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Eat, Drink and Be Healthy:
Do You Have The Sugar Blues?
By Mariama J. Jeihani - Murungi

Editor's Note: GeoClan welcomes back Mariama J. Jeihani - Murungi. One of our original contributors, Mrs. Jeihani - Murungi will share her health advice on a regular basis and her content will make you want to take a step towards changing your lifestyle. 

"Welcome to Sweetsville, USA!" It is amazing how so many people are addicted to sugar. You have those that eat bread like it is about to go out of style; some that have to have cheese on everything, or ice cream every night after dinner; and others that will eat candy bar after candy bar because they feel that they do not have time to sit and have a meal. With these types of habits it is no wonder why this society has some of the highest records of Diabetes, High Blood Pressure/Heart Disease, and Mental Imbalances in history. But these statistics do not even scare us into change, because no matter how hard we try to kick the habit, it breaks you all the way down to the point to where you feel you have no other choice than to consume the thing that haunts you.

 

Whenever we talk about these lifestyle changes that we are on, we most certainly ran into predicaments that force us to chose one for the other. Now I do understand that ice cream is your favorite summer treat, but is it really a must everyday? There are so many others savory and more refreshing desserts that give you the same satisfaction. It may require some experimentation and thinking "outside of the box," but in the end you'll be a lot happier that you took that time out for your betterment.

 

Many of us do not recognize sugar as an addictive substance. We are guided by the USDA Food Pyramid/Standard American Diet (SAD) which says that it is OK to have some sweets sparingly, yet blinded by the fact that you can find sugar in almost EVERYTHING , even products that do not usually contain sugar like bread, canned vegetables, tomato sauce, and baby food. You never see sugar outright on the label, but I can guarantee that you have read: Maltose, Corn Syrup (or High Fructose Corn Syrup), Dextrose, or Glucose, which are merely synthetic versions of the sweetness that occurs naturally in food. Also, the first qualifier of sugar as an addictive substance is that even a small amount creates a stronger desire for more. Consider this bit of history: The first sugar refinery opened in 1869 and within ten years, personal consumption rose to four pounds a year. Today that number is currently estimated at more than 150 pounds a year! So if you are eating it all the time, it is understandable why we are always craving it.

 

When you decide what you are going to eat for the day, do you consider what effects that choice will have on your system? Sugary foods attack the blood the quickest, and then the blood becomes a carrier and affects the rest of the body. With such a high concentration, the body may not produce enough insulin from the pancreas to properly assimilate the food into nutrients that will be dispersed elsewhere in the body via the blood. So most of the nourishment will be lost and the body will lack the necessary fuel to complete its particular functions. What is left? -waste, and its exit is not an easy one because the body's capability is low. So the bowels get backed up because the intestinal tract cannot push waste through. Filtration of the toxins through the liver is not happening since the liver was not properly fed to perform and its pathway is blocked with the older wastes that have not yet passed through the intestines; therefore dirty blood is re-circulation in the body. Since sugars leave the body through the urinary tract, the constant urge to urinate over-stimulates the kidneys. With the adrenal glands right on top of the kidneys, that sugar causes the adrenals to give the body a jolt of energy which will in turn overworks the heart since it then has to pump faster to distribute blood to the rest of the body to accommodate the extra force. And this is just the beginning. Over time, this same routine on a daily basis will break down these organs and manifest into the diseases that plague our community today.  

 

Living the SAD lifestyle not only does harm to the body, it can drive one's mental state into the ground. At first, the sweetness will boost the blood sugar level to maintain body functioning only to drop it down drastically afterwards. Just like your blood level, your emotions travel on the same pattern. While you are on the high, you might seem friendlier and easier to relate to. As soon as the sugar levels start getting low, you go through withdrawal symptoms like cravings, headaches, fatigue, and extreme mood swings, similar to those a person engaging in addictive activity would display. After a while the myelin sheath, that keeps the nerves intact, gets worn down and you become a walking volcano waiting to erupt. Needless to say you are not a fun person to be around.

 

We cannot talk about sugar and not talk about other forms of sweetness in life; the kind you cannot purchase in the store. That includes Love, Joy, Excitement, and Sex. Relationships are a large part of who we are. They talk about the choices we make in life. We can chose to be with people that will empower us toward true happiness or keep indulging in those that we think make us happy. Good or bad, they show us where we have been and where we are going. With regards to the people in our lives, it really takes a little soul searching to see what will make you enjoy life. If you do not take the time to give yourself the love you deserve, you diminish your spirit and there is no one to be blamed but YOU because only you are in control of your destiny!

 

When was the last time you checked up on yourself? Take an inventory of any of the decisions you've made lately- nutritional, personal or emotional; see what they add up to. If you are shocked by how the choices that bring you down outweigh the ones that empower, then it is time you made some change. Do not beat yourself up and dwell on the situation. It's OK! Just pick yourself up and try again. You have to believe in the power in you that makes you get up everyday. Stop letting your faults keep you from your destiny. Use them as examples of why you have set your standards. It is time to move on with life. You do not have stay in the Sugar Blues .

 

Here are some available natural alternatives, most of which can be found at local health food stores, Whole Foods Markets, and some supermarkets:

 

Brown Rice Syrup

This product consists of brown rice that has been ground, cooked and mixed with enzymes that change the starch into maltose. Brown rice syrup taste like moderately sweet butterscotch and can be quite delicious. In recipes, use a 2:1 ratio of brown rice syrup, while reducing the amount of other liquids. You can also find this product as a dried powder.

 

Date Sugar

Date Sugar is not sugar, but rather finely ground dates containing all of the fruit's nutrients and minerals. If you like the taste of dates, this will definitely appeal to you. Date sugar can be used as a direct replacement for sugar. While quite sweet, date sugar will not result in a sugary taste to dishes. Date sugar will not dissolve in beverage and is best used for baking.

 

Honey

Honey is one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. Honey is sweeter than sugar, with different flavors depending on the plant source. Some honeys are very dark and intensely flavored. Raw honey contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins. When replacing sugar with honey in a recipe, reduce the amounts of other liquids.

 

Maple Syrup

Maple Syrup adds a nice flavor to foods, but is probably not a good idea to replace all sweeteners in a recipe with maple syrup. Make sure you buy 100% pure Maple Syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. Organic varieties are best.

 

Molasses

Organic molasses is probably the most nutritious sweetener derived from sugar cane. Different types of molasses have different flavors, but most of them give a very distinctive taste. Use less molasses than you would sugar.

 

Stevia

Stevia is available in several forms, including powered leaves and liquid concentrates. Refined white powder stevia concentrates can be up to 300 times sweeter than sugar. Powdered leaf and liquid concentrates have a licorice-like taste. The leaf will not dissolve in beverages, so it is best used in cooking. All forms of stevia mix exceptionally well with other sweeteners, but it can impart a bitter taste. If you're not familiar with using stevia, start with a little and taste as you go.

 

Sucanat

Sucanat is a brand name for an organic evaporated cane-juice product that has been blended with organic molasses. Sucanat looks like coarse brown beach sand and has a very mild, brown sugar-like taste. It can be used like white sugar. Sucanat retains more of the vitamins and minerals of the sugar cane.

 

 

Next time you feel the urge to feed that sweet tooth try these recipes and eat them together as a wonderfully balanced meal.

 

 

Squash Soup with Ginger

Serves 4

I know that summer/fall is not the best time for soup, but this soup is quick and filling. You'll want it all year round .

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash (or other squash or root vegetable)

1-2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive

1 large onion, sliced

1 Tablespoon fresh ginger root

Filtered water or vegetable stock

Sea salt

 

Variations: You can experiment with different spices like cinnamon, curry and garam masala according to taste. For heartier soups, add carrots, sweet potatoes, and parsnips.

 

Directions:

Cut, peel and remove seeds from squash; Cut into cubes. Heat oil in a large, deep saucepan or stockpot. Add onions and sauté until transparent. Add squash and enough water or stock to cover. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until squash is soft- about 35 minutes. Blend with an immersion bender, masher or whisk to desired consistency; a regular blender may also be used. Grate ginger into soup, and add sea salt to taste.

 

Benefits:

This soup will warm the body and nurture the soul with fortifying vitamins including iron, potassium and vitamins A & C. The sweetness of the vegetables will help "crowd out" tastes for products made with refined sugars, therefore controlling sugar cravings. Digestion is also benefited and minor constipation can also be relieved with this meal.

 

 

Sautéed Greens

Serves 4

Enjoy this dish alone or mix with salad greens. They also taste great in wraps.

 

Ingredients:

1 large or 2 small bunches of your favorite greens (Dandelion, Collard, Chard, etc.)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1z2 cup yellow onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced (or to taste)

1z2 cup water

Seasonings:

                            Spike (natural all-purpose)

                            Sea salt & pepper

                            Cayenne pepper (use to taste)

 

Variations: Use any of the combinations I mentioned above or use spices that compliment the meal. Mixing different varieties of green adds creative options for your meal planning.

 

Directions:

Wash and cut greens into bite size pieces, separating the leaves from the stems, if needed. Chop the stems into 1z2 in pieces and put aside. Heat the oil in a wide skillet or wok over medium heat. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic, stems and seasonings and cook until stems begin to soften; season lightly at first and adjust taste to compliment greens. Add leaves and water, stirring constantly until greens are tender- about 2-4 minutes. This will give you a finished product that has a brightened color, retains natural crispness, and all essential nutrients are intact. Serve with any meal.

 

Benefits:

Greens are a great source of Vitamin B, Vitamin C, beta-carotene, iron, fiber and other essential nutrients. In some varieties (collards, kale, broccoli and bok choy) there is more calcium in one cup of cooked greens than in one 16oz. glass of pasteurized cow's milk.

 

Please direct your questions to Mariama by clicking here.

 

More Mariama articles

- Eat, Drink & Be Healthy: The Ebbs and Flows of Lifestyle Change

- Sugar Blues

- Finding A Better Calm

- On The Road to Enlightenment

- Natural Healing

- Will The Real Queens Stand Up?

 
Recipes

 

- Squash Soup with Ginger

- Sauteed Greens

 

Options

 

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