This week, we're starting a new series for our blog, simply entitled "Living Health." Each week we're going to bring you some tips that we've gathered over the years on how to stay healthy naturally. For many years, our family has followed a few guidelines that have kept us away from MDs and allopathic medicines (AKA drugs).
People often ask us how we could go 20 years without ever going to the doctor for some disease or the other (the last time I went was for a physical to be on the swim team in high school). This blog series will be our chance to share that with you.
Today, we're going to start with one of the basics: sweets. It seems that our society today has an obsession with sweets, from candies to pastries to sodas. And they are causing a huge problem, with diabetes levels skyrocketing and our children getting fatter and fatter by the generation. So for this first post we present:
Guideline #1 - Stick with the Good Sugars. What do I mean when I say good sugars? Well, most of the sugar we eat today is highly refined. The sugar you're used to eating is bright white, and stripped of any and all nutrition it had when it was grown as sugar cane. It's pure sweetness. The only thing worse is its recently introduced chemical cousin: High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). HFCS is an even more highly refined sugar. It goes directly into your blood stream, wreaking havoc with your insulin levels. A diet high in refined sugars, such as white sugar and HFCS, will most definitely increase the likelihood of someone developing diabetes. Instead stick with what we call the "Good Sugars":
- Sucanat is basically sugarcane juice which has been evaporated down to small crystals. You can use it just like your would refined white sugar, but it releases into the blood stream more slowly, and retains most of the nutrients found in sugarcane juice. Sucanat is available at any health food store.
- Jaggery or Panela is a traditionally made unrefined sugar made in India and Latin America. It is very similar to Sucanat, but is usually sold in block form. It is easily available at most Indian and Latino markets.
- Agave nectar is the concentrated nectar of the agave plant (also used to make tequila). Unlike table sugar, agave nectar is a complex carbohydrate. This means that it has a very low Glycemic Index, which is a measure of how fast a sugar releases into the blood stream. Agave nectar is available almost everywhere now, even Trader Joe's. Buy raw agave nectar if you want its medicinal qualities as well.
- Honey is considered a miracle food in most traditional cultures. Besides being extremely sweet, honey has loads of other medicinal qualities, such as being an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory. Like agave nectar, honey has a low Glycemic Index, and therefore doesn't interfere with insulin levels. One big thing to look for, however, is where you buy your honey from. Most commercially available honey is pasteurized, meaning it is heated to extend its shelf life (even though honey naturally has a shelf life of thousands of years). Pasteurized honey is devoid of all of the medicinal properties of unheated honey, and is even considered to be a strong poison by Ayurvedic (traditional Indian) medicine. Look for unheated, raw honey at your local farmers market or health food store. HINT: Buy honey lots at a time. It never goes bad and you'll save money.
So that's it. Our Good Sugars list. Stick with these, in moderation, and we can almost guarantee you and your family with be free of sugar-related diseases like diabetes for life. Remember, just because they are on our Good Sugar list, doesn't mean you can gorge. Sugar is a treat in life, and treats always come in small packages.