If you’ve been following family health advocacy for any amount of time you know that we’ve talked a lot about sugar and its numerous negative effects on the mind and body. But anyone who loves or is addicted to sugar knows how hard it is to quit. So, we thought it would help a lot of people if we talked about sugar substitutes that can ease you into reducing your total sugar intake.
Pure, unadulterated, raw honey is not even technically a sugar, it’s more of a whole food. It contains a lot of different beneficial compounds like powerful antioxidants that can help eradicate free radicals. If substitute your sugar with raw honey, you can dramatically reduce the impact on your blood sugar levels. This is because raw honey is a lower glycemic which means it’s going to have a lower impact on your blood sugar. In general, that means it’s going to give you more of a gentle bell curve with your blood sugar levels and insulin spike versus a big giant sharp spike and drop off. There are some other benefits of raw honey other than the fact that it’s sweet and it tastes good like the fact that it contains bee pollen which has a lot of powerful properties. Bee pollen can prevent allergies. If you are consuming local honey, you can help your allergies out by simply just consuming that honey because, in a way, it builds up an antibody or histamine blocker, if you will, towards that allergen. Raw honey also contains some electrolytes which can help restore the energy you’re lacking later in the day or after a workout. When you consume honey, you restore your liver glycogen at a different rate than you would if it was just a simple refined sugar. This means you get all the benefits of restoring liver glycogen without the negative side effects. The benefits being you’re simply going to help your serotonin levels. What happens is when you consume carbs and your liver glycogen fills up, it triggers the release of tryptophan. This tryptophan cascades and helps the production of serotonin which helps you relax and go to sleep.
Dolcedi is not that popular so it may be harder to find. It is an apple nectar, and it averages between seven and nine on the glycemic index scale which is very low. There is not a lot of research on the benefits, but it is definitely sweet and a good sugar substitute.
The reason that dates are so good is simply because they are super high in fiber which means that in addition to getting the carbohydrate’s sweet benefits, it negates a lot of the negative impact by having a high amount of fiber, meaning your overall amount of net carbs is much less than if you were to just have pure sugar. But additionally, dates are high in potassium so if you are trying to restore muscle glycogen or restore yourself after a workout then they are a good option. Another benefit because of it’s high fiber content is bowel regulation.
Coconut sugar contains something called inulin. Inulin is what is called a prebiotic fiber that is essentially the fertilizer for gut bacteria. We need that fertilizer for our gut bacteria to grow, flourish and to proliferate. So, coconut sugar containing inulin gives us one of the most powerful and one of the only natural sources of fiber that we can get to help our gut biome. Coconut sugar also has a large amount of magnesium and potassium.
Agave nectar comes from cactus and its benefits include being in the sweet spot on the glycemic index meaning it’s not so low that it’s barely going to have an impact but it’s not so high that it’s going to spike your blood sugar levels. So, it’s just enough to refill your muscles and liver but without having the negative implications. Agave nectar is used in a lot of different recipes because it is very easy for the body to break down and therefore much more bioavailable. For those with inflammatory bowel disease, agave nectar can be easier to digest.
As a retired registered massage therapist, I’ve always been interested in health. I grew up loving sports so that carried into my adult life in my chosen career paths and in my personal life. I now stay active with weight training, hiking and biking. My professional life has always been in health care. This has inspired me to seek out and adopt a life of natural health and wellness.