Owing in no small part to its status as one of the area’s top producers of rice and sugar, Guyana is generally regarded as the breadbasket of the Caribbean. GBTI offer various types of business loans, including agricultural loans, to support Guyanese entrepreneurs and farmers. These agricultural loans can be used to purchase equipment, fertilizer, land, and more. Although the source of refined sugar has to a great extent shifted from sugarcane to sugar beets in many parts of the world, Guyana continues to cultivate sugarcane, which, perhaps surprisingly, has some significant health benefits.
While many people generally associate sugar with diseases like diabetes, the juice of sugarcane differs rather substantially from the refined product. This is because sugarcane juice retains many of the vitamins and minerals found in the plant. For example, the juice contains iron, magnesium, riboflavin, and thiamine, all of which are removed from the refined product. In the end, more research needs to be done to understand the full health benefits of sugarcane, but some of them are already known. The potential health benefits of sugarcane include the following:
1. Disease prevention: Sugarcane is a great source of antioxidants, which play an important part in bolstering and sustaining immunity by combating free radicals. Molecules in the body that can damage healthy cells, free radicals can exacerbate various medical conditions, including diabetes, malaria, myocardial infarction, and skin cancer. While other sources of antioxidants exist in nature, sugarcane offers an impressive amount.
2. Diuretic properties: A substance that facilitates the removal of excess salt and water from the body, a diuretic is important for maintaining proper kidney function. Thus, sugarcane juice may confer protection against some kidney diseases. Moreover, research suggests that sugarcane juice combined with lime and coconut water can reduce the burning sensation associated with various urinary tract conditions, including urinary tract infections. The relief is likely due to the diuretic properties of the juice, as well as the balance of electrolytes achieved by combining it with lime and coconut water.
3. Diabetes benefits: Individuals with diabetes are unable to regulate their blood sugar levels properly because of issues with insulin. When people get diagnosed with diabetes, they are typically encouraged to use sugarcane derivatives over refined sugars, which helps them to regulate their glycemic index and keep blood sugar levels under control. In particular, studies have shown that sugarcane molasses concentrate can actually lower glucose in the body and inhibit the production of insulin to maintain better control. Furthermore, sugarcane has been found to be a purgative, meaning that it can help regulate high blood pressure, which is a common comorbidity among individuals with diabetes.
4. Pregnancy benefits: People tend to associate sugar with weight gain, which is true even with unrefined options like sugarcane. However, consuming a modest amount of sugarcane can actually boost metabolism and lessen the weight gain associated with pregnancy in women. While it is important to consume only small amounts, a little bit of sugarcane juice may actually have a benefit. The other benefit for pregnant women is in reducing the impact of morning sickness and strengthening the immune system. Studies have found that sugarcane juice with ginger is capable of accomplishing both of these things for pregnant women. Of course, women should always consult a physician if they are experiencing extreme morning sickness.
5. Healthy teeth: Sugar is typically associated with dental caries. However, sugarcane juice includes both calcium and phosphorus, which are key in building tooth enamel and the overall strengthening of teeth and bones. These nutrients can help safeguard against tooth decay, which means that people may also experience better breath with sugarcane juice. Bad breath is often linked to a lack of calcium and phosphorus in the diet. For children, sugarcane juice can promote a healthier skeletal system by providing a good source of calcium. Of course, sugarcane juice does not replace proper dental care or ensuring that a diet has calcium from other key sources.
6. Acne treatment: While drinking sugarcane juice will not help treat acne, using it topically may have a benefit. This is because sugarcane juice contains alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic acid. These acids help increase skin turnover to speed healing. In addition, they function as a natural exfoliant to reduce the likelihood of recurrent acne. Traditionally, sugarcane juice is mixed with Fuller’s earth to create a sort of mud mask that can be applied to the face and neck. After 20 minutes, the mask can be washed off with cool water to help alleviate milder forms of acne. Even for people without acne, this sort of mask can fight blemishes and reduce the signs of aging.