Tagged: stevia

Why we Need to Monitor Our Sugar Intake More Than Ever

It’s not new news that rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease have sky rocketed over the past decade or so. Mounds of research exists that highlights the link between sugar intake and various health conditions. As a result of that research, the University of California launched a website in 2014 called SugarScience.org to raise awareness about the harm of sugar. Their work references more than 8,000 research papers on the subject.

Sugar consumption in the United States has been steadily increasing. The World Health Organization cites a study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, that indicates that most U.S. adults consume about 22 teaspoons of added sugars a day. The American Heart Association recommends:

  • No more than 6 teaspoons or 100 calories (24 g) a day of sugar for women
  • No more than 9 teaspoons or 150 calories (36 g) a day for men

A study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 revealed that 71.4 per cent of adults in the United States attribute more than the recommended 10 per cent of their daily calories to added sugars in foods and drinks.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization released a new guideline that recommends “adults and children reduce their daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of their total energy intake.”

“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay” – Dr Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development

The recommendation is based on scientific evidence that demonstrates that 1) adults that consume less sugars have lower body weight and 2) that increasing the sugars in our diet is linked to an increase weight and increased rates of tooth decay.

Be aware of different forms of sugar

To put the WHO’s recommendation in effect, we must be aware of different types of sugar. Often when we think of sugar, we think of refined white sugar in cubes or paper packages. Today sugar dominates a lot of foods that we eat daily, so we need to alter our thinking to encompass a broader definition of what sugar is.

According to the American Heart Foundation, there are two types of sugars; naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.

Naturally occurring sugars are naturally present in foods such as fruit (fructose) and milk (lactose). They are complex carbohydrates that consist of longer chains of molecules. These are starches and fibers. Commonly found in whole plant foods, complex carbohydrates include green vegetables, whole grains, such as pasta, oatmeal and whole grain bread, starch-rich vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin and corn & beans and lentils.

Added sugars encompass any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation (including adding white sugar, brown sugar, honey to your coffee or your cereal). Added sugars can typically be found in many foods, such as maple syrup, pop and candy. These are the quickest source of energy, as they are rapidly digestible. If you’re engaging in a sport that requires short bursts of energy (e.g. sprinting), eating a piece of candy prior to the race will give you the boost you need.

Carbohydrates are a great source of fuel but if we don’t use them, they are converted to glucose and then stored in our body as fat. Over time, this can put your health at risk and lead to numerous diseases, including diabetes.

How do I know if a product contains added sugars?

Carefully read the ingredient list on labels of processed foods to determine whether added sugars are present. Names for added sugars include high-fructose  corn syrup, corn sweetener, agave syrup and sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose). The American Heart Association offers a longer list.

Be aware that foods high in added sugar typically do not contain nutrients your body is craving and only extra calories. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, fiber-rich whole grains, fish, poultry, lean meats and dairy products to nourish your body with nutrients. The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada suggests some great ways to reduce sugar consumption, including:

– Using fresh, staple foods to prepare meals
– Limiting eating out and consumption of pre-prepared food and drinks
– Purchasing foods at grocery stores and markets that offer an array of fresh produce
– Choosing fresh or frozen fruit instead of canned fruit in water
– Satisfying thirst with water, instead of sugar-loaded beverages such as pop and sports drinks.


A natural alternative to sugar

As obesity is now a major public health issue associated with sugar consumption, substituting some sugar in our diets with a low-calorie sweetener is believed to aid weight management. According to a book The Gravity of Weight produced by two doctors, Stevia is a natural alternative to sugar and is roughly 200-300 times sweeter than table sugar (sucrose). Growing in Paraguay and Brazil and used for centuries in South America, Stevia is extracted from the leaves of Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni plant.

If you’re sourcing Stevia from stores, we recommend keeping your eyes peeled for the concentrated liquid form.  Clear Stevia extract is packaged in a 2 oz glass bottle with a dropper cap for easy use for your tea or coffee. If you prefer Stevia powder, the recommended serving is one quarter to three quarters of a teaspoon.

60 Minutes coverage featuring Dr. Lustig

Dr. Lustig of the University of California believes that 75% of diseases derived from excess sugar consumption are preventable. This video explains why we have a collective sweet tooth. 

Feature image credit: Samantha Celera

76 Reasons to Avoid Consuming Whtie Sugar

Here is a fun post full of great facts on why you should NOT consume refined white sugar. These scientifically documented reasons
to avoid sugar were originally written in a book by Nancy Appleton, PhD.,
titled Lick the Sugar Habit. 

Here at Zebra Organics we have many healthy natural alternative to white sugar.  

Of particular interest are Coconut Sugar and Stevia, Coconut sugar is a low glycemic index food, coming in at 35 points. And stevia comes in at 0 on the glycemic index. So if you are interested in transitioning away from white sugar consider Coconut sugar and/or stevia.

76 Reasons to AVOID consuming white sugar.

1. Sugar can suppress your immune system and impair your defenses against infectious disease.  1,2
2. Sugar upsets the mineral relationships in your body: causes chromium
and copper deficiencies and interferes with absorption of calcium and
magnesium.  3,4,5,6
3. Sugar can cause can cause a rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity,
anxiety, difficulty concentrating, and crankiness in children.  7,8
4. Sugar can produce a significant rise in total cholesterol,
triglycerides and bad cholesterol and a decrease in good cholesterol. 
5. Sugar causes a loss of tissue elasticity and function.  13
6. Sugar feeds cancer cells and has been connected with the development
of cancer of the breast, ovaries, prostate, rectum, pancreas, biliary
tract, lung, gallbladder and stomach.  14,15,16,17,18,19,20
7. Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia.  21,22
8. Sugar can weaken eyesight.  23
9. Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract
including: an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, malabsorption in
patients with functional bowel disease, increased risk of Crohn’s
disease, and ulcerative colitis.  24,25,26,27,28
10. Sugar can cause premature aging.  29
11. Sugar can lead to alcoholism.  30
12. Sugar can cause your saliva to become acidic, tooth decay, and periodontal disease.  31,32,33
13. Sugar contributes to obesity.  34
14. Sugar can cause autoimmune diseases such as: arthritis, asthma, multiple sclerosis.  35,36,37
15. Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)  38
16. Sugar can cause gallstones.  39
17. Sugar can cause appendicitis.  40
18. Sugar can cause hemorrhoids.  41
19. Sugar can cause varicose veins.  42
20. Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraceptive users.  43
21. Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.  44
22. Sugar can cause a decrease in your insulin sensitivity thereby
causing an abnormally high insulin levels and eventually diabetes. 
23. Sugar can lower your Vitamin E levels.  48
24. Sugar can increase your systolic blood pressure.  49
25. Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreased activity in children.  50
26. High sugar intake increases advanced glycation end products
(AGEs)(Sugar molecules attaching to and thereby damaging proteins in the
body).  51
27. Sugar can interfere with your absorption of protein.  52
28. Sugar causes food allergies.  53
29. Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.  54
30. Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.  55
31. Sugar can cause atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.  56,57
32. Sugar can impair the structure of your DNA.  58
33. Sugar can change the structure of protein and cause a permanent alteration of the way the proteins act in your body.  59,60
34. Sugar can make your skin age by changing the structure of collagen.  61
35. Sugar can cause cataracts and nearsightedness.  62,63
36. Sugar can cause emphysema.  64
37. High sugar intake can impair the physiological homeostasis of many systems in your body.  65
38. Sugar lowers the ability of enzymes to function.  66
39. Sugar intake is higher in people with Parkinson’s disease.  67
40. Sugar can increase the size of your liver by making your liver cells
divide and it can increase the amount of liver fat.  68,69
41. Sugar can increase kidney size and produce pathological changes in the kidney such as the formation of kidney stones.  70,71
42. Sugar can damage your pancreas.  72
43. Sugar can increase your body’s fluid retention.  73
44. Sugar is enemy #1 of your bowel movement.  74
45. Sugar can compromise the lining of your capillaries.  75
46. Sugar can make your tendons more brittle.  76
47. Sugar can cause headaches, including migraines.  77
48. Sugar can reduce the learning capacity, adversely affect school children’s grades and cause learning disorders.  78,79
49. Sugar can cause an increase in delta, alpha, and theta brain waves which can alter your mind’s ability to think clearly.  80
50. Sugar can cause depression.  81
51. Sugar can increase your risk of gout.  82
52. Sugar can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s disease.  83
53. Sugar can cause hormonal imbalances such as: increasing estrogen in
men, exacerbating PMS, and decreasing growth hormone.  84,85,86,87
54. Sugar can lead to dizziness.  88
55. Diets high in sugar will increase free radicals and oxidative stress.  89
56. High sucrose diets of subjects with peripheral vascular disease significantly increases platelet adhesion.  90
57. High sugar consumption of pregnant adolescents can lead to
substantial decrease in gestation duration and is associated with a
twofold increased risk for delivering a small-for-gestational-age (SGA)
infant.  91,92
58. Sugar is an addictive substance.  93
59. Sugar can be intoxicating, similar to alcohol.  94
60. Sugar given to premature babies can affect the amount of carbon dioxide they produce.  95
61. Decrease in sugar intake can increase emotional stability.  96
62. Your body changes sugar into 2 to 5 times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch.  97
63. The rapid absorption of sugar promotes excessive food intake in obese subjects.  98
64. Sugar can worsen the symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).  99
65. Sugar adversely affects urinary electrolyte composition.  100
66. Sugar can slow down the ability of your adrenal glands to function.  101
67. Sugar has the potential of inducing abnormal metabolic processes in a
normal healthy individual and to promote chronic degenerative
diseases.  102
68. I.V.s (intravenous feedings) of sugar water can cut off oxygen to your brain.  103
69. Sugar increases your risk of polio.  104
70. High sugar intake can cause epileptic seizures.  105
71. Sugar causes high blood pressure in obese people.  106
72. In intensive care units: Limiting sugar saves lives.  107
73. Sugar may induce cell death.  108
74. In juvenile rehabilitation camps, when children were put on a low
sugar diet, there was a 44 percent drop in antisocial behavior.  109
75. Sugar dehydrates newborns.  110
76. Sugar can cause gum disease.  111

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41. Ibid.
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48. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. Aug 2000
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50. Behar, D., et al. Sugar Challenge Testing with Children Considered
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51. Furth, A. and Harding, J. Why Sugar Is Bad For You. New Scientist. Sep 23, 1989;44.
52. Simmons, J. Is The Sand of Time Sugar? LONGEVITY. June 1990:00:00 49_53.
53. Appleton, N. New York: LICK THE SUGAR HABIT. Avery Penguin Putnam:1988. allergies
54. Cleave, T. The Saccharine Disease: (New Canaan Ct: Keats Publishing, Inc., 1974).131.
55. Ibid. 132
56. Pamplona, R., et al. Mechanisms of Glycation in Atherogenesis. Medical Hypotheses . 1990:00:00 174_181.
57. Vaccaro O., Ruth, K. J. and Stamler J. Relationship of Postload
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Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease, but Not Fasting Glucose.
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58. Lee, A. T. and Cerami, A. Modifications of Proteins and Nucleic
Acids by Reducing Sugars: Possible Role in Aging. Handbook of the
Biology of Aging. (New York: Academic Press, 1990.).
59. Monnier, V. M. Nonenzymatic Glycosylation, the Maillard Reaction and
the Aging Process. Journal of Gerontology 1990:45(4):105_110.
60. Cerami, A., Vlassara, H., and Brownlee, M. Glucose and Aging. Scientific American. May 1987:00:00 90
61. Dyer, D. G., et al. Accumulation of Maillard Reaction Products in
Skin Collagen in Diabetes and Aging. Journal of Clinical Investigation.
62. Veromann, S.et al.”Dietary Sugar and Salt Represent Real Risk
Factors for Cataract Development.” Ophthalmologica. 2003
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the Aging Process. Journal of Gerontology. 1990:45(4):105_110.
65. Ceriello, A. Oxidative Stress and Glycemic Regulation. Metabolism. Feb 2000;49(2 Suppl 1):27-29.
66. Appleton, Nancy. New York; Lick the Sugar Habit. Avery Penguin Putnam, 1988 enzymes
67. Hellenbrand, W. Diet and Parkinson’s Disease. A Possible Role for
the Past Intake of Specific Nutrients. Results from a Self-administered
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68. Goulart, F. S. Are You Sugar Smart? American Fitness. March_April 1991:00:00 34_38.
69. Ibid.
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71. Blacklock, N. J., Sucrose and Idiopathic Renal Stone. Nutrition and
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Kidney Stones in Women. Annals of Internal Medicine. 1998:28:534-340.
72. Goulart, F. S. Are You Sugar Smart? American Fitness. March_April 1991:00:00 34_38. Milwakuee, WI,:
73. Ibid. fluid retention
74. Ibid. bowel movement
75. Ibid. compromise the lining of the capillaries
76. Nash, J. Health Contenders. Essence. Jan 1992; 23:00 79_81.
77. Grand, E. Food Allergies and Migraine.Lancet. 1979:1:955_959.
78. Schauss, A. Diet, Crime and Delinquency. (Berkley Ca; Parker House, 1981.)
79. Molteni, R, et al. A High-fat, Refined Sugar Diet Reduces
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Learning. NeuroScience. 2002;112(4):803-814.
80. Christensen, L. The Role of Caffeine and Sugar in Depression. Nutrition Report. Mar 1991;9(3):17-24.
81. Ibid,44
82. Yudkin, J. Sweet and Dangerous.(New York:Bantam Books,1974) 129
83. Frey, J. Is There Sugar in the Alzheimer’s Disease? Annales De Biologie Clinique. 2001; 59 (3):253-257.
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86. The Edell Health Letter. Sept 1991;7:1.
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92. Ibid.
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95. Sunehag, A. L., et al. Gluconeogenesis in Very Low Birth Weight
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97. Nutrition Health Review. Fall 85 changes sugar into fat faster than fat
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103. Arieff, A. I. Veterans Administration Medical Center in San
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oxygen to the brain.
104. Sandler, Benjamin P. Diet Prevents Polio. Milwakuee, WI,:The Lee Foundation for for Nutritional Research, 1951
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110. Gluconeogenesis in Very Low Birth Weight Infants Receiving Total Parenteral Nutrition. Diabetes. 1999 Apr;48(4):791-800.
111. linsmann, W., et al. Evaluation of Health Aspects of Sugar
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Agave, Stevia and the Glycemic Index

Agave Nectar

Ah, Agave a sweet and tasty nectar straight from the fields of Mexico. We feature both dark and light fairly traded and organic agave in 12 ounces jars from Essential Living Foods.

Agave Nectar Dark, 12 fl oz glass bottle, Essential Living Foods

The Agave plant is a succulent that grows in the arid regions of Southern Mexico, where traditionally the nectar has been fermented to make Tequila. The un-fermented nectar makes a sweet, raw sugar substitute, that is suitable for most diets and widely enjoyed by those who use it.

Dark Agave is the perfect alternative to brown sugar or maple syrup, sweetening with 25% fewer calories. Sweetening your life with Agave is easy, as it is similar in sweetness to sugar yet it has a much lower glycemic index level. It is great in tea, coffee, smoothies and can be used deserts and drinks. Agave rates 30 on the Glycemic Index Scale.


The Glycemic index is a rating scale that measures the way carbohydrates affect blood sugar levels after being consumed. The index runs form 0 to 100, foods rated 55 or lower are considered to be low glycemic index foods. Foods from 56 to 69 are medium and from 69-100 are high glycemic index foods; white sugar and many processed junk foods fall into the high glycemic index category. There are many factors that determine how you react to sugars. So consider use this index as a reference guide because a variety of factors affect your blood sugar response.

In general foods with a lower glycemic index produce less of a blood sugar spike than foods with a higher glycemic index. So why is this important? With a large sugar load comes a spike and this large spike leads to a large crash and when this pattern becomes habit it can lead to a health crisis. But if we can avoid this by choosing foods that have a low glycemic load we can prevent the Spike/Crash/Crisis scenario. 

Out of balance blood sugar leads to a Yo Yo effect on your body’s glandular system particularly the pancreas and adrenals.  

Here’s how it goes: you consume sugar with a high glycemic load, your blood sugar spikes, your body secretes insulin to draw the sugar out of your blood stream and into your cells. It does this because too much sugar in the blood is dangerous. But them what happens is your blood sugar gets low and your body starts to secrete the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol and you eventually start to crave more sugar which continues the cycle. Now folks this is very simplified, mainly because I don’t want to go into the technical jargon. But what is important is that you understand the cycle, lets review again.

1.) You Eat Food with a High Glycemic Index
2.) This causes a dangerous spike in blood sugar levels
3.) To counter this your pancreas secretes insulin to draw the sugar from the blood into the cells
4.) This leads to a drop in blood sugar and a. . .
5.) Desire for more sweets

How many people are trapped in this cycle? We do what we need to do to survive but if we don’t consciously intervene and stop this cycle it will continue and lead to a crisis.  And, don’t just listen to me, I encourage you to try it yourself. Watch what happens when you eat high sugar foods, watch the cycle see how it feels in your body, pay attention.

These spikes and peaks and valleys also cause a massive increase in the release of stress hormones in the body, such as cortisol and adrenaline. This leads to a host of other issues with weight gain and insulin resistance being two of the main outcomes. 


Take your sweetness and health one step further, consider using Stevia, a naturally sweet substance that rates ZERO on the Glycemic Index. Meaning it will not affect your blood sugar in any way. We have a variety of Stevia options for you to choose from making it easy for you to start using it in a number of different ways. 

Packets and Liquid

Tuck a few of the packets into your purse, pocket or backpack for use on the go. Or pick up a dropper bottle which also conveniently fits into a purse or backpack.

But, no matter how you choose to sweeten your life beware of the dangers,options and choices involved. Because over time your body will suffer from an overload of sugar. The body is resilient and with proper care and attention it will be there to serve and support you to live a healthy balanced life.

This piece was written and compiled for Zebra Organics by Mark D’Aquila, flower essence practitioner, www.essencealchemy.com