Healthy Sugar Swaps. Is there such a thing?!

The short answer to this is no, there is no such a thing as healthy sugar swaps.

Wait, I'm not saying you should never eat sweets.

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But, is if you are having problems at controlling the amount of sugary foods that you eat, replacing sugar for maple syrup, coconut sugar or rice sugar won't make much difference. Yes, some types of sugar contains more traces of nutrients than others, but it is not enough to make a big difference on your health.

What I see happening quite often is that by replacing sugar (cane of sugar) for other sugar alternatives people unconsciously tend to consume even more, because by believing it is healthier they feel less guilty about eating it.

Let’s agree that there is always different points of view when comparing something to something else.

If we analyse the glycemic index, some sources such as coconut sugar have a lower glycemic load, which means blood glucose levels will rise slower, even though it has just as many calories as regular sugar.

We all know that consuming sugar in large amounts has deleterious effects on our health, it's linked to the risk of diabetes, heart disease and to obesity. It has also been shown to be related to inflammation, ageing and cancer.

So, what's is the best option?

- Balance is the key. Focus on consuming less sugar overall.

- Reduce the intake of packaged food and refined sugars.

- Consume more whole foods that contains naturally occurring sugars that gives to your body the natural energy needed to function.

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Are you struggling with sugar cravings?

We all sometimes seek sugar as a instant reward or when we feel the need for a quick energy boost or simply when we crave our favourite treat, and there's nothing wrong with that. But when it happens on a regular basis this leads to what we call the sugar craving cycle.

Creating a blood sugar instability (quick raising and dropping sugar levels) makes you feel tired and results in a lack of energy.

Many factors such as stress, hormonal disfunction, dehydration, vitamin deficiency, lack of sleep and inadequate nutrition can be the root cause to sugar craving.

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Here are some tips to help prevent it from occurring:

- Identify the trigger. When the craving for sugar kicks in take a minute to reflect on why you are craving it.

If your craving for sugar is not related to physical hunger, look for the source of the craving. If you are craving sugar because you are sad, tired or stressed which we call emotional hunger, you need to address this first.

- Stay hydrated. Make sure you drink enough water, distributing it in small portions throughout your day.

- Avoid skipping meals.

- Add a source of protein and good fats with your meals and snacks.

- Avoid the consumption of high glycemic index foods, such as refined foods. For low GI foods choose wholefood; fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

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- Eat more fibre.

 - Don't start a magazine diet or cut carbs because you were told that carbs are bad for you. Any dietary change should be made with a professional assistance.

  - Adding more spices such as cinnamon to your meals can help to control blood glucose levels. Sprinkle more of it on your porridge, fruits and add to smoothies. Ginger, licorice, ginseng and cloves are also great options.

  - Get more sleep

A note about insulin resistance

Insulin is the hormone that helps control the amount of glucose (sugar)  in the blood, transporting it to your liver and muscles cells to be used as energy.

Insulin resistance is when the body doesn't respond properly to insulin. Your liver and muscles start resisting the action of insulin and the body has to produce higher amounts of it to keep the blood glucose levels within a normal range.

Insulin resistance is more common in:

• People with a family history of diabetes

• People who are overweight

• People who are physically inactive

• Women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

If you are under the group risk or already have Insulin resistance, healthy lifestyle changes such as the ones mentioned above and exercising regularly can reduce your chances of developing Type II diabetes. 

Insulin resistance is detected by blood tests ordered by a GP or specialist.