If not sugar then who – inspired by Nigel Latta’s Sugar Show – part 4

I wanted to have 4 neat parts to this response to Nigel Latta’s (that I’m now calling) Sugar Show, but the more and more I think on it the more chapters or entries seem to be revealing themselves.

To fill you in on my plan…

This post will look at:
‘If not sugar then who

I plan to follow up with:

1) nutritional information on sugar’s substitutes

2) guff from Nourishing Traditions and Change of Heart (two cookbooks with knockout ‘prologues’ which I think need to come live at my house).

3) good old fashioned one post (one stop) bibliography would be sexy or at least helpful.

4) bullet pointed summary of where to go from here

5) Latta you left out this…

In general:
I’d say Latta’s Sugar Show will be the catalyst for more posts from me around food, eating, recipes, health and nutrition.

If not sugar then who?
Can I substitute sugar in my baking and feel happier and healthier about it?
I am not finding a unified answer to this question.

To re-iterate, I cook from scratch, and believe I have always limited our children’s consumption of refined sugar and processed foods. As a family (home) we don’t do fizzy drinks, bought biscuits, sweetened yogurt, bought muesli bars.

We do do…

porridge with (frozen) raspberries, maple and cream OR homemade muesli baked in (now) coconut oil and maple syrup, with slices almonds, sunflower seeds and raisins.

A piece of fruit. Plain acidophilus yogurt (The Collective). NB: The French add homemade marmalade or jam to their yogurts to make them ‘fruity’, and me thinks this is a healthier option as you can be conscious and intentional around how much sugar is in your jam, and therefore fruit yogurt. Ceres tamari or sesame seed rice crackers. Popcorn with sea-salt. Rice cakes with butter and peanut or almond butter, or vegemite, or manuka honey. Kumara chips (dinner leftovers although I want to make some specifically for snacks). NB: This could be up-ed to kale chips, and carrot chips. Cheese and apple. Dried fruit; cranberries; dates; prunes; raisins or sultanas. Nuts: cashews; fresh walnuts when in season. Frozen raspberries and blueberries. Homemade iceblocks with guava juice or berry-lite juice. Hard boiled egg.

Gluten free vogels bread or toast with butter and spreads OR vogels thin with butter and spreads. sometimes a cheese sandwich.

(5-10 mins) Before dinner snacks:
frozen peas. carrot sticks. frozen berries. any veges that may be ready which I intended for dinner e.g. sliced avocado

Dinner (hits):
Roast chicken, potato, carrots and broccoli. Fried rice, with bacon, egg, onion, peas and cashews. Tacos, with beef mince, spinach, grated carrot, cheese, sour cream, chili sauce. Fish, terakihi (panfried) with homemade chips or mash roots (with or without greens and oranges). Nibbles (kids tasting platter/antipasto). Sausages (real meat e.g. heller’s country pork), mash and 2 other veges. Fish, salmon (with cream and herbs for the adults), rice, peas or broccoli. Sushi, homemade with tuna/mayo mix, avocado (sometimes egg, terayaki chicken, or salmon), tamari, pickled ginger and wasabi

Always acidophilus yogurt (regardless as to whether they’ve eaten everything at dinner). Will be a larger portion if I’ve/they’ve tried something new and it hasn’t ‘gone down well’.

Battered fish and chips. Turkish – chicken and rice.

water. soda water (sometimes with a squeeze of lemon, orange or grapefruit). almond milk. red bush tea. peppermint tea. a vitamin C (clinicians range) drink made with blackcurrant juice

With that in mind (nutritionists?) is it acceptable to eat…
bliss balls. cake. muffins. ice-cream…

If so, how much? Once a week?  Once every two days? Once a month? Only at birthday parties, Easter, Christmas?

Traditionally, I’ve baked using refined sugars, but since the beginning of 2014 have been experimenting with other sweeteners.

I’ve discovered bliss balls and have refined the recipe to a delicious date based one, with cacao nibs and orange zest. I possibly eat 4 of these a day (if they’re sitting in my fridge). They’d be the size of triple decker licorice allsort.

My biggest question is…
Which sweetener can I substitute with?
How much sweet is ‘acceptable’?
Does that sugar ration change dependent on my age, hours I’m awake, activity?

It seems there are at least 2 opposing camps re: what sweetener I can use to substitute refined sugar.

1) There’s the anti fructose ‘family’ e.g. I quit sugar blog, NZ sugar free blog, who point out that dates contain 30% fructose (keeping in mind sugar is 50% fructose, 50% glucose), that honey is 40% fructose (so only 10% less than table sugar).
Their main thrust is that “Body converts fructose to fat. Fructose is addictive. Fructose disrupts the signal from the stomach to the brain to say “I’m full, stop eating”( NZ Sugar Free, Bad Sugars). In Dr. Robert Lustig’s book Fat Chance, he explains the affect of fructose on ghrelin levels…

“In humans, ghrelin levels rise with subjective hunger, peak at the time of voluntary food consumption (which is why your stomach grumbles at noon), and decrease after a meal. However, fructose intake does not decrease ghrelin; therefore, caloric intake is not suppressed”. 

I quit sugar, suggests to replace table sugar with their preferred rice malt syrup or stevia.

Dianne Onstad’s “Whole Foods Companion (a guide for adventurous cooks, curious shoppers and lovers of natural foods)” a book I love to bring out at dinner parties says this about rice malt syrup:

“Brown rice syrup is prepared by adding dried sprouted barley or barley enzymes to cooked whole-grain rice and fermenting the mixture until the malt enzymes convert some of the rice starch into glucose (about 3 %) and maltose (about 45%). Because brown rice syrup is high in complex carbohydrates, it enters the bloodstream slowly and can be considered a balanced sweetner that will not upset blood sugar levels. Very easy to digest, it is also hypoallergenic and contains no fructose or sucrose.”

In regard to stevia, a reader has made this comment on the I quit sugar ‘Is your sugar substitute worse sugar’:
“I am breastfeeding and I have been using stevia to make treats for my 4 year old. Why would this warning be on stevia? is it ok for me to continue using it?”

Another reader replies: “Stevia is commonly know for causing headaches, stomach upset etc and isn’t recommended while pregnant or nursing. How is that natural or good for your body? “

Alexx Stuart (from Alexxstuart.com) says this about green stevia powder:

” Stevia is a plant origin sweetener where less is definitely more. There are lots of white powdered stevias around out there and strange clear liquids, but because it comes from a leaf, I just don’t see how it can be totally natural in its white or clear form. No thank you. Hop onto amazon or into your favorite natural health store for the real thing.”

The Body Ecology Diet is sugar free because sugars feed yeast. Donna Gates recommends using stevia and lakanto and says this:

“For years we have used stevia liquid concentrate to satisfy our natural desire for sweet-tasting foods and beverages, and more recently lakanto. Sugars should not be eaten alone, they don’y combine with anything! That’s why you can get gas from cookies, since they combine starches, fruits and sugars. Never eat sugar if you want to remian healthy and free of yeast. And if you give your taste buds a chance to adjust to the new sweet taste of stevia and lakanto, you may never want sugar again anyway.”

Side note:
Here are two links on the negativity of dates/dried fruit.
1) Why dried fruit is not a healthy snack from I quit sugar
2) Salted Carob Bliss Balls from Alexx Stuart (replacing dried dates with fresh banana)

Another side note:
Here is a link ‘Is glucose any better than fructose’ from I quit sugar to avoiding all sweet food. period. The peeps are saying – you won’t miss it. Yup. Once quit, you won’t crave sweet. Amazing. Must, should, will I try it?

“The I Quit Sugar 8-Week Program sees everyone quit ALL sweetener (including glucose and stevia) for four weeks of the eight, so that our hormones, metabolisms and taste buds can recalibrate. I then invite everyone to reintroduce a minimal amount of sweetener back in to see how little their bodies are happy to live with. The aim is to reintroduce as little as possible. Some people find they don’t want any. –  taken from I quit sugar

A third side note:
If you want to be reminded as to the evil sugar causes to our body read Mark Sisson’s ‘The definitive guide to sugar‘ which flows like this:

Yes, sugar is one insanely powerful drug. Addictive, to boot.

Here’s Mark’s take on which sweetener to use:

“When you are choosing whether/how to include sugars in your Primal diet, I’d suggest paying closest attention to the total sugar content first, then to any nutritional benefits, and finally to the fructose content. Blueberries might have a relatively equal fructose/glucose ratio, but they offer huge antioxidant benefit. On the other hand, dried apricots have a lower fructose ratio, but their overall sugar content dwarfs many fruits ounce for ounce. Raw honey and coconut sugar likewise offer solid nutritional benefit for their sugar content compared to other sweeteners. Of course, any sugar should be used in strict moderation, but it’s clear not all sweeteners are Primally equal.”

2) There’s the anti processed family who suggest using sweeteners that haven’t gone through a process of refinement AND have additional nutritional value. Apart from sugar being high in fructose and fructose being the aspect of sugar that turns excess sugar into fat. Sugar is just sugar. End of story. Refined sugar / table sugar has NO nutritional value. As opposed to molasses (blackstrap) which contains:

folic acid. pyridoxine (B6). pantothenic (B5). niacin (B3). riboflavin (B2). Thiamine (B1). Beta Carotene (A). Manganese. Copper. Zinc. Sodium. Potassium. Phosphorus. Magnesium. Iron. Calcium
Thank you Dianne Onstad again.

I am curious – if I cook with molasses i.e. it is heated, does it retain all of the nutritional value above?

Dr Libby suggests using maple syrupas an ideal replacement for refined sugar. It contains small amounts of calcium, magnesium and mangnese” . Dr Libby  is offering seminars – Clearing the confusion about sugar–  in Auckland and Christchurch on Friday 28 October and Saturday 29 October at 7pm for $29.95

Kay Baxter and Bob Corker within the cookbook Change of Heart suggest to “use natural sweeteners in moderation, such as honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, dehydrated cane sugar (sold as Rapadura, shakkar or others) and stevia powder.

Nourishing Traditions  (The Cookbook that challenges politically correct nutrition and the diet dictocrats) by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig (based on Weston A. Price) says this: “Digestion of refined carbohydrates calls on the body’s own store of vitamins, minerals and enzymes for proper metabolization. When B vitamins are absent, for example, the breakdown of carbohydrates cannot take place, yet most B vitamins are removed during the refining process. Moderate use of natural sweeteners is found in many traditional societies. Thus it is perfectly acceptable to satisfy your sweet tooth by eating fully ripened fruit in season and limited amounts of certain natural sweeteners high in vitamins and minerals such as raw honey, date sugar, dehydrated cane sugar juice (commercially available as Rapadura) and maple syrup. Avoid all refined sugars including table sugar, so-called raw sugar or brown sugar (boith composed of about 96 % refined sugar) corn syrup, fructose and large amounts of fruit juice.”

Side note number 4:
Sally Fallon and Mary Enig summarise the health implications of sugar as this:
“More plagues than heart disease can be laid at sugar’s door. A survey of medical journals in the 1970s produced findings implicating sugar as a causative factor in kidney diesease, liver disease, shortened life span, increased desire for coffee and tobacco, atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Sugar consumption is associated with hyperactivity, behaviour problems, lack of concentration and violent tendencies. Sugar consumption encoruages the overgrowth of candida albicans, a systemic fungus in the digestive tract, causing it to spread to the respiratory system, tissues and internal organs. Sugar consumption is positively associated with cancer in humans and test animals. Tmours are known to be enormous sugar absorbers. Reserach indicates that it is the fructose, not the glcouse, moiety of sugar that is most harmful, especially for growing chilldren. Yet the greatest increase in sugar consumption during the last two decades is from high fructose corn syrup used in soft drinks, ketchup and many other fabricated foods aimed at children.”

My leanings are to use maple syrup and/or rapadura sugar (recipe dependent). I’m going to stay away from honey cos I don’t actually like the taste of it, it’s spendy, difficult to manoeuvre off my spatula and I’m worried about our depleting bees and don’t wish to make any further demands on the little buzzy beauties. Manuka honey in hot lemon ginger drinks can be left for the cold and flu season. I’m going to cool off my bliss ball mania (having read about the fructose level in dates). I may introduce  a family goal of weekends-only-for-processed-sweet-things.

If I get organised I’ll get some professional opinion on ‘my leanings’ and report back.

I’m also somewhat bemused.
Final ponderings and thinkerings before 10pm…
If the whole no-fat-diet-of-the-80s-till-now was BAD science, how can I be sure NO REFINED SUGAR is good science?

Remind me…what does our body need sugar for? I should go back to that Mindfood article I read at the hair colourists last week.
Are we suggesting our body could get enough ‘sugar’ from carbohydrates such as kumara, and that we needn’t eat even the recommended 2 pieces of fresh fruit a day?

Hubby reminded me fruit has been refined / modified for a ‘better’ ‘consumer’ experience i.e. fruit is now sweeter and has more flesh than yesteryear. The original apple was smaller and more tart for example.

Upon sampling my breastmilk I ponder – why is it so sweet? Has our breastmilk always tasted this way? Would my milk taste the same as a lactating Amazonian, or Namibian? Could our desire for sweet not be some psychological ‘escape’ but in fact a ‘return’ to what we first knew and that which kept us safe?

I love reading your comments, kia ora for taking the time to share your thoughts

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