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Sugar; a timely topic

February 21, 2014

sugar on spoon


Sugar is damaging our health. It’s all over the news and difficult to ignore; this latest research coming from many reputable sources.  No surprise here, it’s just taken a while for those who can make a difference to take a new stand. Now that Pandora’s Box has been opened there is no going back. The big question is what do we do with this information, where to start and even more importantly, once we begin to make changes, how do we continue?

To begin it helps to recognise what all of this really means. After all, don’t we need sugar for energy? Yes and no. We do fuel our brains and muscles with glucose first, the sugar that results when food is broken down. Of course it is much more complex than this, but for the purpose of this article it is the type of foods that we overconsume and how quickly they break down that has created the sugar related health problems.

Since the 1970’s fats have been vilified as the cause of obesity and heart disease.  Sugars of all kinds, sugary processed foods, excess starchy carbohydrates and far too much fruit have been consumed in their place and now have finally been recognised for contributing to these conditions as well as also diabetes, inflammatory conditions, hormonal imbalnces, skin problems and many more. We just eat too much sugar , processed foods and starches.

Even as the experts attempt to confirm the dangers of sugar there are those who are trying to discredit and undermine it. The reasons why? There are several; sugar is addictive, it is a low cost additive, it makes processed foods taste better, it gives an immediate burst of energy, and finally-humans are naturally, historically and genetically drawn to consume of sweet foods.

The reasons sugars harms is due to different factors; nutrient depletion, overwhelming the pancreas and immune systems,feeding unfriendly bacteria in the gut to name a few.  Sugars and processed  carbohydrates  have in different degrees been stripped of their own nutrients; vitamins, minerals and fibre and in turn draw on ours when we consume them-they require B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C  in order to utilise them.

Overloading with sugar, starch and even fruit at one meal (we all have different tipping points) causes the blood sugar levels to rise too high which in turn signals the pancreas to release increasing amounts of insulin, a hormone that lowers blood sugar. This happens automatically and is the body’s self preservation means to maintaining homeostasis, otherwise high sugar levels can damage the eyes and kidneys. Over time, constant sugary excesses require more and more insulin be released from the pancreas as we become resistant to our own insulin. In other words it becomes less effective so it needs to flood the system in order to be utilised.

Stress hormones kick in when insulin levels rise over time, putting the body into a distressed situation. Long term, unrelenting stress hormones are depleting, inflammatory and destructive to immunity, digestion, reproduction, bones, the nervous system and so much more.

Looking at all the foods that we have been discouraged from eating since the 1970’s: eggs, butter, cheese, nuts, meats, even whole milk-‘real foods’ that we can now let go of  the guilt about eating. At last the real culprit has been identified and the promise of a consensus on how to go forward to restore our health and prevent chronic disease gets nearer.

Sugar has many names: sucrose, dextrose, galactose, glucose, maltose, fructose, lactose

Below are lists of the sugars and foods that are best avoided and others that need to be significantly reduced:

Avoid

  • caster sugar, demerara sugar, icing sugar, beet sugar
  •  golden syrup, corn syrup, high fructose corn sweetener, treacle
  • all artificial sweeteners
  • white flour products (bread, cakes, biscuits, croissants, pies crackers, cereals)
  • processed soups, sauces, gravies
  • sugary fizzy drinks
  • fruit yogurts

Significantly reduce:

  • fruit juices
  • raw sugar, barley malt, honey, rice syrup, date syrup, fruit purees, agave, coconut sugar, xylitol, agave, maple syrup
  •  alcohol
  • fruit-keep to 2 pieces a day

 

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