Sugar: practical perspectives

Whatever your thoughts on it may be, chances are that just by living in America you are consuming too much sugar.


In summer we elevate ice cream as our go-to treat and splurge on iced mochas (until they become habit). As summer winds down, Halloween lurks at the edges ready to take us in its grasp. Then it’s the end-of-year obstacle course of holiday festivities.

All this in addition to what may be a more sugar-laden lifestyle than we even realize.

Three of HAALo’s practitioners give their perspectives on the sweet stuff and how to tame those cravings that derail even our best efforts.

VictoriaVictoria LaFont, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, Certified GAPS Practitioner
A Nutritionist’s Perspective

The thing with sugar is that it's our current villain. But, there aren't too many actual villains in the nutrition world. High Fructose Corn Syrup, rancidified oils like CANOLA (Canadian Oil Low Acid it what Canola stands for), GMOs and products like Tums deserve more focus than this one simple carbohydrate.

Sugar, in and of itself, is NOT bad. It's how we use it that is inappropriate. It is processed sugar's interaction with our weakened bodies that needs the attention.

Generally, we are a culture of blamers that need something to blame, and our blame just went from fats to sugar. At some point we will (hopefully!) become aware that sugar is not creating the problems we think it is, just as we learned that fat is not the underlying cause of heart disease.

Sugar cane is one of the most mineral rich plants on planet Earth!  But, we've bastardized it and consumed more than we should. That's the problem, combined with chronic stress, sitting all day and lack of passion for life. THESE are what create disease.

Functional practitioners that focus on the true underlying causes of dysfunction in the body have known all along that fats are not the culprits that create chronic illness and inflammation. I'm glad to see that healthy fats such as butter and coconut oil are finally getting the positive media attention they deserve.

It's biochemical fact that appropriate lipids and amino acids actually build immunity, create sound cellular structure and hormonally satiate us so that we don't crave the foods of commerce — namely, processed sugars.

Want to give up sugar? Eat butter.

rexanneRexanne Diehl, Siddha Vaidya and Ayurvedic practitoner
An Ayurvedic Perspective

In Ayurveda, sweet promotes sweetness in the mind and heart. It is one of the six tastes that we need daily. The question is: how much and when? The answer depends on your dosha, time of day and the season.

If you have a tendency to be dependent on sugar for energy, you will find that it becomes habitual. The body starts relying solely on it for energy. Sugar provides a temporary relief to your craving, but ultimately it does not build a solid foundation for good health.

Managing your sugar intake can help balance your digestion, weight and mental health.

If you are finding yourself having uncontrollable sugar cravings come in to HAALo and talk with an Ayurvedic practitioner about Shardunika leaf powder (Gymnema sylvestre). This profound herb, in combination with dosha-specific herbs, has been known to assist in easing sugar cravings.

Anna-Werderitsch-TCM-sqAnna Werderitsch, L.Ac. and TCM practitioner
A Traditional Chinese Medicine Perspective

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the sweet flavor is associated with spleen function. The spleen and the stomach are our main digestive function. The stomach handles the initial food processing. From there the spleen takes over and transports the food to other organs and transforms it into qi.

A spleen thrives in a warm and dry environment, meaning it prefers warmed foods and bland grains. Too much sweetness generates a dampness that drowns the spleen, reducing its ability to generate qi. This physically manifests in our bodies as sluggishness, fatigue in the morning, phlegm, and loose stools.

The spleen is our major organ for digestive and energy factors. It is nourished by sweet flavors — meaning whole foods like broccoli and grains, not highly refined sugar. The spleen needs moderate energy throughout the day via foods that provide a slow burn, so protein is crucial. Millet cooked in homemade broth is a wonderful spleen food.

Sweet cravings are an indicator from the spleen. Avoid fast-burning sugary items and reach for food that will provide a slower burn and nourish your spleen in the long term.

If you grab an iced blended mocha, you are asking for serious spleen blowout. Not only is it sugary but it’s also cold so it takes extra energy to bring it up to body temp before it can finally be digested. This type of digestive churning is often manifested in other ways in our bodies, like “mental mastication,” if you mull things over excessively or overthink, your spleen may need some nourishment.

Almost everybody in our culture has spleen qi deficiency and issues with sugar. I always tend to the spleen in my treatments and in my herbal formulas.

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