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Sugar vs. Carbs

OK, when someone says sugar what are most of you thinking about? Candy? Ice cream? Cookies? Maybe some of you are thinking of soda, sports drinks, or caramel macchiatos.  How many of you think of milk, fruit, pasta, bread, mashed potatoes, alcohol, or rice?

What is sugar anyway?

Simply put, sugar is a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates come in three types: simple sugars, starches, and fiber.  Fiber is indigestible and isn’t exactly a nutrient so much as it is an essential food for the bugs in your GI track keeping your immune system in balance. The other two types, simple sugars and starch are really the EXACT same thing, only one is a bigger molecule than the other.

The only physical difference between a simple sugar, otherwise known as sugar, and a complex carbohydrate is one takes a little longer to get into your system because your body has to take more time to digest it.  That’s it. That’s all. Sugar = carbohydrate = sugar.

Don’t we NEED sugar to live?

Physiologically we do not need additional sugar, as in table sugar or sucrose, in our diet. Our body is perfectly capable of making all the simple sugar we need from the break down of more complex carbohydrates.  Physiologically the requirement for dietary sugar is zero.

We do, however, need carbohydrates, lots of them, and the best form is are vegetables and fruits.  Even thought we limit grains and avoid sugar, the Clearwater Docs do not eat a low carb diet.  I eat 5-6, or more, cups of veggies a day which is about 1000+ calories worth, that’s 50-60% of my daily calorie requirement from COMPLEX carbohydrates.

How much sugar is ok?

There is no agreed upon answer to this question in the literature. Thirty-two grams of “added” sugar (about 8 tsp) is the typical amount considered acceptable for non-diabetic persons. Added sugars includes table sugar (cane, beet, sucrose, fructose that is not in a whole piece of fruit), corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sugar (glucose), honey, and maple syrup.

There are all kinds of different ways people were trying to divide up sugars that “count” as sugarand at the end of the day we are splitting hairs to justify how to eat more sugar a day and feel “ok” about it. Ultimately, your job is to listen to what your body wants.  This requires getting quiet, slowing down, and listening to your inner voice. (No, its not the one saying to eat a dozen doughnuts before lunch. It’s the other one.)

Read your labels: On a product label the category “sugar” refers to simple carbs. The fiber category is just that, fiber. The rest of the grams listed are complex carbohydrates or starches.

Sugar: How We Love Thee So

In the last 20 years, we have increased our sugar consumption in the U.S. by 26 pounds to an annual total of 135 lbs. of sugar per person! Prior to the turn of the 20th century (1887-1890), the average consumption was only 5 lbs per person.  It is reasonable to infer that this increase might play a significant roll in the increase in chronic illness as well (namely diabetes, heart disease, cancer, ADD, autism, and even anxiety and depression).

What contributed to this increase in consumption? One possibility was the introduction of processed food which made foods high simple carbs more available to the everyday person.  Another factor was eating a low fat diet.  In hopes of decreasing the incidence of heart disease we, as culture, decreased our consumption of fat from 35% of our calories to 20% from 1980 to 1999.  However, we still ate the same total number of calories a day.  We had to replace those calories with something… and that something was sugar.

The main place we associate sugar with disease is in the case of diabetes. However, sugar’s roll in disease is far more grave than that. There isn’t a chronic disease excess sugar doesn’t play a degenerative roll in.

diabetesSugar is a major factor in mood and metal disorders like ADD, ADHD, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and mood swings. Sugar is the fuel of cancer. Sugar plays a roll in chronic inflammatory illnesses like heart disease, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis, asthma, and allergies. Sugar depresses immune and hormone function. And it’s empty calories are deeply associated with weight gain and our obesity epidemic.

One way sugar shuts down the immune system by increasing cortisol levels released from the adrenal glands.  Cortisol is a stress hormone and one of its jobs is to prioritize the stressors over everyday physiology, like digestion, cellular repair, and fighting infection. This is why high stress times in your life often end with illness.

Additionally, sugar enters your cells using the same pathway as vitamin C. Thus, eating too much sugar can lead to a functional vitamin C deficiency and end with a depressed immune system which is dependent on vitamin C to function optimally.

Lastly, sugar is an inflammatory food and as such can damage tissues and increase swelling anywhere in the body.  One of the major issues in all chronic disease is excess inflammation, so avoiding sugar and simple carbohydrate foods is a great way to add health to rebalance your system.

Healthiest Sunscreens

Sunscreen falls into two categories: ones that physically create a barrier and “blocks” the sun and ones that absorbs into the skin and reflect the sun due to a chemical reaction.  In general the blockers – zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are a healthier choice.


  • PABAs
  • Parabens
  • Oxybenzone
  • Retinyl palmitate
  • Added insect repellent
  • Sprays
  • Powders
  • SPF above 50+

Look for:

  • Zinc
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Avobenzone or Mexoryl SX
  • Creams
  • Broad-spectrum protection
  • Water-resistant for beach, pool & exercise
  • SPF 30+ for beach & pool

Find recommendations for healthy sunscreens at: 

The Environmental Working Group (EWG)

They provide current research on sunscreen safety and effectiveness, published June 2011.

Getting Enough Vitamin D

Vitamin D is actually not a vitamin at all but a pre-hormone that is made in our skin after it is exposed to sunshine, specifically only UV-B radiation. Vitamin D is responsible for helping our genes to code for proteins properly – which means it is involved in thousands of functions in the body and thus a deficiency can contribute to a high list of disorders. Vitamin D is essential for our bone health, health of our immune system, brain and nervous system, and the health of our digestive track.

How do you get Vitamin D?

The main, and best, source of vitamin D is sun-exposure.  UV-B radiation generates the active form of Vitamin D, Vitamin D3.  You can also get some (but not all) vitamin D from farm fresh eggs, organic pasture butter, fish, fish oil, and grass fed meats. Note the Vitamin D3 from milk, margarine and bread is all added in processing and not naturally occurring in the food.  Additionally, the inflammatory effect to the body of these foods ends up counteracting the benefits of the added vitamin D.

It turns out that the suns rays between 10 am – 2 pm is the ideal intensity to get the best dose of vitamin D.  We used to be told to avoid the sun between 10 am – 2 pm, and I don’t recommend staying out for four hours at that time, thirty minutes a day is sufficient.

Vitamin D Deficiency

We are experiencing an epidemic Vitamin D deficiency that is highly correlated to osteoporosis, osteopenia, mood disorders, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, ADD/ADHA, stomach problems, heart disease, inflammation, poor wound healing, and poor immune function.  We need to be outside – under the sun – for our health!

Additionally, Vitamin D deficiency is correlated to an INCREASED incidence of more than 18 cancers including colon, rectal, breast, bladder, brain, endometrial, esophagus, gallbladder, lungs, ovaries, pancreas, prostate, kidney, stomach, Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, leukemia, and MELANOMA.

I thought skin cancer was caused by sun exposure?

Any and all cancers are never caused by only one factor.  Cancer is caused by a genetic defect in a cell that is allowed to take root in the body due a combination of immune dysfunction, poor liver function (toxic chemicals in sunscreen can contribute to this), and an unresolved emotional trauma.  Sunburns can contribute to disease, sun exposure contributes to health. Everything in balance.

Sun, Sunscreen and Vit D recommendations:

  • Do not burn your skin
  • Use sunscreen as a last resort after more natural choices
  • Get outside for 30 minutes everyday between 10 and 2
  • Get your Vitamin D tested to see what level you are at
  • If additional supplementation is needed take a minimum of 2,000 IUs liquid Vitamin D3 everyday, all year, as recommended by your Naturopathic Doctor

Nature’s Sun Screen

Over the past 40 years Americans have been well trained to be sure not an inch of our skin is kissed by the sun.  We are told to put sunscreen on every day regardless of whether we are going outside, “just in case”.  We are told to slather our kids every time they go outside for their health.  We have been told over and over using sunscreen prevents skin cancer, but that statement has never been scientifically proven.

Do we really need all that sunscreen?

In our opinion, we don’t.  We evolved under the sun, in the fresh air and our health depends on getting out in the sun everyday.  The over-use of sunscreen has been correlated to a rising epidemic of vitamin D deficiency which is related to many common diseases and ailments in our population (see below for more information). Additionally, there is considerable evidence that the chemicals in sunscreen are actually toxic for our body.

How healthy are the chemicals in sunscreen itself? 

Over 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our body in just seconds.  Unfortunately, many sunscreens are toxic to the liver, can promote estrogen dominance, and may actually increase the risk of cancer (see below for more about the cause of cancer).

Too much sun is a problem for our health, so what do we do?

Sunscreen is not the only way to protect ourselves from sunburn. Many think zinc oxide is the most natural sunscreen, but actually the MOST natural sunscreen is shade.

Nature’s sunscreens:

  • Shade UP! Get under a tree, umbrella, or building
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and sunglasses
  • Eat a whole food diet with tons of antioxidant rich veggies and fruits. The healthier you are the more likely you will tan and not burn, no matter your skin type.

See the side bar for more specific information on the chemicals in sunscreen.

30-Days to Fit: Arbonne Fresh Start Detox

The doctors of Clearwater have researched to find an easy, affordable program that stands up to our high standards of whole food nutrition and gentle detoxification.

The Get Fit: Fresh Start program is a 30-day program that can get you started on your path to feeling fit – whether that means loosing weight, getting in better shape, having more energy or incorporating healthy eating habits.

The plan provides:

* meal replacement protein shake
* natural energy boosting supplement
* gentle detox support
* daily meal plan
* sample recipes
* healthy whole food recommendations

“I am absolutely amazed at how well this detox program works! After just 8 days on the program, I am 8 pounds lighter and I feel AMAZING. I seriously have not felt this good in years!!! I feel like I have been given a gift and want to share it with everybody.” – PC

“One thing that really impressed me with using these products consistently is that these were the last 10 or so lbs I have been working on for a long time… with consistent effort and focus–I did it! I also broke my expensive Starbucks habit!” – BG

Call or email us to learn how this program can give you the fresh start you need to add health to your life.

Daily Eats on Facebook

Another frequently asked question of 2010 is how to eat gluten free (GF) and dairy free (DF). To answer that question the doctors of Clearwater are posting daily updates to the CW facebook page of what they eat.

Tanda and Sarah have been eating gluten free, dairy free, and mostly grain free for over six years now.  In doing so they have become masters in how to prepare easy, fast and delicious meals for the whole family that support health and eliminate these inflammatory ingredients from our diets.  Check it out today!

Adding Health on Facebook:

  • Daily Eats: meal ideas, quick tips and recipe links
  • Facebook deals offering coupons and discounts to our patients on services and supplements.
  • Event invitations to dinners, open houses, and up coming classes.
  • Reminders and tips to stay committed to adding health to your life everyday.

Find us on Facebook