Sugars can be divided into three groups:
Sucrose is found in table sugar, candy and most commercial foodstuffs (even things you'd not expect like baked beans and bread); see my earlier paper On Sugar. It inhibits gastric juices, which is why your mother always told you that "sweets will spoil your dinner". As well as slowing down digestion, sucrose even uses up B-vitamins. It also inhibits the secretion of ptyalin in saliva, so that starches are not pre-digested in the mouth, having to wait until they reach the small intestine hours later. Meanwhile the sugar ferments in the warm, moist environment of the stomach, producing alcohol (which uses up yet more B-vitamins) and carbon dioxide (which causes wind). Heartburn is a common complaint resulting from stomach acid driven up the esophagus by CO2 release.
On the other hand, fructose (the sugar found in fruits) is much simpler to convert into glucose (which the body can utilise directly). Lactose (the sugar found in milk) requires the enzyme lactase for digestion, which children have plenty of, but which is reduced as we get older, such that many adults have none; for them milk or cheese will cause problems. Maltose (the sugar found in malt and RiceDreamTM) is possibly a better disaccharide than sucrose or lactose.
Sugar has the magical ability to mask our true physical state, and is a great way to stop us from feeling how we really are. Eating a cake will just switch off any emotions and destroy our ability to perceive finer energies. True, when you eat a cream cake, you get an immediate rush of pure energy, which makes you feel great initially, until you come down the other side into a Trough. The irresistible temptation is then to eat more to get another 'hit', thus aggravating the problem further. Though sweet in appearance, The Kandyman brings decay. Hence fruits are better than chocolate or cakes, as well as coming pre-wrapped in bio-degradable packaging (need I say more...?).
"Sugar contains no useful nutrients apart from energy and we can get all the energy we need from healthier sources."
Sugar is regarded as an energy food, but it is a remarkable fact that the heavy sugar-eater prefers to watch athletic games to taking part in them. We, of course, have reference to the heavy-eater of commercial sugars. They seem to stimulate and then depress the muscular powers. [...]
It has long been the Hygienic theory that the catarrhal diseases are based on carbohydrate excess--sugar excess, as all starches are converted into sugar in digestion. It is interesting to note, in this connection, that the British Medical Journal for June 1933 carried an article discussing "the relation of excessive carbohydrate ingestion to catarrh and other diseases," in which it was pointed out that during World War One, the incidence of catarrhal illnesses was reduced seemingly corresponding with the great reduction of sugar consumption. The writer of the article concludes that "restriction in the use of sugar would result in improvement in the national health as regards catarrhal illness, as well as in other directions."
- Herbert M. Shelton in Chapter II of Orthotrophy (1935)
Choosing slow-release carbohydrates over a quick-fix sugary snack will *always* help in the long run. The world needs level-headed solutions, not ill-judged kludges. Yet even here, our modern industrial food fails us: nutritious wholemeal flour is refined and the goodness taken out. Avoid white bread and white flour, and choose only brown rice and wholewheat pasta. Cellulose is an indigestible carbohydrate in vegetable fibres, fruit skin and seed hulls; while of no nutritional value, this fibre is very beneficial as it promotes peristalsis, the wave-like motion in the intestine.
Raw foods are crucial for the live enzymes they include. These are destroyed by the heat of cooking, and completely lacking in processed foodstuffs. Similarly, water-soluble vitamins such as C, B1, B2, B3, B6, pantothenic acid and folic acid, are sensitive to heat and often do not survive the cooking process, unlike the more resilient minerals which form the organic constituents of the bones, teeth, soft tissue, muscle, blood, and nerve cells. Stir-frying quickly over a high heat preserves more goodness than roasting, boiling or deep-frying. Steaming is better than boiing (especially for broccoli), as nothing is lost to the water. Overcooking and burning food can produce carcinogenic 'free radicals' which inhibit the action of antioxidants such as vitamins A, C and E (which could be doing more productive things in the body if not having to fight off free radicals), so avoid re-using cooking oil and setting fire to the toast. A raw salad with each meal provides essential nutrients to aid digestion of the cooked foods. When preparing a meal, be sure to chop fresh fruits (and salads as well of course) last of all, to preserve the enzymes and vitamins which will quickly spoil. Live food advocates proclaim the goodness of raw foods for this reason that cooking kills much goodness.
Fresh pineapples (not tinned) contain the enzyme bromelain which is beneficial in processing undigested proteins. (During preparation, be sure to remove the eyes (the thorny protrusions within the puffy squares of the skin), as they can cause a very sore throat if swallowed.)
Herbs and spices such as caraway, cardamon, cayenne, celery, cinnamon, cloves, fennel and ginger all encourage digestion, as well as enhancing the taste of food. My favourite herbs are basil, chives and sorrel, which grow well in pots indoors or in the garden; the flowers have a particularly intense flavour! It is said that Pythagoras never ate a meal unless it contained ginger. Similarily garlic is very beneficial for health and digestion, traditionally having many uses which are lost to our 'modern' culture; for instance, it can even be used to make disinfectant for cleaning, and has amazing antiseptic properties which were utilised in dressing the wounds of soldiers in World War One.
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© copyright Malcolm Smith 2002-04-10 - last updated 2003-01-08 - links verified 2004-02-01