Summertime! Oh! the joys of backyard barbecues where men show their skills by skewering all kinds of meat and vegetables over open hickory coals, women concoct potato and egg salads galore, and kids wrestle for the last hotdog.

As soon as the lilacs start permeating their sweet fragrance through my open windows, I know summertime is right next door and I can start enjoying all those seasonal blessings. My local farmer’s market opened last week. I was surprised to see all the fresh garden veggies ready to eat. It’s so wonderful to put fresh garden salads on the table again, instead of vegetables and fruits shipped over from South America!

Glancing at the ice cream stands to see if they’ve opened their windows has paid off. It always fascinates me how they can come up with yet another new sensational flavor. Last year it was Maine Lobsta.  I did NOT try it. (I prefer my lobsta with lemon juice and melted butter!) My ice cream must have the luscious sweetness of chocolate, strawberry, blueberry, maple walnut . . . need I go on? Certainly, living summertime to its fullest means having desserts like fresh berry pies, sugary fruit drinks and anything else that would have been brought to a picnic by your grandmother. Thankfully, there is lots of fresh air and sunshine to aid us as we walk off those added pounds.

For decades, society has been cautioned about processed sugars and flour in our diet. Did you know that the brain’s fuel comes from one sweet commodity: sugar? Sugar, also known as glucose, acts as the primary energy source for the nervous system’s intricate workings. Without its steady supply, our remarkably complex brains would grind to a halt.

But, hold your horses! That doesn’t mean you should have free reign to all the sugar you desire. If we take the time to consider the difference between processed sugar and naturally occurring sugar, remember that processed sugars have no nutritional benefits.

We Americans have always loved our sugary treats. Looking through a very old church cookbook, I was amazed to see nearly every recipe (dessert or otherwise) was packed with processed sugars and flour! Too much added sugar can lead to health problems including high blood sugar, not absorbing insulin well, plaque buildup in artery walls, organ damage, and, not to forget, dental issues and obesity.

Now, don’t call me a summertime party-pooper yet! Sweeteners like fruit juice, honey, molasses and maple syrup contain natural sugar and have some nutritional benefits. Fruit has fiber, vitamins and antioxidants. Even raw honey and pure maple syrup contain antioxidants and minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and potassium.

Has your doctor or dietitian ever mentioned that cutting way back on highly refined foods and beverages with added sugar and artificial sweeteners just may be a healthier course to take? Hopefully, they also gave you alternative suggestions like:

  • Load up on whole foods such as fruits, veggies, whole grains, dairy products, lean proteins, seafood, nuts and seeds.
  • Skip the soda, energy drinks and other artificially sweetened teas and juices.
  • Use whole fruit as a sweetener.

Summertime must contain days of relaxation and a modicum of pampering. We deserve it! But all that indulgence should not be self-destructive in nature. Keep in mind that excessive glucose levels can harm brain health, cause obesity and lead to other harmful disorders. Our bodies are perfect instruments and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to health. What’s important is finding that balance and taking steps to better our wellness in the process.

Sum … sum … summertime is here! Enjoy it!

Youthful Aging Home Care integrates healthy lifestyle recommendations supporting patient care.  Nurses are trained in the anti-inflammatory diet.

Lani Kelly is a research writer for Youthful Aging Home Care

REFERENCE: Navigating Sweeteners: Understanding the Effects of Sugar and Artificial Alternatives on Brain Health | The Epoch Times