It’s no secret that sugar is bad for your teeth, bad for your waistline and that excessive consumption of refined sugar is a contributing factor to type 2 diabetes. But did you know that sugar can be damaging to your health in other ways? Recent studies have increasingly linked excessive sugar in the diet to inflammatory processes in the body. For diabetics, the situation becomes a catch-22 wherein inflammation increases insulin resistance, keeping blood glucose levels high and leading to problems such as foot ulceration, diabetic retinopathy and even diabetic kidney failure.
If you suffer from chronic inflammation, or if you’re currently dealing with a sports injury or other acute inflammatory process, it’s important to take into consideration the amount of refined sugar you consume each day and how it may be hindering your recovery. If you recognize that your refined sugar intake could be affecting your weight loss goals, try these sweet-tasting foods:
Visit any grocery store or natural food store with a good selection of dried fruits and trail mixes that contain them, and you will find that dried fruits have come a long way since the little boxes of raisins your parents may have packed into your school lunches when you were growing up. Dried fruits commonly available in grocery stores include cranberries, apple chips, apricots, banana chips and papaya. By buying an inexpensive food dehydrator, you can even make your own fruit snacks at home and enjoy the concentrated sweetness without damaging your health.
If you can’t live without sugar in your coffee or tea and don’t care for the taste of most artificial sweeteners, give stevia a try. Stevia, an extract of the naturally sweet stevia plant, is widely available in supermarkets and is largely free of the chemicals in other artificial sweeteners. Stevia also makes an excellent substitute for sugar in smoothies and many other recipes.