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Sugar, Sugar Everywhere

Inspire Health Event Calendar June 7, 2013

I’m a self-confessed lover of sweets! I love everything sweet and for years the refined, sugary foods in my diet caused many health issues. From body pain to foggy thinking, I knew my love of sweet foods was to blame.

But why is refined sugar so hard on the body? White sugar and high-fructose corn syrup have been stripped of all of their trace minerals that the body needs in order to digest them properly. So instead they use the body’s nutrient resources to break down these sugars. In particular they steal B vitamins and magnesium from the body…nutrients needed by the adrenal glands to handle and manage stress. Through this adrenal stress, high sugar intake can increase feelings of anxiety and leave us feeling overwhelmed.

Refined sugar is usually mixed with low-fibre, refined flour and this potent combo can cause a spike in your blood sugar…leading to a blood sugar drop a few hours later. A drop in blood sugar ramps up our craving for sweet foods, which creates another spike…and another drop, and so on and so on. Many of our food choices are made during these blood sugar drops, and instead of grabbing a healthy snack we tend to need something fast, easy, and sweet right away. It’s a hard cycle to break, particularly if your first sweet treat is in the morning.

But, not all sugars are the same. The good news is that whole, unrefined sugar affects the body very differently than refined sugar. Let’s take a look at the different types of sugar.

Refined Sugars

White & brown sugar (sugar cane or sugar beet)

These sugars have been fully refined and stripped of all nutrients. Brown sugar has been refined as well, but some of the molasses removed in the processing is added back in. Sugar beet is also a highly genetically-modified organism (GMO).

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)

This highly refined sugar is made in a lab behind closed doors. Very few people know how this sugar is processed. Due to its very cheap price it has been added to all sorts of foods, from drinks to yogurt, and even to some seemingly healthy processed foods. HFCS been linked to weight gain, diabetes, and liver issues…stay away from this sugar! Also known as glucose/fructose and corn sugar.

All Artificial Sweeteners

Research is finding a link between these sweeteners and metabolic issues. They’ve even been linked to more weight gain than refined sugar. Be especially careful when these sweeteners are added to drinks.

Healthy Sweets


Our body loves fruit when it’s in its whole form. The fibre slows down the release of the naturally occurring fructose and it is full of vitamins and antioxidants. Be careful of too much fruit juice.


Raw, local honey is a healthy and healing food. Unprocessed and low in fructose, it won’t cause the liver issues that agave and other fructose sugars can. It also has anti-viral properties and works wonderfully on a stubborn cough.

Maple Syrup

This whole sugar contains all of the trace minerals needed to be properly digested and it is delicious on oatmeal and other breakfast whole grains.

Sucanut (unrefined cane sugar)

This is a great substitute in any recipe that calls for white or brown sugar. Same flavour, but unrefined!  

About the Author

Lisa Kilgour, RHN

Lisa Kilgour graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition and left Toronto for the beautiful Okanagan Valley to practice nutrition full time. She loves teaching and helping people find their own health through their diet. She works at InspireHealth Southern Interior – Kelowna.