucralose was associated with shrunken thymus glands and enlarged kidneys and livers.

Sucanat (a trademarked name) is made by harvesting organic sugar cane plants. The syrup from those plants is removed and then dried. The resulting dried product, which is light brown/golden in colour and looks grainy, is packaged and sold as Sucanat. That's it. So what does that tell you? It's a whole food, contains all its original vitamins and minerals, and is actually GOOD for you. One teaspoon contains 15 calories, but it also has iron, calcium, B6, chromium, and potassium.

Because Sucanat contains less sucrose than refined sugar, it tastes less sweet, which can take some getting used to, but it has a natural flavour and no aftertaste. It tastes a lot like brown sugar, with a lovely molasses smell. A further pro is that Sucanat is made from organic cane sugar, and the company that makes it (Wholesome Sweeteners) is certified fair trade.

Each bag of Sucanat (it comes in a 16 oz or 32 oz size) includes a recipe for using the product. You can buy sucanat at most health food stores, or in the organic/health food section of your local grocery store.

Natural cane sugar products have been linked to positive dental health, as well. It is thought that several components of Sucanat inhibits dental caries (cavities) and can promote a healthy mouth.

So – are you convinced yet? Switch to Sucanat and eat a whole food rather than a highly-processed or chemical sweetener, and reap the benefits.

**I have no association with the company that produces Sucanat.**


21 March 2011

Article - Why Does My Blood Sugar Rise After Exercise?

Blood sugar level, also called blood glucose level or blood sugar concentration, is the amount of sugar in the bloodstream. Sugar, called glucose by the medical community, is the main fuel source for a body's cells. The hormone called insulin makes the glucose available for use by the cells. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is called hyperglycemia. One cause of hyperglycemia is Diabetes mellitus. A person with Diabetes does not produce enough insulin and therefore cannot control the amount of sugar in his or her bloodstream. Both long-term hyperglycemia as well as fluctuating blood sugar levels are dangerous and can cause severe side effects and shortened life span.

In some people, especially those who have high blood sugar levels before exercise, their blood sugars will rise after exercise. Normally, exercise causes blood sugar to drop, but in cases where the glucose levels are already high, the stress caused by strenuous exercise causes the liver to release excess glucose into the bloodstream.

It is very important for diabetics to consistently monitor their blood sugar levels. To make sure exercise is safe, they should test before, during, and after exercise. This will help determine when the best time of day is for exercise on an individual basis, plus it will help prevent dangerous glucose level fluctuations. The best time to test is thirty minutes before exercise and then immediately before exercise begins to make sure no major change has occurred.

Sugar Levels
The Mayo Clinic says that when the blood sugar level is between 5.6 mmol/L and 13.9 mmol/L (100 mg/dL and 250 mg/dL), exercise is safe. If the sugar level is more than 16.7 mmol/L (300 mg/dL), then levels could rise after exercise and cause an unsafe blood glucose level. In this scenario, exercise should be avoided. To prevent dangerously low levels, test every thirty minutes during extended exercise situations. If levels drop to 3.9 mmol/L (70 mg/dL) or lower, stop exercising immediately and take measures to raise blood sugar levels.

Never exercise right before bedtime, since exercise usually causes blood sugar levels to drop, and this could result in hypoglycemic levels occurring sleep. Consult your doctor to determine what type of exercise is best for your situation, and how to design an exercise program for you if you've been inactive recently.



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