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Plant-based carbs will provide longer lasting energy that doesn’t overtax your pancreas and other players affected by glucose levels.
Energy drinks and sugary snacks may be louder, sweeter, and faster-acting than natural sources of sugar, but rarely are those benefits conferred without some form of reckoning down the road.
Sure enough, research findings seem to affirm another ugly consequence of excess sugar consumption every day.
It’s the way in which these sugary items are processed, packaged, and presented that affects public health, not the sugar itself.
The more you learn about the difference between good and bad sugars, the consequences of regular refined sugar consumption, and how to supplement properly, the better equipped you will be to find that perfect balance between feeling sluggish and jittery.
Good Sugar vs Bad Sugar
Sugars are just simple carbohydrates; in the proper context, they are a macronutrient vital for our survival.
Down to the cellular level, glucose is used as our primary fuel source—make no mistake, we actually can’t live without this end-product of carbohydrate metabolism.
On a molecular level, processed sugars and natural sugars are very similar, which begs the question, why is the former so bad for you while the latter isn’t?
For starters, consider the following factors:
- Sugar-to-calories ratio.
- Sugar-to-nutrients ratio.
- Lack of fiber is especially harmful (more on that later).
In the case of processed sugars, all three of these factors contribute to more intense blood sugar spikes, dental decay, and a litany of additional consequences that can be avoided by opting for naturally derived sources of sugar.
The human body has mechanisms in place to fend off the occasional sugar spike without major issue, but when spikes and crashes become a daily occurrence, trouble follows shortly behind.
The Perils of the Spike-Crash Cycle
Like driving a car with a bum alternator, filling up on sugar/energy drinks will have you shutting down at the worst possible time and then lurching forward again, day in and day out.
This all-too-common cycle of jittery sugar highs followed by crashes wreaks havoc on the human body in many ways, including the following problems.
The pancreas releases insulin, which helps to curb blood glucose levels in the event of a spike.
Consuming too much sugar at one time taxes this commonly overworked organ, which can then become inflamed (pancreatitis), overactive, and eventually, stop working altogether, which wreaks even more havoc on blood glucose levels.
Excessive sugar intake promotes inflammation throughout the body, which in turn can lead to many serious diseases.
According to a systematic review on the effects of sugar on inflammation by the University of Paderborn in Germany, “chronic, low-grade inflammation is a key factor in the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease.”
The exact mechanisms by which sugar intake increases heart disease risk is still being investigated, but it is thought to involve a downward spiral of liver failure, obesity, and diabetes as well, all playing off of each other.
Normally, the interchangeable terms “insulin resistance” and “metabolic syndrome” are associated with weight gain and increased diabetes/heart disease risk, but this study from UCLA’s Department of Integrative Biology and Physiology reveals some troubling implications in the area of brain health as well.
Insulin signals cells to take in more glucose by way of vasodilation, so when brain cells become resistant to it because of excess sugar consumption, the study found, cells within the brain cannot communicate with each other efficiently.
Sugar’s connection to weight gain is not a Nobel-worthy revelation, but did you know that excess sugar actually tampers with your metabolism?
According to a study from the University of California’s Department of Molecular Biosciences, consuming excess sugar can directly and indirectly contribute to metabolic syndrome (high blood pressure, weight gain, and increased risk of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease).
Directly, fructose squanders the body’s ability to break down fats and carbohydrates.
Indirectly, per the study, sugar promotes “positive energy balance,” i.e., a calorie surplus, which are two diplomatic terms for getting fat.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the real rub: Imbibing carelessly concocted energy drinks and raising your risk factors for these harmful conditions isn’t even traded off for superior performance in the end.
Since refined sugar leaves you feeling hungry, and since it causes dramatic spikes and drops in blood sugar, you’ll always be trying to resupply between actual meals.
The body needs macronutrients like protein and fat to feel full, and by replacing those with sugar, the human body is locking itself into the spike-crash cycle, always craving more sugar instead of getting the nutrients it needs.
The solution is to seek out plant-based sources of slow-digesting, healthy sugars.
You get the nutrients you need, your body has enough energy to last between meals, and your blood glucose levels will remain at much healthier levels throughout the day.
Plant-Based Sugars: The Slow Burn
Nutritional density and fiber are two key differentiators between healthy, plant-based sugars and processed snacks.
The following nutrient-dense carbohydrate sources will provide long-lasting energy without artificially jolting the body into a jittery state:
- Whole Grains
Fiber is a crucial element here; soluble fiber slows down the body’s absorption of sugars, in turn flattening harmful blood sugar spikes.
Even naturally flavored energy drinks and candy bars don’t contain fiber, which is found in leaves, stems, stalks, etc., meaning you get a straight shot of sugar without this natural “chaser.”
These foods are also rich in micronutrients like vitamin E, vitamin B, etc., where most sugary snacks are not.
Supplement Recommendation: Beet Root Powder by Hi-Health
Swapping out unhealthy sources of sugar for naturally occurring sugars can be taxing, which is why smart supplementation can make the difference between a successful campaign and “yo-yo dieting.”
For example, high-quality energy boosters like Hi-Health’s Tibet Mountain Botanicals Beet Root Powder provide more than long-lasting energy–they provide vital nutrients like potassium, magnesium, and more.
Plus, thanks to this Beet Root Powder’s natural flavoring, you can easily and affordably access this boost without suffering through a bitter flavor or chalky texture.
Tibet Mountain Botanicals Beet Root Powder
Organic Beet Root Powder supplement loaded with antioxidants and other health-affirming nutrients.
Organic Beet Root Powder (Beta vulgaris), Guar Gum, Citric Acid Anhydrous, Natural Black Cherry Flavor, Rebaudioside-A, Silicon Dioxide.
To determine whether a sugar is healthy or not, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is this food a fruit, vegetable, legume, or nut?
- Does this source of sugar contain fiber and/or other minerals?
Even if you’re “cheating” with some candy or another form of refined sugar, you can still use fibrous foods to lessen the harmful blood sugar spike.
Finally, energy and focus supplements are an excellent way to stay energized throughout the day without feeling jittery.