Lately, there has been a much needed uproar about the amount of “sugar” in manufactured food products. Bohemian Mojo have said we are wading into the fray and indeed we are, and this time we’re doing it by providing a little bit of perspective.The war against ‘sugar’ is real and very necessary for the health of all, including the earth and other beings on the planet. Unfortunately, real foods are getting caught up in the onslaught and being lumped into the bad food category and it seems like it is time to shed some light that might keep us from throwing the sugarbaby out with the proverbial bathwater.
The truth is our bodies are designed to have some sweetness now and then. So, the idea of eliminating or marginalizing all ‘sweet’ foods is actually not really a very natural or healthy one.
One thing that we see happening in the generalized outcry about ‘sugar’ is that natural foods, like fruits and fruit sugars in their whole state, even naturally derived sugarcane and non-gmo beet sugar, are being swept up in the anti-sugar revolution. Mostly this is happening because they are the most obvious sources of ‘sugar’ and people don’t often know that the bigger culprit will not be identified as sugar on your food label. These natural whole/real food sweeteners, although not optimal in large amounts, are actually the least of your worries and the smallest offenders in our food world.
The worst offenders are rarely labeled “sugar” on a food label and instead tend to be identified by names like “glucose, fructose, sucrose, corn starch, maltodextrin, dextrose, etc”, all but the really savvy shopper would have no idea those were actually the sugars that we need to be taxing and fighting against.
So how did we get here??? In the 1800’s a handful of scientists created a way to measure the amount of sucrose and the perceived sweetness of different foods. This is called the “Degrees Brix”. Today food scientists use the “degrees brix” (bx) to identify ways to create the least expensive, most addictive product possible. They’ve created ways to extract ‘sugars’ from foods, whether in the form of sucrose which comes primarily from sugar cane or sugar beets, fructose, maltose and dextrose which come from fruits and starchy plants, or lactose which comes from dairy products. These sugars are chemically removed from the plants and animal products and refined in ways that gives them the highest and most well-rounded perceived sweet taste index. This process typically involves the use of chemicals that are not approved for human consumption but because they are not actually an ingredient are approved for processing. It also creates something that our body can’t figure out how to deal with...which is the real issue of ‘sugars’ in foods. Corn syrups, glucose syrups, even agave and rice syrup, they are all processed and refined into products that do not exist without laboratory intervention. This is the type of silent sweetener that is ending up in manufactured food products both sweet and savory and wreaking havoc on your health.
At the risk of vilifying food scientist; because really they are simply creating ways for the companies they work for to stay competitive and economically viable, the truth is they rarely test the physiological impact of the foods they orchestrate because they are using already FDA approved products to experiment with. They create something in a test tube, add it to a few other manufactured ingredients, try it out on a few volunteers and voila...food product. Unfortunately, they are doing all of this at the expense of not only your health but the viability of our food source.
The truth is, if food producers were simply adding real sugar to your food products, we would be much better off. Instead, they are adding these frankensugars that have been created in a lab to stimulate your palate and brain so you end up reaching for more and as a result buying more. Worse yet, most manufactured foods don’t contain just one type of sweetener. They contain a combination so that your entire palate is stimulated. This is not something that real sugar products do. Laboratory created sweeteners like Corn, Fructose, and Glucose syrups have a higher sweet index, even though they may not necessarily be higher in calorie.
This is how the industry gets away with adding them and claiming they are no worse than regular sugars. Calorie for calorie they aren’t, however, according to the BX (sugar index) they have a much higher percentage of the perceived sweet factor going on. So, when you take a bite of something that has a frankensugar in it; let’s say for example glucose syrup which is approximately 50% higher perceived sweet than regular sugar, your body ramps up to handle that bigger intake of sugar laden calories... except there really is no bigger intake of calories/energy. Now you have insulin rushing around your body with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Your insulin receptors get tired of being on emergency alert all the time and, in time, stop responding to the alarm. This is called insulin resistance or syndrome X and it is a precursor to diabetes. It is also the reason people eating foods with these frankensugars in them can count calories, control portions, and still remain obese and unwell. Medical professionals warn that these frankensugars are some of the main contributors to the silent epidemic of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and other chronic and debilitating diseases that are sweeping through industrialized culture.
The only way around consuming these crafty little frankensugars? Eat real, whole foods as close to the fruit and root as possible. Eat organic, which will eliminate the Genetically Modified factor. This is especially true for meat because conventional livestock are typically fed gmo bi-products as fodder (another story in the works...keep your eyes peeled). If you opt for something sweet go for something that wasn’t made in a factory. Try some dates, a piece of fruit, even raw honey or maple syrup. If you do eat real sugar, make sure it’s organic to avoid genetically modified versions. Remember you vote with your dollar. Manufacturers want to make money, your purchases help drive the focus of manufactured foods.