Healthy Sugar Substitutes

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Alcohol and drug addictions are dreaded by all. Those who are addicted to these substances also suffer the social stigma and the long recovery/rejuvenation process associated with it. Some people recover completely and assimilate into society, while others struggle between episodes of remission and addiction.  People with addictions generally have an unstable mind and body, prone to depression, and are drowned in feelings of low self worth/esteem. This becomes a vicious cycle as they frequently find themselves unable to see things to completion, become generally indecisive, often angry and frustrated, which alienates them from society leading them into a downward spiral on all fronts.

Along with alcohol and drugs, there is another addiction that is a silent killer. That addiction is of Sugar – one that has afflicted a large portion of the population.  With alcohol there are rules in place on when and where to consume. Selling and consuming drugs is of course against the law. These aspects act as deterrents to easy purchase of these substances. Sugar on the other hand is easily available at home, restaurant, grocery stores and other places.  Plus sugar in all forms and flavors is very affordable and is eaten with great relish at any time at home, work or outside. For example, donuts are popular for breakfast both at home and work.  Commercialization of sugar laced products as the ultimate treat elevating happiness levels of those that consume has become common place.  It seems that society at large has accepted that it is okay to consume large amounts of sugar.  There are no active “anti sugar” campaigns that highlight the effect of prolonged consumption of sugar.  In fact more and more foods have added sugar in them, contributing to onset on early diabetes, obesity, heart diseases, depression, fatigue, headaches, hypertension, tooth decay and other chronic diseases.  Research shows that the consumption of sugar has gone up from 45 gm per day in 1822 to 765 gm per day in 2012 in the US.  Most of the sugar intake comes from the consumption of Soda as shown in the chart below.

Sugar Chart

Given the dangers of what unregulated sugar consumption can do to our health, education on the adverse effects of eating too much sugary food should start at a young age. It is also imperative that children be introduced to wholesome food and natural/healthy forms of sugar, so they naturally opt for these throughout their life.  Forming good eating habits is applicable to everyone and below are some suggestions on the healthy forms of sugar to consume.

1) Honey: Honey is a substance whose chemical composition is very close to that of human blood. Honey is good against anemia. Consuming honey in warm water increases red blood cell count and renewal, and decreases the level of inertia in the body and mind. Consuming honey helps keep blood pressure balanced. Honey should not be cooked or put in boiling water (warm water is fine). It is better to avoid honey for children under the age of one.

2) Fruits: Fruits are naturally sweet and are good for the system. Fruits also have vitamins and minerals that replenish the body.  Fruit is not only good for digestion, but also reduces the need to eat artificial sugar. Overall it is a win-win situation.

3) Stevia: This is natural sugar and is not processed like white sugar.  It is made from Stevia plants. Stevia plants can be easily grown at home and leaves can be added to food preparation. It has zero calories, and can reduce high blood pressure. It also contains vitamin C and A, rutin, zinc, magnesium, iron and rich in antioxidants.

4) Brown Sugar:  This is another good alternative. It is raw largely unprocessed sugar.  It retains the fiber and contains small amounts of calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, folate and other essential minerals.

5) Dates, Prunes, Figs: These dry fruits are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and naturally sweet. This food group is rich in fiber, low in calories, high in anti antioxidants and many essential minerals and vitamins.   Consuming these can bring several health benefits like weight loss, reduced risk of heart disease, enhanced bowel movements, lower blood pressure, reduced risk of iron deficiency, and even colon cancer prevention.

The next time you are tempted by white sugar treats, take a moment to reflect and consider consuming these alternatives.  It will not only help kick the bad sugar habit, but also put you on the path to health, vigor and vitality.

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