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Most of us enjoy sweet stuff (hopefully just occasionally). But, especially when you’re suffering from Adrenal Fatigue and want to recover from it, it is important to cut back on sugar. In order to do so it’s really helpful to be aware of the other names of sugar on food labels. Because without knowing it, you are probably consuming much more sugar than you would expect. Food manufacturers are savvy and have several tricks to hide sugar from you on their ingredient lists:
So make sure to look out for all the different names of sugar, and add them up. Look at the nutrition label for total sugar per serving and also at the ingredient list. Before I go on to list the many different names of sugar I would like to give you a little more information about sugar.
Sugar (chemical name sucrose) is a fairly recent product. It didn’t really become available to the public until about a century and a half ago. Before commercially produced sugar became available, people used honey.
Sugars are carbohydrates, which are an energy source for the body (other carbohydrates in food are starch, also known as complex carbohydrate, and fibers). Sugar is also sometimes referred to as simple or fast-acting carbohydrate. There are various types of sugars and they occur both naturally and as added ingredients in many foods. The most familiar form of sugar is sucrose, which consists of two simple sugars, fructose and glucose. Vegetables and fruits naturally contain fructose and glucose. Some other sugars used in foods include corn syrup, invert sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey and lactose (milk sugar). During digestion, all of these sugars with the exception of lactose break down into fructose and glucose. Lactose breaks down into glucose and galactose. As they (almost) all break down into fructose and glucose their names may be different but the impact the different forms of sugar have on the body is more or less the same!!
Today, on average, Americans are eating about 20 teaspoons of added sugar per day (or 320 calories) (2). This amounts to 64 pounds (29 kg) per year!
“In 1822, we ate the amount of added sugar in one 12 ounce can of soda (360 ml) every five days, while today we eat that much sugar every seven hours”(3)
While in some cases we may add sugar to food ourselves, most of these sugars come from processed and prepared food. Sugar is mostly created as a result of processing one of two types of plants: sugar beets or sugar cane. These plants are processed, and refined to eventually resemble the white table sugar you are familiar with.This sugar has absolutely zero nutritional value: it’s just refined, pure, sugar.
Did you know that most sugar today in the U.S. and many other countries comes from corn (Zea mays)? This is processed as a syrup and sold and used as high fructose corn syrup. Fructose is considered healthy by many as it is a natural ingredient in fruit and it does not raise blood glucose levels as readily as glucose. However, research suggests that (excessive) fructose consumption may lead to a wide range of health problems. Health problems such as insulin resistence which may lead to type 2 diabetes and obesity (4),(5), gout and elevated blood pressure (6),(7) and a new condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease that now affects up to one-third of Americans (8).
Dr. Robert Lustig’s, Sugar: The Bitter Truth, is a must watch 90 minute lecture that digs deep into the science and biochemistry behind fructose consumption.
Don’t be worried though to consume (organic) fruit in moderation, because fruit not only contains modest amounts of fructose (in it’s natural state), but it also contains fiber and a lot of vitamins and minerals. Since fruit contains sugar, it can still have an effect on your blood sugar, but it will have much less of a blood sugar spike as nutrient-void sugar or high-fructose corn syrup will have.
Along with making us fat, (excess) sugar consumption has been linked to a number of negative health conditions, such as contributing to an increased chance of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia, renal failure, macular degeneration, high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (9). Blood sugar levels have an impact on your energy, concentration, performance, mood, ability to lose weight and much more. Keeping balanced blood sugar levels is highly important for a healthy working HPA axis and to restore adrenal health.
Whenever you eat processed sugars (starchy foods or drink alcohol) without adequate amounts of quality fats and proteins together with essential vitamins and minerals, your blood sugar level will rise, and quickly too. As a result the the body reacts by releasing insulin, a hormone that quickly lowers your blood sugar levels. But because the feedback mechanism that signals your brain that blood sugar has returned to normal is slow to respond, this can often lead to a blood sugar crash to levels that are lower than your body’s homeostatis levels. The more processed sugars ingested in this manner, the more insulin that is released.
When your blood sugar levels dropped too low you could get into a coma, so your body must respond to this immediately. The body responds to this emergency situation by releasing cortisol. Cortisol helps the liver to convert glycogen to glucose to raise blood sugar levels. Often times when individuals experience low blood sugar and cortisol is released they will reach for things that will provide them with quick energy like coffee, colas, energy drinks or by eating something high in sugar. This in combination with the released sugar from the liver just starts the above process over and over again, a process that is sometimes referred to as the “blood sugar rollercoaster”.
A diet high in alcohol or refined and sugary foods predisposes you to the blood sugar rollercoaster. This is further aggravated by irregular eating habits. Both are a major source of daily HPA axis stresses.
If you want to optimize your health and recover from Adrenal Fatigue you should do your best to avoid foods that contain added sugars, such as regular table sugar (sucrose) or high fructose corn syrup (see the list below for more names for sugar). Naturally occurring sugars that are found naturally in foods such as fruits (fructose) and milk (lactose) are fine in moderation.
The Heart Association report suggests that the added sugar treshold is no more than 100 calories per day or recommends, about 9 teaspoons or 36 grams of sugar for men and about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar for women (10). This means that one can of coca cola with 35 grams of sugar already puts you over your sugar limit for the whole day!
So to summarize:
Consumption of naturally occurring sugars is fine in moderation. Added sugar in any form is not good for you and it’s even worse when you suffer from Adrenal Fatigue, so please use it sparingly.
When you still want to use an added sweetener occasionally, instead of sugar you could use:
Make sure to stay away from artificial sweeteners, as they can be even more damaging to your health than fructose. Agave syrup has been regarded as a healthy alternative by many, but you should stay away from it as well, as it’s a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose.
Below is a list to help you identify the various forms of sugar in your food (11):
56 names for sugar
|Barley malt||Golden sugar|
|Beet sugar||Golden syrup
|Blackstrap molasses||Grape sugar
|Brown sugar||High-fructose corn syrup|
|Cane juice crystals||Icing sugar|
|Cane sugar||Invert sugar|
|Carob syrup||Malt syrup|
|Demerara sugar||Organic raw sugar
|Evaporated cane juice
|Fruit juice concentrate
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