This time of year it seems that there is a plate of cookies, a pie or a dish of candy waiting around every corner and especially in the break room at work. We may choose to overindulge and eat more sugar than we are used to, after all, it is the holidays. I think it is safe to say that we have all heard about how bad sugar can be for weight management and health. I am not here to preach or tell you what you cannot and should not eat, however I did want to share an interesting bit of information when it comes to sugar and our immune system.
Our white blood cells use natural vitamin C to fight off viruses and bacteria. Sugar and vitamin C are similar in their structural make up, so when you eat sugar, it creates competition for space within the blood cell and bumps out the vitamin C. This weakens your immune system and can promote illness and disease. In fact, eating 100 grams of sugar (1 liter bottle of soda) can hinder your body’s ability to kill bacteria for up to 5 hours after consumption.
Not all sugars are created equal, however. When you eat a piece of fruit or vegetable high in natural sugar, you also consume fiber and nutrients that help your body to break down that sugar. Highly refined and concentrated sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup and white table sugar, force the body to pull the nutrients needed to break down the sugar from your bones, organs and tissues.
Instead of white, refined sugar as a sweetener and for baking, try using instead Coconut Sugar, stevia, agave, or honey. These less processed and refined alternatives are readily available in your local grocery store.
Most sugar consumption in the US comes from drinking sugary sodas. If you crave that carbonation and sensation of soda we have a great alternative for you. We made our own by fermenting some ginger and adding natural flavors from fruit.
First we started by creating a “ginger bug” by fermenting some ginger. In a glass jar combine the following:
- 1 cup of non chlorinated water
- 2 tbs freshly ground ginger
- 2 tbs white sugar (we used raw cane sugar)
Dissolve the sugar in the water (we doubled the recipe and did 1 cup warm water to dissolve and then a 1 cup cold water) and then stir in the ginger. Lightly cover with the lid, place the jar on a saucer and leave it on the counter out of direct sun light. Every day add 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of freshly grated ginger and stir to feed “the bug”. Within 3 days you will start to notice some bubbles and by day 5 you will have a real fizzy mixture.
As the ginger ferments, the good bacteria eat the sugar, leaving you with sugar free, ginger flavored, carbonated water that has huge health benefits like probiotics and beneficial enzymes!
Puree up your favorite fruit (we used raspberries and blackberries about 1 cup of each), and pass through a strainer to remove any seeds. The easiest way to do this is to place the strainer over a bowl, pour in the puree and then use a spatula to move the puree through the strainer.
Combine the fruit puree and 2 cups of the ginger bug in a glass and stir lightly. Add a little agave, honey or stevia to sweeten to taste.
If you are crunched on time or do not like the taste of ginger, you can combine club soda with the pureed fruit to get the fizz without the calories.