Friday, January 23, 2015

The Type of Sugar You Eat Matters

In Ayurveda food is classified as good or bad depending on the individual consuming it.  Food has six tastes (sweet, salty, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent), and the food we eat should be a balance of all the tastes.  However, some people need to favor certain tastes over others based on their body type.

Sweet is by far the most popular taste and it is also the one that is consumed excessively putting one's health at risk.  Another Ayurvedic principle in eating is that the food should be fresh and close to its most natural state.  This makes the food easier to digest and nourish our bodies. Plain table sugar, which is sucrose, is minimally processed.  However, its commercial use is limited and most companies prefer to sweeten their food products with high fructose corn syrup.  The difference between the two sweeteners on a cellular level is the presence of separate molecules called monosaccharides in corn syrup and disaccharides in table sugar.  From a recent study, the mortality rate of female rats increased significantly when the sweetener consumed was corn syrup versus plain table sugar. Additionally, the rats were less fertile when they ate the corn syrup, which shows another health risk.

Clearly, the digestion and processing of the corn syrup was difficult, and thus the rats' health suffered.  Disease, according to Ayurveda, does not happen immediately.  Usually there is a slow progression where the body shows symptoms of where and tear with illness eventually developing. I am not proposing that eating the amount of sugar an average American does is okay, because our sugar consumption is excessive.  Sugar is not just in desserts.  It is hidden in all our processed foods and condiments.  Being mindful of the sugar we eat and trying to reduce it even a little bit would be a fantastic start to improve one's diet.  However, when we do consume sugar, we would be better off eating real sugar or other natural sugars like raw honey, molasses, fruit and turbinado sugar.  

A calorie is not always a calorie in Ayurveda (and according to this recent study) because of the quality of the food and the person eating it.  

Stay healthy & well,

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