Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. It is typically found as sucrose, which is the combination of glucose and fructose. We use white and brown sugars to sweeten cakes and cookies, coffee, cereal and even fruit. Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.
We eat more refined sugar today than our parents and grandparents did decades ago, which has resulted in increasing obesity rates among adults and children. Obesity has been associated with certain cancers, including breast, prostate, uterine, colorectal, and pancreatic. On the flip side, fruits high in antioxidants—blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and apples—may reduce your cancer risk. The fiber in fruit, found mainly in its skin, suppresses your appetite to prevent overeating and weight gain.
Refined sugars use your body’s stored B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium for their digestion. Natural sugars are present in foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, which already contain the needed nutrients for their digestion. Regular consumption of foods high in refined sugar will deplete B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium stores from your body. When your body lacks B-vitamins, your nervous system suffers and you may experience fatigue, depression, anxiety and lack of energy. Lack of calcium and magnesium may contribute to arthritis and osteoporosis.
Here are some tips for kicking the refined sugar habit.
1. Don’t eat or buy packaged foods.
Even organic packaged foods often contain significant amounts of sugar. While many of them are preferable to their non-organic counterparts, the sugar content is something to be aware of. Don’t keep these foods at home, otherwise you may find them to hard to resist.