I spoke to a group of kids from D.C.’s public school system this week, as part of the RECESS program for the American Heart Association.
My topic at this loud, fun, mega event, along with the Washington Redskins and their cute cheerleaders, was sugar. How did I get them to listen to me, you may ask… I had the snacks.
We know that sugar is not healthy in excess, and as an adult you want to avoid the “crazy kid” syndrome, but in preparing to speak to the kids, I realized that there are many things about sugar that adults don’t know.
I spoke about the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Kids need sugar to grow; they’re programmed to want and physically benefit from sugar to build bones and the sweeter the taste, for them, the better, according to new findings released just last week, reported by NPR radio.
The problem is that sugar can be overly processed, loaded with chemicals, and not good for kids growth in any way. Sugars like High Fructose Corn Syrup, or overly processed white sugar should be avoided, even if your kid is craving it.
We want our kids, and us, to have sugar from whole fruits and sweet veggies, like apples, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets. We want them to have the fiber in tact, and no more store bought high sugar juices.
Sugar elevates our moods, and without fiber from fruits or vegetables to allow the sugar to absorb as energy, it quickly crashes us down. Kids know what that feels like, and most adults realize that having a donuts for breakfast doesn’t sustain them until lunch.
Sugar interferes with the absorption of other essential nutrients that strengthen our immunity, like Vitamin C, so eating a diet high is processed sugar actually competes with the Vitamin absorption and wins. Eating too much sugar will lower your immunity and you may find yourself with more colds and flu’s than you would otherwise.
Sugar is inflammatory, and inflammation leads to things like arthritis, irritable bowel, and eventually heart disease and cancer. Sugar also inflames the skin, causing break-outs, skin eruptions, psoriasis, rosacea, and eczema, all aggravated by processed sugar intake.
In addition to healthy fruits and sweet vegetables, try natural sweeteners like stevia, coconut sugar, both crystallized and liquid, maple syrup and honey in moderation.