An ‘eye opener’ is any piece of information that meets 3 specific criteria; A) it’s new to you, B) its proven to be factual, and C) it leads you to have a new and typically opposite understanding related to some aspect of the subject matter. In 1975, American researcher and writer William Dufty’s book ‘Sugar Blues’ was published. It was considered to be an eye opener as it detailed the very nefarious nature of the refined white sugar industry and how white sugar is a supremely addictive and harmful substance that humans should ideally NEVER ingest.
Dufty even went so far as to state his belief that refined white sugar is as much of an addictive drug as heroin. He stated that in much the same way the poppy is refined into opium, then morphine and finally heroin as the intended narcotic, so too is sugar taken from the cane or beet, refined to molasses, and then into sugar as a substance that’s equally intended as a substance that creates addicts - and customers - who’ll keep buying even though it’s destroying their health.
Whether you believe in the ne’er-do-well nature of the food processing industry to that extent or not, there’s no debating that consuming large quantities of refined sugar (and the average Canadian takes in a whopping 88 pounds of it a year, a stat that’s much higher in the States too) is totally destructive for your health, and most notably in that it supercharges your chances of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and excess fat around the waist along with abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Neglect countering those trends and you’re quite likely to develop heart disease or diabetes, or suffer a stroke. Further, and equally concerning is that sugar makes plaques form on the cells of the brain, and they serve to inhibit messages passed between the synapses of the brain. Simply put, eating sugar is a major contributor to the large numbers of people who complain of brain fog. And if you need a more dire reason here, how about there’s some evidence pointing to a link between diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease. Elevated glucose in the blood causes increased levels of amyloid beta, a fundamental component for Alzheimer’s debilitation campaign against brain cells.
Refined sugar is so detrimental to overall health because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as "empty" or "naked" calories. It lacks the natural minerals which are present in the sugar beet or cane. In addition, sugar is actually aggressively harmful because it drains and leeches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demand its digestion, detoxification and elimination make upon one's entire system.
Last but not least – and likely the first warnings against sugar you ever heard in your life – it promotes tooth decay in a big way. Nothing enjoyable about toothaches or having to get fillings.
Mother Nature’s Sweetener
Despite all these risks associated with sugar, so many of us still really crave sweetened foods and beverages.
For any of you now asking ‘What is Stevia?’ allow us to explain. The stevia plant is part of the Asteraceae family, which also includes daisies and ragweed. It’s most commonly found in the areas of New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas in North America, but the most sought-after species of the plan (stevia rebaudiana) comes from Paraguay and Brazil.
This sweet leaf is a healthy sugar alternative for sweetening foods and beverages, and it’s a much better choice to add stevia to your coffee in the morning than sugar. It’s so sweet in fact that it has 200 times the sweetness sugar does in the same concentration. Quite simply, it sweetens much more efficiently than sugar, and you benefit by adding / consuming less of a substance that has far fewer calories to begin with.
Stevia has shown itself to be helpful for:
- Aiding in weight loss, with very few calories but also with the fact it does not stimulate ‘fake hunger’ the same way that sugar does by increasing your blood sugar levels
- Lowering blood pressure
- Reducing blood sugar
- Reducing the incidence of tooth decay
- Promoting better oral health by reducing bacterial formation
- Building strong bones, with particular significance for preventing osteoporosis
- Skin health, notably as a topical application for skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis
- Preventing certain forms of cancer
All of which refined sugar most certainly is not, and in some cases actually works against these benefits. It’s a good choice for diabetics as it’s a sugar replacement that won’t affect blood sugar levels.
How it avoids changing your blood sugar is as follows; the sweet molecules in stevia (rebaudiosides) pass into your digestive tract and are then used by bacteria in the colon. As a result, there’s no opportunity for them be absorbed into the bloodstream like sugar would be, but you still get to enjoy the sweetened taste.
The superiority of stevia to sugar doesn’t end there. It contains an abundance of antioxidant compounds (flavonoids, triterpenes, caffeic acid, tannins, kaempferol, quercetin, and more) as well as fiber, protein, iron, potassium, magnesium, sodium, and vitamins A and C. Refined white sugar? It has none of them.
It’s quite common to have concerns about potential side effects or other negative potentialities with certain natural additives, particularly as they’re typically not analyzed and regulated the same way more standard ones will be. If you’re asking ‘is stevia safe?’ or ‘is stevia healthy?’ then you‘ll be relieved to learn that by and large it is, and any concerns will for the most part be exclusive to individuals with specific health statuses .
People who are allergic to ragweed, marigolds, daisies and similar plant members of the Asteraceae family we mentioned earlier may also experience an allergic reaction after ingesting stevia. Some people have complained of bloating and cramping from eating foods or drinking beverages sweetened with stevia.
In addition, stevia may cause low blood pressure, and accordingly anyone taking blood pressure medications should seek a physician’s approval if they want to start using stevia instead of sugar. That applies to those taking insulin or drugs for diabetes as well, and there is also some evidence that stevia may interact negatively with anti-fungals, anti-inflammatories, anti-microbials, anti-cancer drugs, anti-virals, appetite suppressants, calcium channel blockers, cholesterol-lowering drugs, fertility agents and other specific medications.
Choose Stevia to sweeten your foods and beverages people, and avoid suffering from the ‘sugar blues.’