Sunday, May 22, 2011

How Sweet It Is

Much of today's poor health and diseases that are so prevalent today can be blamed on an increase consumption of sugar and refined carbohydrates. Because these exist in so many processed foods, it is sometimes very difficult to avoid them.

In order to successfully eliminate these from your diet, you must be aware of what is in the foods that you eat, how to read ingredient labels and what foods to eat instead. By decreasing your sugar and refined carbohydrate intake, you can lose weight and increase your energy. But the most important goal in eliminating these from your diet is to promote and increase your overall health.

Many people are spoiled by the convenience of processed foods and have a difficult time following a healthy diet because of the time it takes to prepare foods from scratch. It can also be less costly to purchase pre-packaged or processed foods and many families on a budget have this to deal with as well, not thinking of the long term cost of eating processed foods.

By eating natural whole foods, there isn't much need to worry about ingredients labels. However, if you find it necessary to eat processed foods, the following list of sugars will help you determine whether or not the product in question contains sugar or refined carbohydrates.

Dextrose, Fructose, Galactose, Glucose, Lactose, Levulose, Maltose, Saccharose, Sucrose, Xylose, Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xytitol

Other sugars to be aware of include: Beet Sugar, Brown Sugar, Cane Sugar, Confectionary Sugar, Corn Sugar, Corn Sweetener, Corn Syrup, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextrin, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Granulated Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Honey, Invert Sugar, Isomalt, Malt Sugar, Maltodextrin, Maple Sugar, Maple Syrup, Molasses, Raw Sugar, Rice Syrup, Sorghum, Treacle and Turbinado Sugar

Another important ingredient to look out for is white flour. Although it’s not classified as a sugar, it’s a refined carbohydrate that’s just as unhealthy.

One of the worst culprits for hidden sugars are beverages such as soda, sports drinks, sweetened iced tea and most other flavored drinks. They are extremely high in sugar and should be avoided as much as possible. Even natural fruit juices that aren’t from concentrate and have no sugar added are still high in sugar.

Many people think that fruit juices are a healthy alternative to soft drinks. In reality, the benefits of the fruit are usually destroyed during processing therefore all that is left in the "healthy fruit juice" is the sugar from the fruit. The simplest (and healthiest) way to avoid sugar in beverages is to drink water instead. Although this can get boring, drinking water is an overall health benefit to you. It can be very refreshing to add some lemon or oranges slices to your water.

Artificial sweeteners are designed to provide the sweet taste of sugar that we all love, but without the negative impact on health. Unfortunately, these artificial sweeteners are often more of a risk to your health than sugar itself. Most artificial sweeteners, particularly aspartame and sucralose, are synthetic substances that have been found to be toxic in many ways. They’re also known to increase appetite, which is ironic considering their popularity among people looking to lose weight.

The use of artificial sweeteners is often a case of trading one problem for another and is definitely not the path to excellent health. As long as you don’t have a serious condition that prevents you from consuming sugar, and as long as you live a healthy lifestyle most of the time, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying real sugar in moderation.

If you choose to eat processed foods that are advertised as sugar free or low calorie even though you should be eating whole foods instead, avoid products that have aspartame or sucralose listed in the ingredients. Also be aware of the brand names that these artificial sweeteners may also be listed under. Aspartame is commonly available as NutraSweet or Equal and sucralose is commonly known as Splenda.

A healthy alternative for artificial sweetener is stevia. Stevia is a natural herb based sweetener that typically doesn’t affect blood sugar and is a much safer alternative than aspartame or sucralose. It’s many times sweeter than sugar, so if you decide to try it, use it in very small amounts.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Foie "Gross"

I couldn't decide what I wanted to write about this week until I was speaking with a friend of mine this afternoon and she said she had gone out for dinner to a wonderful French restaurant and ate so much Foie Gras she thought she was going to explode. That got me to thinking...I wonder how the goose must have felt as he was being forced fed to fatten up his liver. Probably like he was going to explode! These birds are born, caged, have tubes shoved down their throats and are force fed until their liver is big enough to slaughter them. That's it...that is their entire existence on this earth.

To produce Foie Gras, which literally means "fatty liver", workers shove pipes down the throats of male ducks or geese up to three times a day. They then pump as much as 4 pounds of grain and fat into their stomachs which cause their livers to bloat to up to 10 times their normal size. Many birds have difficulty standing because their livers are so engrossed. At times, they may actually tear out their own feathers and cannibalize each other due to stress. The birds are kept in tiny wire cages or tightly packed into sheds. On some farms, a single worker may be expected to force-feed 500 birds three times each day. These animals are often treated roughly and left injured and suffering. Many ducks develop foot infections, kidney necrosis, spleen damage, bruised and broken bills, and tumor-like lumps in their throats.

Foie Gras is so inhumane that in 2004, California passed a law banning the sale and production of Foie Gras from force fed birds, effective in 2012. Force feeding has also been outlawed in the United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Israel. Over 78% of the worlds consumption of Foie Gras is produced in France.

In Canada, nearly half a million birds are killed each year for Foie Gras. There are no laws preventing force feeding of these birds for the consumption of their liver in Canada yet. Please take the time to write or call your Minister of Agriculture and demand a national ban on Foie Gras production.