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Sugar 101: What You Need to Know

By Stepy Kamei

If you've been looking into ways to improve your diet, you probably know by now that too much sugar isn't good for your health. Numerous studies have linked high sugar consumption to an increase in many health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, depression, and heart disease. Keep on reading to learn more about the negative impact sugar can have on your body -- and what you can do to find healthier alternatives for better overall health.

The Difference Between Added and Natural Sugars

Nutritionists tend to agree that the most important fact about sugar to know is that natural sugar (glucose) is not the same as added sugar (fructose). Simply put, food which has had sugar added to it is more likely to be food that's not as nutritious, and more than likely even detrimental to your health. These foods tend to be highly processed, and feature large amounts of sugar added by a chef, food manufacturer, or even yourself. Processed and packaged foods tend to be loaded with fructose to improve their taste, since they usually lack much nutritional quality. Health-wise, sugar that's added to food, whether during or after preparation, can cause unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. Over time, this can lead to quite a few health issues.

However, there are natural sugars to be found in natural foods. Fruit is probably the best example of a food with glucose. Moderate amounts of glucose are important for keeping energy levels up at a stable rate. Fruit also provides important nutrients such as fiber in addition to glucose, making it a smart choice. Even the lactose in milk can provide the sweetness fix your body needs.

Smart Sugar Alternatives

It may seem difficult to cut added sugar out of your life. Of course, it's fine to indulge every once in a while, as long as you get the OK from your healthcare provider to do so. Fortunately, there are plenty of healthy alternatives you can turn to when you're really craving a dose of sweetness.

Honey is one of the most common alternatives to added sugar, and it comes highly recommended by nutritionists. Honey is all-natural, and it doesn't cause blood sugar levels to fluctuate wildly, which is one of the biggest problems with added sugars. Plus, it's got loads of antioxidants which further benefit your health. Use honey as an alternative sweetener in tea, on pancakes, or baked into your favorite sweet treats. The possibilities are endless!

If you need that granular texture, coconut sugar is a great alternative as well. Of course, you can always meet with a nutritionist for further tips on how to cut added sugars out of your diet.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Monroe, La. 

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