Here’s my confession—I eat sugar regularly. I don’t binge, I have never had a problem with weight. I am not obsessed with calories or being on a diet. I don’t follow a ‘strict diet’. I eat sensibly and consume a traditional, whole foods diet.
In my clinical practice, I see so many patients addicted to sugar and dealing with weight problems. Have you been on a low carb, paleo or sugar-free diet and continue to fall off the wagon because of overwhelming sugar cravings? Or have you just plateaued in weight loss? Are you ready to give up? Well, I have good news for you! I’m bringing sugar back.
Eating a traditional diet
A return to sensible, traditional eating is what we all need. We are beyond overdue for this. Diets come and go. Over the years we have seen all the trends: low calorie, low fat, ketogenic, paleo. Scientific studies indicate over and over, that a return to traditional eating, has broad reaching effects on health, and most importantly I would call it SENSIBLE.
We need sugar
Humans are designed to eat sugar. We require glucose for our brain to run, our muscles to function and for every cell in our body to produce energy. That’s why our brain lights up when we consume sugar. The colloquial saying, “too much of a good thing’ is very fitting when it comes to sugar. The problem is overdoing it, just like most everything else in life.
The real cause of obesity
Based on my research and observations over many years and treating thousands of patients, I believe the obesity epidemic is not attributed solely to higher sugar consumption. It is the result of many years of eating a diet devoid of phytonutrients, which are the naturally occurring chemicals found in plant based foods and herbs and teas. An extreme example is fast food. When you look at the typical burger, fries and soda meal, you do get a ton of calories, carbs and saturated fat, but you also have essentially NO healthy plant chemicals.
Phytochemicals, the keys to health
The standard American diet, also called SAD, which is full of processed foods, is another version of starvation, specifically cellular starvation. These foods are stripped of their nutritional value. The DNA inside of every one of our cells responds to the chemicals in your food, both the good chemicals and the bad ones. Pesticides and all the nasty chemicals in our modern food supply can cause DNA damage, while the pigmented, naturally occurring plant chemicals have the ability to enhance how your DNA gets expressed. This affects your metabolism and here’s where you have the ability to influence how your calories get used, through the food choices you make every day.
And this sugar is…
And, this is where we can bring back sugar! Now the key here is not just any sugar, and not copious amounts of it either. It’s a type of sugar filled with phytochemicals and consuming it daily can satisfy your biological need for sugar and reduce indulging in candy, sweets and starchy carbs. More importantly, it can help with maintaining a healthy body weight.
What is this sugar I’m talking about? Your grandmother is probably much more familiar with it than you are. When I tell my patients about it, many of them, ask me where they would even find it. This type of sugar is widely available in most grocery stores not just at health food stores, and it’s not found in the nutritional supplement section. It’s blackstrap molasses (BSM).
BSM is considered a ‘byproduct’ from the process of refining sugar cane into table sugar. Often I find what’s considered ‘kitchen waste’ by many, contains some of the more powerful parts of the plant. For example, most of the cancer fighting chemicals in broccoli are found in the stems, that are discarded by most people. Our grandparents didn’t have the level of food waste we have today. They used it all. They saved the chicken caracas to cook as soup, and it turns out for good reason; the broth has an amazing effect on gut health.
Blackstrap molasses is a part of an elite group, that I call SENSIBLE SUPERFOODS. BSM is rich in polyphenols which have powerful effects on our DNA. These compounds have the ability to increase gene expression for several liver and fat cell biomarkers of energy metabolism thereby impacting how we use calories. But even more interesting, is that BSM reduces the number of calories we absorb, serving double duty.
What can you expect when you add blackstrap molasses to your daily diet? An animal study looked at two groups, both fed the same high fat diet, but one supplemented with molasses. At the end of 12 weeks, the molasses group had a lower body weight, decreased fat mass and lower levels of a hormone called leptin that impacts fat metabolism. This is a simple study that discounts the calorie theory and sugar-free diets, while lending support to a return to sensible, traditional eating. Molasses contains 4g of sugar per teaspoon, the same amount as table sugar, but it has a lower glycemic index and it contains all the goodness from the whole sugar cane that was stripped away from the table sugar. This is what makes it a superior fuel source.
Adding BSM to your diet
You can take BSM right off the spoon after a meal, like lunch. This helps combat afternoon sugar-seeking when you would end up eating way more sugar than 4 grams, and it helps with evening bingeing. You could use it in your coffee or tea, which are also sensible superfoods. Or it can be used as a healthy alternative sweetener in baking.