8 Reasons to Stop Drinking Soda

Every time you see a chilled bottle of soda, aren’t you tempted to grab, gulp it down and mess up your blood sugar level? Soda definitely isn’t healthy in any amount and there is absolutely no reason or justification to consume it.

Listed below are eight great reasons to immediately stop drinking the fizzy stuff.

  1. Heart Attacks, Strokes and More
    The health consequences of drinking soda are numerous, but some are less obvious than others. For example, most people correlate soda consumption with obesity, but there are numerous other negative effects of soda than obesity as well.

    One study links the consumption of non-diet soda to a 20% higher risk of developing coronary heart disease. Another study showed that just one sugary beverage per day may significantly increase the risk of heart attacks.

  2. Stains and Corrodes Your Teeth
    Coca-Cola and other dark-coloured sodas stain the teeth. In a test conducted by experts, pieces of enamel were placed in Coke and other carbonated drinks for 48 hours, and they observed a 5% weight loss of enamel. The high acidity content (pH 2.0-4.0) causes corrosion of the enamel.
  3. Limited Hydration
    Coke and soft drinks contain caffeine, which is a diuretic. A diuretic is a drug that speeds up the rate of urine production – meaning it removes water from your body. While you can get your thirst quenched when drinking soda, you do not get as hydrated as you would drinking water.

  4. Causes insomnia and Sleeping Disorders
    Caffeine prevents drowsiness by blocking the effects of hormones serotonin and melatonin blocking adenosine receptors (sleep-inducers) from being bound.

    Apart from causing insomnia, it is also known to reduce the full benefits of sleep that the body needs.

  5. Obesity
    Liquid sugar does not cause satiety in the same way as solid foods, making people eat more total calories. Sugar-sweetened beverages may be the most fattening aspect of the modern diet.
  6. Large Amounts of Sugar Are Turned into Fat in the Liver
    Sugar is composed of two molecules: glucose and fructose. Glucose can be metabolized by every cell in the body, whereas fructose can only be metabolized by one organ, the liver.

    Sugary drinks are the easiest (and most common) way to consume excessive amounts of fructose. When we consume too much, in the context of a high-carb, high-calorie Western diet, the liver becomes overloaded and turns the fructose into fat. Some of the fat gets shipped out as blood triglycerides, while part of it remains in the liver. Over time, this can contribute to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

  7. Sugary Soda Can Cause Insulin Resistance
    The main function of the hormone insulin is to drive glucose from the bloodstream into cells. But when we drink sugary soda, the cells tend to become resistant to the effects of insulin. When this happens, the pancreas must make even more insulin to remove the glucose from the bloodstream, so insulin levels in the blood go up.

    This condition is known as insulin resistance.

  8. Sugary Soda Can Be Downright Addictive
    When sugar goes into the body, dopamine is released in the brain, kicking in a feeling of pleasure. The human brain is hardwired to seek out activities that release dopamine. Activities that releases huge amounts are especially desirable. This is actually how addictive drugs function, and the reason people can become dependent on them.

Well, numerous studies suggest that sugar, and processed junk foods in general, can have similar effects.

17 Simple Homemade Detox Drinks

The term ‘detox drink’ may have come across as an elixir of the elite or for those who live a hedonistic lifestyle, but in fact, it is for anybody and everybody.

But first, let’s understand what detoxification truly is.

The various toxins people are exposed to in daily life leads to impurities being accumulated in the body. This can lead to various diseases and health conditions over the years. Toxins entering our body can be from pesticides in fruits and vegetables, air, water pollution, unhealthy high-fat foods, and even stress.

Detoxification is a counter-check process wherein the body eliminates these toxins accumulated over a period. This cleansing process is mainly carried out through the liver. Detox drinks are basically various vegetable juice combinations with a dash of healthy spices which help in a natural detoxification process of the body.

The following foods have tremendous detox benefits:

  1. Lemon: Rich in antioxidants, boosts immunity, improves digestion and constipation, aids in weight loss, and is good for the skin.
  2. Ginger: Improves metabolism, improves blood circulation, improves digestion, relieves nausea, and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. Cucumber: Helps in hydration, regulates blood pressure, low in calories, anti-cancer properties, and helps lower cholesterol.
  4. Amla: Rich in antioxidant vitamin C, boosts immunity, slows down the ageing process, prevents water retention, supports a healthy heart and helps reduce blood sugar.
  5. Bottle Gourd: Aids in weight loss, improves digestion, treats flatulence, treats sleeping disorders, is high in fibre, and prevents acidity.
  6. Pepper: Aids in respiratory relief, anti-bacterial properties, helps in weight loss and improves skin.
  7. Aloe Vera: Increases immunity, reduces inflammation, reduces oxidative stress, strengthens the intestinal walls, anti-carcinogenic, lowers cholesterol and stabilizes blood sugar.
  8. Honey: Boosts memory, anti-bacterial effects, boosts immunity, improves sleep quality, aids in weight loss, regulates insulin, and improves digestion.
  9. Apple Cider Vinegar: Aids in digestion, regulates blood sugar, banishes bad breath, helps in weight loss, balances pH levels, reduces cholesterol levels, and dissolves kidney stones.
  10. Cinnamon: Has anti-microbial properties, rich in anti-oxidants, regulates blood pressure, aids weight loss, lowers blood sugar, increases blood circulation and decreases cholesterol.
  11. Mint: Aids in digestion, aids in weight loss, good for skin, helps relieve nausea and headache, increases memory, reduces stress and is good blood cleanser.
  12. Coriander: Rich in anti-oxidants, good for digestion, anti-inflammatory properties, lowers LDL & increases HDL cholesterol, lowers blood sugar, prevents cardiovascular damage.
  13. Apple: High in fiber, heart healthy, reduces the risk of diabetes, prevents diarrhea and constipation, helps in weight control, lowers cholesterol, and prevents gallstones.
  14. Carrot: Thriving with antioxidants, improves eyesight, boosts immunity, decreases cholesterol, regulates blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and improves liver function.
  15. Orange: Boosts immunity, antioxidant properties, heart healthy, relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, supports respiratory health, prevents cancer, and lowers risk of stroke.
  16. Beetroot: Anti-inflammatory properties, helps lower blood pressure, nutrient dense, blood cleanser, controls blood pressure and is good for bone health.
  17. Tomato: Antioxidant benefits, vitamin and mineral dense, boosts immunity, reduces blood clot risk, good for eye health, and reduces oxidative stress.

 

The following is a list of various combinations of detox drinks you can have for good health:

Lime and Ginger; Cucumber, Lime and Ginger; Indian Gooseberry (Amla); Bottle-gourd, Aloe Vera & Honey; Apple Cider Vinegar, Mint and Coriander; Apple and Carrot; Cinnamon and Honey; Lemon and Mint; Orange, Carrot and Ginger; Aloe Vera and Mint; Carrot and Beetroot; Tomato, Mint and Coriander; Tomato and Carrot; Bottle-gourd and Tomato; Carrot, Beetroot and Orange; Cucumber, Mint and Lime.

While it is ok to indulge in various foods and drinks, do remember that the body cannot always recover on its own. A detox is important and now you’ve been empowered with the information for a cost-effective way to cleanse your internal self.

The “4C” Mantra for Weight Loss

Weight loss is perhaps one of the most talked about, researched, and fast-evolving topics about the human body. The weight loss industry has churned out zillions of weight loss diets, gizmos, apps, fitness programs, medicines, supplements, and gurus.

Most of us have tried several of these, managed to shed some weight, maintained it for a few weeks, and then defaulted back to old habits and put every kg back on – and then some.

However, if you dwell really deep into the reasons behind your issues with body weight, you’ll realise that there are 4 C’s that make up every successful weight-loss program:

  1. Consistency
    Any exercise regime or diet will only yield long-lasting results if and when it is followed consistently. These changes need to be incorporated into your whole lifestyle, not just at certain time periods of the day.

    Any inconsistency in following these changes would not only lead to the failure of efforts but also result in a lot of frustration within the individual. It is bound to make you give up faster. The key is to apply these changes slowly and steadily, and then stick to it.

    Once it becomes a part of life, then it will seem effortless. For example, implementing a simple change like drinking water before eating. Initially, it would require a little bit of an effort, especially if you are used to going straight to the meal. but once you do it consistently every day, it will become second nature.

  2. Challenge
    Who doesn’t like a good challenge?

    It kills boredom and gives a blood rush. That’s exactly what a challenge does to the body too, and drives away complacency. Make sure the exercises you choose are not too easy or too comfortable. It should require an effort, otherwise it won’t give the desired results.

    It is important to continuously challenge yourself and increase the intensity of the workout. If you are able to run 2 km in 20 min this week, then the enhanced target should be 2.5 km in 20 min the next week and then 3 and so on. Similarly, if 50 crunches is your maximum today, then aim to reach a count of 100 in the next 2 weeks.

    Over the past few years, HIIT (High intensity Interval Training) has become a hit among fitness aficionados. In layman’s terms, it simply means alternating between high intensity and low intensity in your workout. For example, if you plan to spend 10 min on the treadmill, you could alternate between running and walking instead of just walking. Not only does this workout build stamina, but it also gives better results in lesser time.

    Just remember, start slow and take precautions against injuries. It won’t hurt to maintain a work out diary to keep notes of the workouts and repetitions. Keep adding the numbers and keep losing the inches.

  3. Calorie Deficit
    You need to cut calories to lose fat. This step is not about following crash diets because they don’t lead to sustainable weight loss. The idea is to reduce the calorie intake without starving yourself.

    Try substituting: fried food with grilled/ baked foods, white with brown bread, soda with green tea, carbs with protein etc. that’s how you watch and cut calories. Once your larder or wardrobe for food looks healthier then it’s not really that to plan your meals in advance . Always have a bowl of salad and / or fruits ready to munch on when hunger strikes between meals. Sprouts makes for an excellent snack and also satiates hunger. Also, have a steady supply of green vegetables, eggs, oats, chicken and fish in your kitchen to make it easy to create healthier meals.

  4. Caring for Yourself
    Losing weight should not be about punishing the body, and following a healthy diet doesn’t mean that eating out has to be ruled out.

The idea, be it at home or at a restaurant, is to be conscious of what’s on the plate and reduce the portion size. Small changes like asking for steamed vegetables instead of mashed potatoes or fries, substituting brown rice instead of white, reducing the portion of the noodles in the bowl and topping it up with veggies and meat will have far reaching consequences in this weight loss process.

Eating Healthy on the Go

From ‘fast’ to ‘on the go’, food and eating habits have been on a constant journey of evolution to please human hunger.

There was a buzz created a few years ago with the invention of fast food but that is now considered greasy and unhealthy. Today, a healthy meal is the gastronomic cool word that everybody likes to chew on. But, the term ‘healthy meals’ often fall prey to the preconceived notion of spending too much time in the supermarket, followed by the time spent in the kitchen to cook. So, to the rescue comes ‘on the go’ healthy foods.

But what we often forget while opting for these ‘on-the-go’ meals is the right to make a choice. A choice to wisely pick the time of the meal, portion size and the nutritional value of the ingredients.

These tips will help you choose healthy meals on the go wisely;

Tip 1: Keep Your Bag Loaded
Whenever you step out of the house or office, always ensure that your bag is filled with some munchies such as nuts, seeds, or fruit. This helps avoid starvation and binge eating.

Tip 2: Never Stay Hungry
Staying hungry is never the option. A full stomach helps better in thinking. So, if you intend to make the right decisions and keep your emotions on tap, eat.

Tip 3: Keep Your Meals Light
At times, it is unavoidable to choose your preferred type of cuisine when dining with professional company. At such times, find the healthiest option and try and keep it as light as you can, not on the portion size but the heaviness of the meal. This will also avoid bloating or discomfort during a meeting.

Tip 4: Avoid Sides
Sides are the biggest culprits. They look light but are the heaviest on your stomach as well as your pockets. So ditch the oily appetizers and french fries next time.

Tip 5: No More Binge Eating
Binge eating is usually an outcome of staying hungry for a long duration. If you feel very hungry before a meal, start your meal with 2 full glasses of water or salad to avoid overeating and regretting later on.

Tip 6: Water Your Needs
Water needs to be with you at all times, whether you feel the need or not. Sip water every 15 minutes to avoid dehydration. Drinking 3-4 litres of water also helps in boosting metabolism and keeps your bingeing in check.

Tip 7: Avoid Wafers and Cookies
Wafers and cookies do not make it to the list of light meals. The oil and sugar are a strict no-no even in small quantities. Try to replace them with nuts or roasted snacks.

Tip 8: Fruits are Life Savers
Fruits can not only compensate for your meal but also your favourite sides, too. Try creating healthy dips with your fruits to make them interesting.

Tip 9: Your Palm is Your Platter
When in doubt, pull your hand out. Portion size is the biggest dilemma of the health industry. The best way to treat this dilemma is to use your palm as an ideal portion size for all kinds of meals.

Tip 10: Be Creative
Diets don’t have to be boring. Use your creativity to make your meals interesting. Try out dips, sauces and new cuisines to surprise your palate.

Red Wine vs White Wine

Wine has been produced and sipped for thousands of years, and wine lovers usually have a preference of either white or red. If you have made a resolution to count your calories and improve your health, you may be wondering which wine offers a better health benefit.

Although red wine is regarded as ‘good for the heart’ and often receives praises, white wine is not without its qualities as well. Let’s compare.

Health Benefits
Both white and red wine is good for our health. Although they are made of grapes, they do not provide the same health benefits as fruits. After they go through the process of fermentation, the grapes lose some of their original nutrition, but they also gain new health benefits.

One of the main benefits of white wine is that it can improve the health of your heart and prevent heart disease. Studies have also indicated its positive effects on the health of the lungs.

Red wine, on the other hand, contains grape skins and a powerful type of antioxidants called resveratrols. Resveratrols offer excellent protection for the blood vessels, and they can eliminate blood clots as well. They are also effective in inhibiting the activities of enzymes that stimulate the growth of cancer cells and slow down the immune response.

Red wine also contains polyphenols, which are excellent antioxidants that can perform a wide variety of tasks, including reducing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improving the immune system, combating against harmful bacteria and preventing cancer. There is also a significant amount of flavonoids in red wines, and these antioxidants are known to be able to lower the risk of cancer.

Health Drawbacks

Red Wine: Most of those red-wine-touting studies have been on animals, and the amount of wine we’d have to drink to equal the same amount given to mice would counteract any of the supposed benefits. Also, those 129 calories a glass can add up, even if you are only drinking one a day.

White Wine: White wine is the more acidic of the two, meaning it can be bad for your teeth. In addition, white wines contain far less of the heart-healthy and cancer-preventing antioxidants that reds do, and have about the same amount of calories.

Conclusion
Generally speaking, red wine is considered a healthier option than white.
However, high-quality white wines from certain winemakers may offer more health benefits than some red wines.

Wines do not only improve physical health; they can also help you overcome stress. If you are suffering from a serious disease, the calming effect of wine may give you the mental focus to help you overcome the illness.

Bartenders warning! Even though wine is beneficial for health, it should not be consumed excessively.

6 Nutrition Tips for a Healthier You!

  1. Get Up and Get Moving!
    Exercise not only helps burn fat, but it is a great stress reliever. Any form of exercise is good –walking, jogging, running or working out with weights. It helps to boost your energy, strength confidence, tingles endorphins (aka the feel-good hormone) and reduces anxiety.

    So the next time you are feeling the blues just get up and get moving.

  2. Ditch the Colas!
    Believe it or not, artificial sweeteners confuse your body,  since it can understand the presence of sugar in the system but can’t find glucose. They make you crave for more sugar as artificial sweeteners yield no calories, and hence it teases your body and deprives it of nutrition. This leads to weight gain and ushers carb cravings.

    Water may not have the fizz to make you feel bubbly, but the colourless liquid is the best thirst quencher.

  3. Healthy Flora
    Did you know that we have bacteria in our gut (intestines) which needs to be balanced so that we can derive multiple benefits from its presence?
    They aid in digestion by helping in the secretion of gastric juices which are essential for digestion. These healthy microbes help in the synthesis of vitamins B12 & K as they are only absorbed in the intestine with the help of the intestinal flora.

    Healthy gut bacteria prevents constipation because it helps in the break-down of fibre in the intestines, which helps keep constipation at bay. And that’s not all, the flora also helps in increasing immunity by increasing the physical defence of the gut wall and help in the production of antimicrobial substances.
    Indulge in a big bowl of curd. Add in a dash of fruits for flavour or some flax seeds for additional benefits.

  4. Say NO to Processed Food
    The word processing by itself means that the food has undergone some treatment.

    These foods tend to be high in refined carbs, as they are either loaded with sugar or maida (white flour) which are both simple sugars and hence carb rich.

    Not only is processed food high in sugar but also in trans-fat, and the presence of harmful chemicals due to extravagant packaging. And what’s worse is that once you start consuming processed food, it is difficult to hit the stop button as they are quite addictive, and often lead to cause over-eating.

  5. Starvation is Not the Solution
    Starvation causes a sharp decrease in metabolism. Imagine you haven’t started your car in a few weeks. The first thing you will have to do to re-start is charge the car battery because in most likelihood it would have been dead. Our metabolism reacts in the same way.

    To keep your Body Metabolism Rate, (BMR) high you have to feed your body with food. As the body goes in a state of starvation, it needs glucose to keep going, hence the easy target is stored fat. But, as soon as you feed your body it will replenish the lost fat store, which may end up in an increased fat storage.

    Also, starvation creates a state of internal stress for the body. The body is drained of glucose and the brain, like a loyal manager sends signals to eat sugar, and thus adds to your sugar craving. All this leads to binge eating, and most people succumb to their craving.

    Prevent long gaps between meals. Eat at small frequent intervals.

  6. Fat is a Nutrient and Not a Flaw
    Fat is essential for the normal functioning of the body. As hard as it is to believe, fats act as nutrient carriers for fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E & K. Without the presence of fat, you will have a deficiency of these vitamins.

It plays a major role in brain function as it helps in the production of DHA and EPA. Fat also plays a role in production of hormones like oestrogen and testosterone. Not only does it lower bad cholesterol – LDL and VLDL – but it also raises the level of good cholesterol – HDL.

Moderation is always the key to good health, advice nutritionists. Make sure to include only healthy fats present in nuts, fish, egg, milk and other dairy products!

Eat Street is a Healthy Address

The general notion about diet food is that it is BORING. But, that’s not always the truth. Several Indian street food items are the ‘go-to’ snacks for millions of hungry mouths, and what the hungry mouths may have not realized is that most of these snacks are also diet-friendly. They are healthy and tasty if you know what to go for, and what to avoid.

Chaat certainly leads the pack in this category, so here are five healthy chaat munchies to have while you are on diet.

Sukha Bhel
While Pani puri and sev puri are good to avoid because the two key ingredients (puri and sev) are fried, the stomach friendly sukha bhel can be relished guilt free. And the best part is that along with the basic ingredients like puffed rice, chopped tomato, raw mango, roasted peanuts and boiled potato, you can make it healthier by topping it up with lots of crunchy veggies (cucumber, tomatoes, onion etc.) – and don’t forget to add chickpeas for extra protein.

Health Tip: Perfect snack for weight watchers if they can refrain from the sweet chutney (jaggery paste) and sev in it.

Chana Chaat
This is one protein-packed snack recommended for all, especially vegetarians. It is easy to make, easy to store, can be munched on the go, and can be had even if it is refrigerated.

While some people may have the tendency to put on weight due to dairy products, and a daily consumption of dal (pulses) may tend to be boring, the chana chaat is the perfect high-protein, tangy snack option.

Health tip: Sev on top and butter inside can be your diet spoiler, watch out!

Dhokla/Idli/Dosa
Ever wonder where vegetarians get all their protein from? Their breakfast, snacks like dhokla, khandvi, handvo, idli/dosa/appams are loaded with protein.

While besan is the main ingredient in Gujarati snacks, South Indian snacks are a mix of carbs and proteins. These foods also have a higher nutritive value as they are fermented and steamed before they are served, so they consume less oil and have fewer calories too.

Health Tip: Don’t let the oil loaded tempering (tadka) affect the ‘low calorie’ status of this diet-watcher snack.

Fruit Chaat
This is the healthiest of all in the chaat family tree. A colourful fruit chaat plate is not just a treat for the eyes, but your taste buds are bound to accept it too. This dish provides more benefits than a single fruit and comes packed with a wide variety of nutrients.

Health Tip: Mind your portion while you savour the flavorful treat.

Vegetable Sandwich
Having salads for more than one meal in the name of healthy foods can turn you into a diet rebel. The same stuff, sprinkled with tangy sauces, chutneys and packed into slices of bread can turn into a yummy snack option. The benefits are better when you opt for whole wheat/multigrain breads.

Health Tip: Go for green chutneys and low-fat dressing. Increase the number of crunchy veggies to keep it healthy.

I’m Nuts About You

Ever thought about the various health benefits a handful of nuts can provide?

Nuts are rich in protein, dietary fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – all of which have great health benefits for the prevention of cardiac disease and Type 2 diabetes. Eating a handful of nuts daily is the perfect replacement for your previous snack, the highly unhealthy combination of chips and soda.

However, some claims have tried to sully the saintly image of nuts by pointing out that they have a high fat content. But research has shown that the fats contained by nuts are considered as ‘good fats’, which do not cause weight gain because their high-calorie value is easily absorbed and metabolised by the body and converted into energy.

Here’s a list of health benefits in some of the commonly used nuts:-

Pistachios:  Helps in weight loss, reduces the risk of diabetes, cancer-protective phenolics, lowers blood pressure, rheumatoid arthritis.

Macadamia Nuts: Lowers cholesterol levels, reduces the risk of diabetes, colon cleansing, anemia support, morning sickness relief.

Brazil nuts: Helps in protection from tumours, reduces blood sugar level, reduces thyroid enlargement, prevents reproductive disorders, lowers risk of pancreatic cancer.

Chestnuts: Improves glycemic control, memory protection, bowel health, anemia support, weight loss.

Hazelnuts: Healthy heart, rheumatoid arthritis support, Alzheimer’s support, cancer protective, diabetes support.

Almonds: Helps with appetite control, weight control, bone health, memory booster, biotin source.

Walnuts: Packed with Omega-3 Fatty Acids, reduces the risk of diabetes, boosts heart health, helps deal with stress, reduced risk of breast cancer.

Coconut: Breast cancer protective, weight loss, reduces Alzheimer’s risk, eczema and acne treatment.

Pecans:  Rich source of energy, protects the body from infections, source of vitamin E, reduces coronary artery disease risk, rich source of minerals.

Cashew nuts: Cancer protective, healthy heart, lowers high blood pressure, lowers gallstone risk, helps digestion.

 

Whether they’re toasted or you’re eating them raw, whether it’s almond milk or almond flour, nuts of all different shapes and sizes can help you lead a fuller and healthier life. So, go nuts today!

Sugar Craving: An Unhealthy Cycle

Have you ever spent a single day without having sugar or ended the day with a goal to curb sugar intake from the next day?

Sugar cravings are common, they happen to everybody. Who wouldn’t like to indulge in a delicious looking dessert your friend or colleague has brought to work? In fact, desserts are a part of our meals everywhere, almost every day.

We may go to the store with the intention of buying really healthy food or grocery items but get lured by chocolates, sugary cereals, ready dessert mixes, and other sweet treats.

Although sugar is made up of empty calories, it is essential for the body in small quantities. Our brain needs a direct source of glucose to function, which in turn, provides quick energy. But, did you know that sugar cravings create a vicious cycle which is difficult to escape?

The Villainous Craving for Sugar
The hormone insulin, released by the pancreas, acts on the glucose molecules to deliver it to the muscles for storage. When this storage is full, it’s sent to the fat cells. Higher consumption pushes the pancreas to pump insulin, which leads to fat storage.

Excess consumption of sugar causes spikes in insulin, leading to insulin resistance. This also affects the satiety hormone leptin. Leptin signals the brain about the body’s satisfaction level and that there’s no more need for food. In leptin resistance, the body feels starved and sends hunger signals, that make you want to eat more, even though you’ve had a sufficient amount of food.

This is where the vicious cycle occurs. Sugar is addictive and the more you have it, the more you crave it. It is difficult to get rid of sugar cravings, but definitely not impossible.

Sugar Cravings and Its Triggers
Sugar cravings also happen when there is a lack of sleep or too much stress. It might also mean that there is a hormonal imbalance in the body.

Sugar cravings are due to a sign of lack of certain nutrients, especially fibre. Ever noticed that fruits do not create the same kind of cravings that sugar does? This happens because fruits contain a good amount of fibre that balances the blood sugar levels.

On the contrary, when it comes to sugar it’s hard to stop at one portion of dessert – it sometimes feels like the more you have, the more you crave. What desserts contain in addition, are carbohydrates and different forms of sugars like high-fructose corn syrup which are known to suppress the satiety and hunger hormones leptin and ghrelin.

The Way Out
It is important to have control over sugar consumption rather than be a slave to it. A good sleep of 6-8 hours, adequate water intake, low-stress levels, exercise, and eating balanced meals help in curbing sugar cravings.

Exercise is also key to release happy hormones and acts as a mood elevator. Once this lifestyle is in place, it’ll be easy to punch that sugar craving away.

Sweet Solutions: The Best Sugar Substitutes

The average adult adds around 400 calories a day from consuming added sugars. And, while the consumption of refined sugar is on the rise, so is the consumption of artificial sweeteners. The benefits of artificial sweeteners have been debated for years with regards to their damaging side effects to the body.

Side effects from artificial sweeteners range from headaches and migraines to shrunken thymus glands, impairment of liver and kidney function, and mood disorders. Refined sugar is unhealthy, too. Side effects of refined sugars include diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, heart disease, certain types of cancer, and even poor cognitive functioning.

Fortunately, there are natural sweeteners that are healthy and tasty alternatives to refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners.

Replacing the average intake of 130 grams a day of refined sugars with healthy alternatives like the natural sweeteners found in berries and nuts can improve and increase the levels of antioxidants that go into your system via your choice of food.

Top 10 Natural Sweeteners

Raw Honey: It’s a true superfood packed with enzymes, antioxidants, iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and niacin. Together, these essential nutrients help to neutralize free radicals, while promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the digestive tract.

One tablespoon of raw honey has 64 calories and has less impact on glycaemic load than a single banana. Look for local raw honey at farmers markets or source it directly from local beekeepers. The darker the honey, the richer the flavour and greater the health benefits.

How to use Raw Honey: Don’t ever cook with raw honey. Drizzle it on breakfast cereals, over your sprouted grain toast, on yogurt and for salad dressings.

Stevia: Stevia is native to South America and has been used for hundreds of years in that region to support healthy blood sugar levels and help in weight loss. Today, stevioside, the element in the leaves that makes it more than 200 times as sweet as sugar, is available in liquid drops, packets, dissolvable tablets and baking blends. It has zero calories, zero carbohydrates and none of the nasty side effects of artificial sweeteners, making it an ideal natural sweetener.

How to use Stevia: Unlike raw honey, stevia is heat stable, so feel free to use it in any way you desire. Remember, it’s 200 times sweeter than sugar, so don’t use it in the same ratio.

Dates: Dates are loaded with potassium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Harvested from the date palm tree, they are easily digested and help to metabolize proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Evidence shows that dates may help to reduce LDL cholesterol in the blood and may reduce the risk of stroke.

How to use dates: The first step is to make a paste. Date paste can be used one-to-one in most recipes, unlike stevia, and it does add bulk for baking.

Coconut Sugar: Most people have heard about the benefits of coconut water, coconut milk, coconut flour, and, of course, fresh coconut. Now, more and more people are using coconut sugar as their natural sweetener of choice because of its low glycaemic load and rich mineral content. It is packed with polyphenols, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium, antioxidants, phosphorous, and other phytonutrients, coconut sugar is versatile and now readily available.

How to use coconut sugar: Use coconut sugar in your favourite recipes. It is a bit coarser than refined sugar, but that is okay. Add the amount of sugar that is called for in a recipe to your food processor and give it a whirl until you get the desired texture.

Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is an outstanding source of manganese, and contains calcium, potassium, and zinc. Rich with antioxidants, this all-natural sweetener helps to neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative damage. Select darker, Grade B maple syrups, as they contain more beneficial antioxidants than the lighter syrups.

How to use maple syrup: Maple syrup is heat stable, so you can use it in virtually any recipe. Add it to marinades, glazes an sauces and use for baking. Use it to sweeten homemade granola and your morning coffee or tea. For a glaze for cookies or cakes, heat until just barely simmering and add the coconut-powdered sugar from above. Stir until smooth; allow cooling to room temperature and then drizzling away!

Blackstrap Molasses: Organic blackstrap molasses is highly nutritious, rich in copper, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, selenium, and vitamin B6. There are several types of molasses, depending on which level of processing it has gone through. All molasses is obtained from raw cane sugar, made by boiling it until its rich sweet syrup. Blackstrap molasses comes from the third boiling, concentrating its nutrients and providing for its deep rich flavour.

How to use blackstrap molasses: Molasses has a unique, rich flavour. It may not be appealing for some to use for topping toast, porridges or other concentrated applications. However, it’s a perfect sweetener for marinades and to use in baking.

Balsamic Glaze: Balsamic vinegar is rich in antioxidants that destroy free radicals, it’s rich in the enzyme pepsin that helps to promote healthy digestion, and it tastes great.

How to use Balsamic Glaze: Balsamic glazes are available in natural health food and gourmet stores, but you can also quickly make your own glaze at home.

Banana Puree: Bananas are rich in fibre and potassium, and a good source of vitamins B6 and C. They are also naturally sweet with a subtle flavour, making them a perfect natural sweetener.

How to use banana puree: Overripe bananas are the best to use when replacing refined sugar in recipes. They are sweeter and puree well. For every cup of sugar called for in a recipe, use one cup of banana puree. As bananas brown when exposed to air, use as quickly as possible in recipes. If you are using banana puree in raw preparations, add one teaspoon of fresh lemon juice to the food processor to help retard the oxidation process.

Brown Rice Syrup: Brown rice syrup starts with brown rice that is fermented with enzymes to break down the starch. The liquid is then heated until the syrup consistency is achieved.

How to use brown rice syrup: Brown rice syrup is the perfect replacement in recipes that call for corn syrup. Use a 1:1 ratio. To replace regularly processed white sugar, use one cup for each cup of sugar called for and decrease liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup.

Real Fruit Jam: The key here is real fruit jam. Berries, stone fruit, apples, pears, and grapes are all great replacements for sugar in recipes. You can use commercially available fruit jam; just ensure there is no added sugar or pectin. It’s better to make your own sugar-free jam with organic fresh or frozen fruit.

How to use real fruit jam: Replace sugar in recipes at a 1:1 ratio, decreasing the liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup. Or, for recipes that don’t have added liquids, you can add a tablespoon of coconut flour to thicken the recipe as desired. To make your own fresh jam, combine four cups of your favourite fruit or berry in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer until fruit has broken down and has started to thicken. Puree in a food processor and use immediately.

 

Living healthy doesn’t mean you have to give up sweets entirely; it just requires a little creativity when replacing unhealthy refined sugar and artificial sweeteners with these sweet sources of natural sugar.