Tackling sugar and salt literally and spiritually.
Sugar is a substance usually in the form of white or brown crystals that primarily comes from plants and is used to make foods sweeter .
Sugar falls under the category of carbohydrates which are a type of macro-nutrient found in foods and beverages. There are different classifications that have been devised when it comes to looking at sugars, the most commonly used one is the 4 division one: Monosaccharides, Disaccharides, Oligosaccharides and Polysaccharides . For the purpose of this presentation, we will be looking at 3 sugars in our diet: Glucose (a monosaccharide), Sucrose (a disaccharide) and Fructose (a monosaccharide).
Glucose is a simple sugar that is found in nature and in our blood. It is also the source of energy in cell function .
Sucrose is the sweet crystalline disaccharide that is obtained commercially from sugar cane or sugar beets . According to the Sugar Association’s History page , sugar cane was probably first domesticated by the people of New Guinea in early BCE. After that, about 600 CE, sugar cane cultivation gained popularity throughout Southeast Asia, China and India. Crystallized sugar was found in Roman and Greek medical records before 100 BCE and then spread to the Mediterranean & East Africa. About 1100 CE, crusaders were introduced to sugar and brought it back to Europe (from the Holy Land) referring to it as “Sweet Salt”. In the 1400’s the Portuguese brought sugar over to Brazil, it eventually spread to the Caribbean and the rest of South America. By the 1700s, it became extremely popular with British and French colonies in the West Indies producing 80% of the sugar. In 1747 a German chemist identified there was sugar in beets. Then in 1751, the sugar cane was brought to Louisiana to make the final sugar colony. By 1838, the first US sugar beet factory was built in Massachusetts [6-for more info].
Fructose (with glucose) is the sugar that occurs in fruits, honey and some vegetables.. It is a component, along with glucose, that makes up sucrose, or table sugar. .
Sugar (on a whole) gets a bad rap, but what exactly are the ‘bad’ aspects of sugar, and is it something we can and should avoid? Are all sugars bad? Who is telling us the truth!
Sugar: The Good
God has blessed us with an abundance of fruits and before we knew it fructose was already there. Our bodies also uses and stores glucose for the sake of energy so we definitely need some healthy sugars in our lives.Unfortunately, there are unnatural sources of sugars which we would do well to avoid. See this link for more [opens a new window].
Sugar: The Bad
When money is ‘king’, industries will do anything to keep a customer coming back to their products. This line sheds light on their mindset “an addicted customer is a reliable customer” Finch, Cristin. Foundations of Personal Health and Wellness. As competition rises, industries will either lobby the government and medical professionals to push their agendas forward, or some industries may turn to labs to manufacture chemicals and additives to add to their foodstuffs.
ACTIVITY TIME: Find a food item that contains a Nutritional Label.
If you look at any food label, you may notice there are two places where sugar is listed: the dietary or naturally occurring sugars in a food and the added sugars. One of the most popular added sugars in many foods is High Fructose Corn Syrup.
*Side Note: there are many different names for sugar that appears in our foods. One doctor/professor, Dr. Robert Lustig (Professor and Neuroendocrinologist) found 56 names for sugar used by the food industry. There are lot more, but you can see these popular 56 can be found here: https://robertlustig.com/56-names-of-sugar/
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a common chemical sweetener that is found in sodas and a number of food items. As the use of this and other sugars have increased in food, obesity and health problems have also increased and many believe there must be a connection. There is a lot of debate on both sides in regards to this particular sweetener, and if you search, you will find those for and against the use of this as a food additive.
Literature and Articles Discussing HFCS
Book: This book explains the profits and business attractiveness of HFCS. Although the book was published in 1981, it quotes that “We expect HFCS unit sales to almost double by 1984”, “Instrumental in this sharp growth will be the expected step-up of demand from the soft drink industry” and “About 90% of incremental demand is expected to come from soft drinks — 60% from the top two companies, Coke and Pepsi.” (pg 6) – Taken from Black Book – High Fructose Corn Syrup Industry (May 1981). (n.d.). Bernstein Global Wealth Management.
Research Article: Potential health risks from beverages containing fructose found in sugar or high-fructose corn syrup (2013). The increasing consumption of sugar has dramatically increased our exposure to fructose (1). Sugar consumption has risen more than 40-fold since the Declaration of Independence was signed 250 years ago, and more than 40% of the added sugars in our diet are in sugar-sweetened beverages and fruit drinks (2,3). Thus, the principal sources of fructose in our diet are now sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, each of which has about 50% fructose. The intake of soft drinks has risen five-fold since 1950 (4,5) (Fig. 1) and with it the intake of fructose. The rise in the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup in beverages has paralleled the rise in the prevalence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome and is associated with the appearance of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (6-8). Although association does not prove causation, it has stimulated research to understand whether current levels of fructose intake in beverages pose a health risk . No potential conflicts of interest relevant to this article were reported.
To be fair, we wanted to also present an article that speaks about HFCS. We found one from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that says otherwise:
Research Article 2: Straight talk about high-fructose corn syrup: what it is and what it ain’t (2008). In the conclusionary arguments of this paper, the researcher says: The hypothesis that High Fructose Corn Syrup is a unique cause of obesity is not supportable in the United States or elsewhere, and the reasons are clear.  But, it is important to note the fine print below this article: “The author is a consultant to the food and beverage industry in nutritive sweeteners, including HFCS and sucrose. His professional associations, past and present, include individual food industry companies as well as such organizations as the American Chemical Society, American Council on Science and Health, Calorie Control Council, Corn Refiners Association, Institute of Food Technologists, and International Life Sciences Institute.” It is interesting that this research is endorsed by the food the beverage industry, so his research supports the use of this sweetener.
According to the researcher, the website, the article, the book you read, you will see conflicting accounts when it comes to the pros and cons of sugars (and the different types). Be wise, do your research and be especially wary of those who already have ties or get funding from industries to speak for or against any food item.
Salt (Sodium Chloride)
Salt is a chemical substance that is essential to health and to other industries. Some salt is used for culinary purposes and some are used in drilling, aluminum purification water softening and used on roads to melt ice during the winter   .
Salt can be extracted from sea water, mineral deposits and saltine lakes. Salt played a great role in human history, with the ancient Egyptians realizing the preserving possibilities. There were wars in BC China over salt, and places with the suffix ‘wich’ (like Norwich) that are associated with areas where salt working was common. Salt from the Sahara desert was a major trade good of Ancient Western Africa. Salt was such a precious commodity that it was worth its weight in gold in some parts of the continent during that time    .
According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, salt is the root word for salary, from Anglo-French salarie, Old French salaire “wages, pay, reward,” and from Latin salarium “an allowance, a stipend, a pension,”. It is also said to be originally “salt-money, soldier’s allowance for the purchase of salt” [Lewis & Short] .
Salt: The Good
Salt: The Bad
Unfortunately, as with many things in our diet, the excess of sodium and salt has detrimental effects. Because of its effect on water, excess sodium is linked to high blood pressure and other health issues, and we use a lot of it in our diet.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), here are the approximate amounts of sodium in a given amount of salt:
- 1/4 teaspoon salt = 575 mg sodium
- 1/2 teaspoon salt = 1,150 mg sodium
- 3/4 teaspoon salt = 1,725 mg sodium
- 1 teaspoon salt = 2,300 mg sodium
A majority of the sodium we consume (more than 70% is from packaged and prepared foods). Be diligent to read your food labels and see how much sodium is in the foods you eat [20- Read also the AHA Salty Six] [21- More AHA Info].
- Website: Food Politics by Prof. Marion Nestle.
- Website: Dr. Robert Lustig (MD, Prof & Neuroendocrinologist at the UCSF.
- Website: NutritionFacts Article on The McGovern Report.
Sweet Talk In The Bible
Old Testament Sweetness
- First mention is found in Gen 8:21 – H5207 – ‘Nee-kho’-akh’ (Strong’s Concordance reference). This one is found 43 times in the Old Testament (OT). Its definition include ‘pleasant‘ ; abstractly ‘delight’ – sweet (odour). Our observation: It seems safe to say this ‘sweet’ H5207 is also in conjunction with ‘savour’ H7381. The term is found 42 times in the OT. The opposites we find are ill-savour found in Joel 2:20 (different H number) and stinking savour in Eccles 10:1.
- The next reference we found was in Exo 15:25 – H4985 -maw-thak’. Found 5 times in OT. Strong’s Definition: A primitive root; to suck, by implication to relish, or (intransitively) be sweet: – be (made, X take) sweet.
- In Exo 25:6 -H5561- ‘Sam’. Found 17 times in OT. Strong: From an unused root meaning to smell sweet; an aroma: – sweet (spice).
- In Exo 30:23 -H1314 -‘Beh-sem’. Found 29 times in OT. Strong’s Definition: fragrance; by implication spicery; also the balsam plant: – smell, spice, sweet (odour). It is used as the word “spice” or “spices” in many places.
- One more reference, Micah 6:15 -H8492: tı̂yrôsh (Phonetic: tee-roshe’). Strong’s Definition: From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine. Found 38 times.
New Testament Sweetness
- First reference mentioned is found in Mark 16:1. Its transliteration is arōma). G759: From G142 (in the sense of sending off scent); an aromatic: – (sweet) spice. Found 4 times.
- Next, 2 Cor 2:15 (Transliteration: Euōdia). G2175: From a compound of G2095 and a derivative of G3605; good scentedness, that is, fragrance: – sweet savour (smell, -smelling). Found 3 times.
- Next, James 3:11 (Transliteration: glukus (gloo-koos). G1099: Of uncertain affinity; sweet (that is, not bitter nor salt): – sweet, fresh. Found 4 times.
Salt: Just A Pinch
Old Testament Salt
- First mention (relating to seasoning) is found in Lev 2:13. In the Strong’s Concordance, its reference is H4417: melach (Origin: from H4414). It means properly powder, that is, (specifically) salt (as easily pulverized and dissolved): – salt ([-pit]). It is found 27 times in the KJV Bible. (Also Job 6:6, salt is used to season food).
- In Judg 9:45, salt was used to destroy land.
- In 2 Kings 2:20-21, salt was used by the Prophet Elisha to heal water.
- In Ezek 16:4, salt used to clean newborns.
- In Ezra 4:14, the word maintenance used has to do with subsistence; the root word deals with salt (malack- H4415). (To eat salt with one is to partake of his hospitality, to derive subsistence from him; and hence he who did so was bound to look after his host’s interests (Ezra 4:14, “We have maintenance from the king’s palace;” A.V. marg., “We are salted with the salt of the palace;” RSV, “We eat the salt of the palace”– Easton’s Bible Dictionary).
- In Ezra 6:9 when King Darius gave a decree and was furnishing the Israelites with all that they would need for the journey, he made provision for their salt. The same with King Artaxerxes in Ezra 7:22.
New Testament Salt
- First mentioned is found in Matt 5:13. The Strong’s Concordance reference is from G217: Halas which is salt. Total KJV Occurrences: 8.
- Also in Matt 5:13, we see Halid’zo (G233 to salt: – salt. From origin G251. Also appears as ‘to be salted’). Total KJV Occurrences: 3.
- Next, Mark 9:50, An’alos (G358: From G1 (as a negative particle) and G251; saltless, that is, insipid: – X lose saltiness). Total KJV Occurrences: 1
Covenant of Salt
We found two scriptures that spoke about a Covenant of Salt: Num 18:19 and 2 Chron 13:5. In Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible commentary, we read “An everlasting covenant is called a covenant of salt” and in Easton’s Bible Dictionary, a “covenant of salt” signified an everlasting covenant, in the sealing or ratifying of which salt, as an emblem of perpetuity.
At this point we have looked at articles about sugar and salt, and we’ve only presented information. We have also mentioned the forms of sweet and salty in the Bible as well. Now we want to explore a bit of the practical side of striking a balance between the two. In the following quote from “Evergreen Christians”, we are admonished to meditate constantly on God’s word so that we can constantly grow:
“He shall be like a tree.” Constant growth is one of the characteristics of a tree. If it lives a thousand years, it grows every year. Each year of its life will see a circle added to it. It does not lose this year all that it gained last year, but it keeps all that it gains, and adds more. Only such growth as that is Christian growth. The true Christian life is continual advancement.“Evergreen Christians” in Signs Of The Times, Volume 17 March 23rd, 1891 by E.J. Waggoner
In our careers we strive for growth, production, expansion; in our academic pursuits we want to learn, attain and retain. In regards to our physical temples we want to improve and sharpen and flourish as opposed to languish and decay. So in our soul temples we should strive and labor for the higher ground.
And a little bit more from his tree analogy: “A tree draws its nourishment from hidden sources. Its roots strike down deep into the earth, to take nourishment; all out of sight are the processes of growth, but the foliage and the fruit are open to all beholders. So the Christian whose abundant fruit glorifies God is the one whose life is hid with Christ in God.” E.J. Waggoner
Time wisely devoted to prayer, study, meditation is not usually seen by those on the outside, but that seed always bears fruit.
Finally, let us end with 2 Pete 1:2-7 and Rom 12:1-2.
So in all we do literally and spiritually, may we be “unto God a sweet savour of Christ” (2 Cor 2:15) as we also called to be the “salt of the earth” (Matt 5:13).