PepsiCo announced this week that it is cutting back on sugar in their soda products. The goal in the next 10 years is to cut the average added sugar per serving in drinks by 25 percent. In addition, PepsiCo said it would remove full-calorie sweetened drinks from schools worldwide by 2012.
The word is spreading. And big business is listening.
Those of us with fungal illness must pay particular attention to the sugar issue. Sugar propogates yeast in the body. It's interesting to note that sugar cane is grown in tropical climates. The same conditions where fungus thrives.
Since leaving our home we have slowly eliminated refined sugars and processed foods from our diet. It has not been an easy transition.
All of us would agree, however, that our tastes have changed dramatically.
Vegetables taste completely different than they once did. My kids tolerate bitter herbs and flax oil. An orange takes the place of dessert.
We still keep sweeteners in the house, but use them sparingly.
What are the best ones? What's the difference between cane juice and molasses? How about stevia and NutraSweet? Read on.
The Bad Guys
Comes from sugar cane and sugar beets. The sucrose (50/50 mixture of fructose and glucose) is extracted from the plant, leaving virtually no minerals, vitamins, proteins, or fibers. This means there are no alkaline minerals, which further increases acidity in the body. Refined sugar is best avoided at all costs.
High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS starts as corn syrup, a liquid sweetener extracted from corn, which is then altered by enzymatic processes to yield a product high in fructose (sometimes as high as 90%). Fructose is more readily metabolized into fat by the liver than glucose.
The use of this syrup has increased by more than 10,000% since 1970, largely because it's more economical. Corn has added GMO and aflatoxin burdens, making HFCS potentially even more toxic to the system.
The Weston A. Price Foundation for Wise Traditions has an excellent article on the dangers of high fructose corn syrup.
Opinions vary regarding artificial sweeteners. I steer away from anything synthetic so I side with those who contend they are hazardous. Take aspartame, for example. The phenylalanine in aspartame has been proven to increase dopamine levels in the brain. This can lead to depression, migraines, brain tumors, and more. This proved to be true for our son in the early stages of his migrainous vertigo. I remember an immediate attack from one stick of artificially sweetened chewing gum.
The aspartic acid in aspartame is an excitotoxin. These toxins cause specified brain cells to become excessively excited to the point that they die. In addition, the ester bond in aspartame is broken down to formaldehyde and methanol, both of which have their own toxicities. Because of the clouded perception surrounding this sweetener, it is soon to be marketed as Amino Sweet. For more on this latest initiative, see this article.
Splenda is the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound discovered in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. The Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar)--however, three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms. See this article for more information.
The Better Guys
Is made by evaporating the water from whole sugar cane juice. Not to be confused with brown sugar, which is white sugar with some molasses added, unrefined sugar has nutritional content such as phosphorus, chromium, and calcium. Several food producers are aware of the public's concern with sugar and now use "dried cane juice" or "cane juice," which can be just as refined. Be sure to choose unrefined dried cane juice.
Just Like Sugar
This is derived from chicory root. It does not taste like sugar, in my opinion. One of my sons loves it. The texture is much like table sugar and therefore can be good in recipes.
Lo Han Kuo is the fruit of Momordica grosvenorii, a plant cultivated in the mountains of southern China. The fruit contains a series of terpene glycosides called "mogrosides." These are up to 300 times as sweet as sucrose. Mogrosides have a licorice-like off-taste. As with stevia, it's important to check ingredients added. It's hard to find in its pure form.
This is a sweetener derived from the Mexican plant aguamiel. It goes through a heavy refining process yielding as much as 90% fructose. For an in-depth look at agave, see this article.
Is made by culturing cooked rice with enzymes (usually from dried barley sprouts) to break down the starches, then straining off the liquid and reducing it by cooking until the desired consistency is reached. The final product is 45% maltose, 3% glucose, and 52% maltotriose. This can be a good option when making granola.
There are several types of molasses: unsulphured, sulphured, and blackstrap. The distinctions are based, in part, on how many times it has been boiled during the manufacturing process.
Unsulphured molasses is the least refined. Sulphured molasses is made from green sugar cane that has not matured long enough and treated with sulphur fumes during the sugar extracting process. Blackstrap is made from the third boil. One tablespoon of blackstrap is approximately 46% sucrose. The mineral content includes manganese, copper, iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and vitamin B6. The healthiest version is unsulphered organic blackstrap molasses.
Is derived from the yacon plant in South America. The sugar in this syrup is known as FOS (fructooligosaccharide), a special type of fructose, which according to some researchers has unique benefits in the digestive tract. (Yacon syrup is pictured above in the unmarked jar.)
Is 65% sucrose and is produced by tapping maple trees to release their sap. A tree’s sap is the fluid that, much like blood in animals, carries water and food to different parts of the tree to keep it nourished. As with all concentrated sweeteners, the less refined, the better.
Honey bees convert nectar into honey by a process of regurgitation and store it as a food source in wax honeycombs inside the beehive. Honey is extremely sweet (86% glucose/fructose combination), but offers some health benefits in its raw form.
Is perhaps the best option for those with fungal issues. It is a whole herbal food known for its sweet leaves and flower buds. The powdered leaf can be made into an extract by mixing one teaspoon in one cup of water and allowing it to soak overnight. It is a "free" sweetener for diabetics without the risks associated with artificial sweeteners. The clear extracts and white powders are highly refined and less optimal. As with Lo Han, read the label carefully to see that nothing is added. Truvia, for instance, contains erythritol, which is made by fermenting the natural sugar found in corn.
The Good Guys
Fruit in its raw form
This is perhaps the best way to incorporate a sweetener into the diet. The fiber in the fruit slows down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, allowing the full benefit of the enzymes and minerals. There are a variety of dried fruits that offer nutrition and sweetness.
Gogi berries, for instance, contain 18 amino acids, 21 trace minerals, linoleic acid, more beta carotene than carrots, vitamins B1, B2, B6, and E, selenium and germanium. Mulberries are an excellent source of vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin K and iron. They are also a good source of dietary fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium.
Dates and figs have health benefits as well. Higher in fructose (more than 10%), these can be soaked and made into a paste to add to recipes. Like other concentrated sweeteners, these are best if used sparingly.
The Best Guys
Are not sweet guys.
The foods rich in chlorophyll are the fungus fighter's best friends. Reducing the intake of sugars will help these foods taste better and richer.
One day we might even see PepsiCo's name on the bottle of a spirulina drink.
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