Why Added Sugar Is Harmful For Your Gut And How To Avoid It
You may have noticed lately that there is a lot of information about sugar and how bad it is for you. But there are a lot of misconceptions about what type of sugar is bad for us. Some people have taken avoiding sugar to the extreme and are not eating certain fruits and vegetables because of the sugar content.
The natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables is not the sugar that is bad for us. In fact, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables every day is one of the best things we can do to maintain our gut health. Fiber from fruits and vegetables helps promote a healthy gut by supplying nutrients to the good bacteria in our gut that keeps us healthy.
Sugar found in so many of the prepackaged or processed foods we buy is the real danger to our gut. Unfortunately, sugar is found in so many products it can be hard to avoid it. It is in salad dressing, ketchup, canned vegetables, bread, canned soup, instant oatmeal and frozen convenient meals that we may need to eat due to busy schedules.
The reason added sugar is so bad for our gut health is that it kills the good bacteria we need to stay healthy. Sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria in our gut. (Source: Well and Good) When our gut becomes unbalanced and the bad bacteria takes over, we get sick. Maybe not immediately, but over time our body gets weak and allows illness and disease to take over. The most common illnesses that we are at increased risk for if we don't reduce the amount of added sugar we eat are obesity, diabetes, chronic inflammation, fatty liver disease and heart disease. (Source: Harvard Health)
How do you know if the sugar you are eating is causing your gut to be unhealthy? Tell tale signs are:
Gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, lack of energy, moodiness, skin rashes, abdominal pain, anxiety, frequent belching or stomach gurgling, brain fog and forgetfulness
If you are suffering from any of the above, you know how miserable life can be! Never knowing when you need to find a bathroom right away. Missing out on family gatherings. Not being able to enjoy vacation.
How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:
✔ Be more present with your children
✔ Thrive in your career
✔ Improve your communication and your relationships
✔ Have more fun!
✔ Move your body and improve your fitness
✔ Lose weight and feel better about yourself
✔ Be able to cook healthy meals for you and your family
✔ Take an active vacation
✔ Reclaim your life!
Not sure where to start? I am here to help!
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist teaching people just like you how to stop suffering from the embarrassing effects of an unhealthy gut so you can get back to living. The TAKE YOUR LIFE BACK coaching call is a FREE 30 minute call where we will talk about your specific symptoms and start creating a crystal clear path on how to heal your gut.
A customized 5 Step plan that heals your gut and fits your busy lifestyle is within reach.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
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Now, back to sugar. Sugar that occurs naturally in food is not the sugar that is bad for you. Since natural sugar is combined with vitamins and minerals, the food you are eating is higher in nutrients which is why natural sugar is usually not the enemy. There are some exceptions. Some people may be fructose intolerant or have fructose malabsorption. If that is the case, there are fruits and vegetables that need to be avoided.
Below is a chart of some commonly eaten fruits and vegetables with the sugar content vs. a perceived healthy breakfast that has added sugar:
In the chart, the Hot Oatmeal with apples & cinnamon has added sugar. It is hard to know that this is added sugar just by looking at the chart. In fact, the grams of sugar is less than some fruits with natural sugar, such as apples and unsweetened frozen blueberries. So you may be asking yourself, well if the oatmeal has just as much sugar as the fruit, why not eat that? I'll be getting the fiber I need and a filling breakfast.
The reason added sugar in the oatmeal is so bad for you is that the sugar has been extracted from the nutrients it may be carrying. For example, corn by itself has 3 grams of sugar as well as other nutrients, such as potassium, folate and vitamin C. But when corn is processed to extract just the sugar, it becomes an added sugar without any other nutritional benefit.
So how can you avoid added sugars? A good way to avoid them is to eat foods that are not processed. That's right! Shop the produce aisle or go to a farmers market to buy fresh fruit and vegetables. When fruit and vegetables are not in season, canned or frozen always makes a great option. But make sure to check the label to make sure sugars are not added to it. Canned fruit may be contained in a heavy syrup, which would defeat the purpose of eating the fruit.
Another way is to limit your intake of cookies, cakes and ice cream. I am not saying cut it out altogether but instead of having a sweet treat every night, maybe just one night a week. Now if you just have to have a sweet treat in the evening, try making your own cookies or cakes and cut out 1/3 of the sugar the recipe calls for. I promise you won't even notice the difference!
You can also try sugar substitutes such as:
Date Sugar, which is finely pulverized dried dates so it is high in fiber and retains the vitamins and potassium of the fruit. One product I really like is Now Date Sugar.
Wholesome Coconut Sugar is another sugar alternative that is an unrefined brown sugar. Wholesome states that no animal by-products are used when making the sugar, so it is perfect for vegans.
The key to using an alternative sugar when baking is to use the same type of sugar that the recipe calls for. If granulated sugar is in the recipe, then find a granulated sugar like the ones above. If a liquid sugar is called for, then substitute it for a liquid alternative like honey or maple syrup.
The bottom line is when it comes to sugar is to try to use as natural a sugar as possible to get the benefits of additional vitamins and minerals from the sugar source. This will help you gain the best possible nutritional value when consuming sugar. Do you think you will try to reduce sugar in your routine? Leave me a comment below!