Sugar is found in so many of the foods found in our grocery stores and even natural food stores. Added to food primarily as refined cane sugar (including brown sugars) and high-fructose corn syrup (one of the new leaders of sugar consumption), which is very inexpensive. Sugar cane, when grown organically, pressed, and dried, creates pure, unprocessed living sugar. You can purchase this in health food stores. It is a healthier choice than refined sugar. White table sugar, however, is grown with toxic pesticides, and chemicals, and then processed, stripping sugar of all its nutritional value. It is then heated, destroying any living vitality that it had. Foods that are high in sugars should be used only as occasional ‘treats’ in the diet, not as a main component of our food consumption. See more about white processed sugar in Chapter 6 of the Natural Cures book.

Traditional Chinese Medicine views the desire for sugar, or the sweet flavor, as a craving for the mother (yin) energy; a craving that represents a need for comfort or security. In Western cultures, we have turned sugar into a reward system to the degree that many of us have been conditioned to need some sweet treat to feel complete or satisfied. For most of us, sugar is a symbol of love and nurturance.

As infants, our first food is lactose, or milk sugar. Over-consumption and daily use of sugar is the first compulsive habit for most everyone with addictions later in life. Simple sugar, or glucose, is what our body, our cells and brain, use for fuel for energy. Some glucose is stored in our liver and muscle tissues as glycogen for future use; excess sugar is stored as fat for use during periods of low-calorie intake or starvation. If we don’t exercise or take periods of low-calorie intake, the fat never disappears.

White sugar is a product that has such powerful adverse effects on the body it could be classified as a drug, and treated as such. If you are ‘hooked,’ make a clear plan for withdrawal, while working emotionally to eliminate the habit. Our responses to certain flavors, and the feelings we get from them, are usually conditioned habits that we have gotten used to. If you do crave sugar, there are specific supplements that can help curb cravings as well as help the body to better metabolize sugars, which will also help reduce sweets cravings. Most alternative practitioners can give you supplement suggestions, though the classic ones used are as follows: B vitamins, vitamin C, calcium and magnesium. Chromium helps our body utilize the sugars more efficiently, and is best used in the morning and at about 3:00 pm. Also, the amino acid, L-glutamine, taken 2-3 times per day helps to feed the brain and reduce sugar (and alcohol) cravings. Follow suggested dosage found on the side of the bottle.

You can also try another of the numerous sugar alternatives mentioned in last week’s “Tip,” Stevia, which is known as the “sweetest substance on Earth.” A member of the Chrysanthemum family, it is native to Paraguay, and has been used for over 1500 years by the native Guarani Indians. Since the 1970s, Japan has subjected stevia extract to extensive safety testing and has found it to be without health risks. They now incorporate it in numerous food products including candies, soft drinks, ice cream, gum, and a large multitude of products. As a sugar substitute, it is available as a concentrated liquid, crushed leaf, or concentrated white powder. It contains natural compounds – specifically, stevioside and rebaudioside A, that are estimated to be 150 to 400 times sweeter than sugar. Stevia sweetens without calories; tastes sweeter than honey; yet, is about as fattening as water.

Studies show that when added to your diet on a regular basis, stevia has been reported to provide: pancreas nourishment, blood sugar regulation, making it not only safe for diabetics but also beneficial, stabilization of high blood pressure decreasing hypertension, digestive aid, minimization of hunger sensations, cravings for sweets or fatty foods, shorter recovery time from cold and flu, and other ailments. Stevia may be used in cooking and baking as a natural sweetener, and children may enjoy dessert recipes without the risk of weight gain, tooth decay or hyperactivity. To convert from sugar to stevia in your recipes, the following ratio is recommended: To replace 1 cup sugar, use 1/2 teaspoon Stevia powdered extract, or, 1 teaspoon Stevia liquid concentrate; for 1 tablespoon sugar, use 1/32 teaspoon extract or 6-9 drops liquid concentrate. For a wonderful and refreshing drink, try lemonade with no sugar rush, calories or negative health effects; just add 1 cup of lemon concentrate (or freshly squeezed lemon juice) to 2 quarts/liters water, add 50 drops of liquid stevia or 1/2 tsp. of powder concentrate (equal to 1 cup refined sugar!!), stir, refrigerate, and enjoy the best tasting calorie free lemonade you’ve ever had, loaded with healthy enhancing Vitamin C, and the blood sugar stabilizing all natural herb, stevia.

Although still not approved for use in the United States as a commercial food additive by the FDA, stevia is available in health food stores for personal use as a sweetener and as a dietary supplement. Give stevia a try (or, one of the other sugar alternatives), and you may find that life is about to get a whole lot sweeter!