It’s undeniable, most of us have a sweet tooth. Why wouldn’t we? Sugar is everywhere; it can be naturally found in fruit juices, honey, syrups and the irrefutable candy. However, they can also hide in plain sight in the most unexpected foods such as pizzas, potatoes and pasta. Therefore, we can easily surpass the recommended daily intake if we don’t know how to control it, without depriving ourselves completely.
Sugar’s hidden agenda
Sad news: the simple sugars found in candies and chocolates don’t have any nutritional value. Added sugars incorporated by certain manufacturers to enhance taste, alter textures, or simply keep things preserved, are what we need to avoid at all cost, as they can be detrimental to you in the long-run.
What we should be looking for instead are the sugars that are more complex and packed with fiber and other valuable nutrients to fuel the body. Complex carbohydrates that we find in such things as brown rice, lentils, whole wheat pasta slowly release energy into the body and can make us feel full faster. The sugars found in fruits and veggies are also important for the daily functioning of the body.
No need to sugar-coat things
By the looks of things, sugar is found in almost everything we eat these days. Yet we need to make sure that our daily intake is not over the recommended amount. Why is that?
Sugar is the main source of fuel for the body. Whether it’s in the form of simple sugars or as complex carbohydrates, sugar will be transported in the blood for cellular nourishment. If the levels of this blood sugar increase, the body produces a hormone called insulin, signaling it to store any extra sugar it doesn’t need immediately. This therefore can lead to weight gain as the extra sugar is now being stored as fat once all carbohydrate reserves are filled. As a secondary effect, the blood sugar-lowering action of insulin can then lead to a glycemic drop, which some people react to with those all too familiar sugar cravings.
Did you know that, at least in animal models, sugar can trigger the same type of reward mechanisms in the brain as experienced during drug addiction? And while this is more complex in humans, those sugar cravings are your body's way of telling you what it wants.
What a sweet deal
Luckily, studies have shown that ingredients found in nature can help maintain aspects of one’s health. In this case, the white mulberry leaf from Japan has been shown to aid in supporting healthy blood glucose levels. For centuries, it has been used as tea infusions, where its health benefits have long been known. However, more recently, studies have shown that its leaves help can help support blood glucose levels thanks to a substance they contain called DNJ. This substance can help decrease the breakdown of complex carbohydrates into simple sugars during the digestion process and can therefore affect the body's glucose absorption.
Therefore, we have to be more diligent in the sugars we consume. Always remember to read the label of the foods you buy by checking for the amount of sugar in the nutritional facts and ingredient list. It is also recommended to incorporate more homemade and raw foods into your diet. As an added benefit, it would be wise to include a supplement made from white mulberry leaf extract to give your body the extra help it needs in reducing the breakdown and absorption of the sugar we consume. Your health will thank you for this sweet gesture!
By Jennifer Soueida, B.Sc.