Sugar not so sweet for your health



by Marion Thornley


Yoga to boost the brain One of the first tools of living a yogic lifestyle is to treat the body with respect, and of course this involves eating a healthy diet. After all, “we are what we eat”.

I have always been aware of the importance of a good diet – most of us these days read articles and watch TV programmes which inform us on which foods are beneficial and which are not. But it was only when I was chatting to my daughter in London recently about her decision to remove refined sugar from her diet that I really woke up to the damaging effects of this foodstuff. Back in France, I looked at various websites which all told the same story: refined sugar has many unpleasant effects on both the body and the mind, to a quite shocking extent.

The website lists 146 ways in which sugar is bad for you, amongst which are:

☛ sugar promotes cancerous cells
☛ there are links between sugar intake and unhealthy levels of blood fats
☛ sugar interferes with the body’s ability to take up essential minerals
☛ sugar weakens eyesight
☛ sugar causes premature ageing
☛ sugar can cause heart disease

Although my husband and I have never included a great deal of refined sugar in our diet, I have also been aware for some time that, since living in France, I drink more alcohol than is good for me. Alcohol, of course, is also very high in sugar.

I decided to follow my daughter’s example and try to remove refined sugar from my diet for at least a month, and then to decide whether or not to allow small amounts back into my diet. Many people who embark on this regime experience headaches and other “withdrawal symptoms”. Probably because sugar did not feature much in my diet anyway, I have not experienced any of these problems. I did find the alcohol part of it very difficult to start with, especially as my husband was drinking a glass of red with our evening meal. But I persisted, and a month later, I am finding that I do not crave the wine at all. Occasional cravings for something sweet can be satisfied with some dates or fruit.

I have found the experience very interesting; in fact, I have been quite shocked at how many processed foods contain sugar. Luckily, we eat mainly fresh food, but to remove sugar completely from my diet I have had to cut out branston pickle, marmalade, and honey. The latter was also a shock. I had previously entertained some vague idea that as honey is produced naturally by bees, it is a more healthy option than sugar. However, honey is a simple sugar, and as such, has the same effect on the body. Sugar can also be found in pasta sauces, salad dressing, and even garlic bread!

The conclusions of my experiment? I have to say that my body feels more healthy in a rather indefinable way, and I have started to lose some of those extra pounds I have gained since living here. I definitely do not want to go back to having any foods that contain refined sugar, but I might treat myself to a glass of wine every now and then!

Marian qualified as a teacher of yoga and Vedic Chant with the Krishnamacharya Healing and Yoga Foundation, she teaches in the UK and in France, and proceeds from classes go  to charity. To find out more


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