Sugar offers no useful nutrition; it actually strips nutrients from the body; contributes to excessive weight gain and is linked to tooth decay; it stresses the pancreas and can lead to diabetes and hypoglyceamia (low blood sugar). People who cannot handle sugar have symptoms such as: fatigue, nervousness, depression, apprehension, craving for sweets, inability to handle alcohol, inability to concentrate, allergies and low blood pressure (15).
Mary Ann Block, D.O.,P.A., author of No More Ritalin, believes that many of the symptoms linked to ADD and ADHD could be due to hypoglycemia. She states that this condition “is the most significant underlying problem I find in children who exhibit behavioural problems”. She lists the behavioural symptoms of hypoglycemia as “the child who is agitated or irritable when he or she wakes up in the morning, or before meals, and then is better after eating: and the child with the Jekyll and Hyde behavior, who is sweet and fine one minute, and then for no apparent reason, is agitated, angry, and irritable the next”. Changing simple things in the diet are the key. “Make sure the child never gets hungry, and eliminate refined carbohydrates, such as candy, cakes, pies, and soft drinks”. Do not make children wait for dinner if they are hungry. Give them a healthy snack.
Sugar has also been scientifically linked to hyperactivity. Some studies do not show this link, but when Yale University researchers gave white sugar to children and compared their blood adrenaline levels before and after, they found the levels were ten times higher (16). Adrenaline is a heart pumping chemical produced by the adrenal glands that prepares you for dangerous situations. They also found that the children were anxious, irritable and had difficulty concentrating after consuming sugar (17). Be aware that it is sugar that is the major cause of childhood obesity, not fat. It gets stored and if it is not used up in exercise it turns into fat.
Clinical research with hyperactive and psychotic children, as well as those with brain injuries and learning disabilities, has shown: “An abnormally high family history of diabetes-that is, parents and grandparents who cannot handle sugar; an abnormally high incidence of low blood glucose, or functional hypoglycemia in the children themselves, which indicates that their systems cannot handle sugar; dependence on a high level of sugar in the diets of the very children who cannot handle it. Inquiry into the dietary history of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic reveals the diet of their choice is rich in sweets, candy, cakes, coffee, caffeinated beverages, and foods prepared with sugar. These foods, which stimulate the adrenals, should be eliminated or severely restricted”.(18)
Refined sugar is the worst because when it goes into our bloodstream, it is not in its whole form, therefore the nutrients that are missing from the refining process (mollasses) are taken from the reserves in the body. It is an anti-nutrient and should be avoided wherever possible. According to Native American theory, if a food bypasses the digestive tract, it disconnects us from earth and creates imbalances in our neural pathways. The digestive process is designed to give ‘protection’ from toxic food and filter any danger away. Sugar and white (refined) flour bypasses the digestive process.
In 1991, the FDA banned the importation of Stevia. The powder of the leaf has been used for hundreds of years as an alternative sweetener. It is used widely in Japan with no adverse effects. Scientists involved in reviewing stevia have declared it to be safe for human consumption – something which has been well known in many parts of the world where it is not banned. Everyone that I have spoken with in regards to this issue believes that stevia was banned to keep the product from taking hold in the US and cutting into sales of aspartame.(19)
Xylitol is another alternative sweetener that also has incredible health benefits. Extracted from birch bark, recent research has shown that it has many healing effects, especially for those sensitive to sugar. Although it looks and tastes just like sugar, Xylitol does not function in the same way. Where sugar has a negative effect on the body, Xylitol heals and repairs. It helps build a strong immune system, protects against degenerative diseases and even has anti-ageing benefits (20). It is an antimicrobial, therefore preventing the growth of bacteria. It is alkaline, whereas sugar is acidic. An alkaline digestive system is vital for good health. Sugar and related substances (sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, lactose etc) feed dangerous bacteria and fungi in the body which can lead to conditions such as candida.
The most important aspect of Xylitol is how it stops sugar and carbohydrate cravings. Its use cannot lead to obesity because it is a slow releasing carbohydrate. Over 1500 scientific studies have found that the more you use Xylitol, sugar cravings become less and less. It also reduces insulin levels, so it is safe for diabetics. It is the perfect alternative to sugar, especially for children who have a ‘sweet tooth’.