Sugar – the Not So Sweet Facts
Did you know that fructose, one of the sugar compounds found in both whole foods like apples and processed foods such as cakes and soda drinks, is the only ‘food’ on the planet that fails to turn on the hormone leptin which tells us when we have had enough?
We have no off switch for sugar!
In fact we are genetically programmed to seek it out and gorge on it; it is addictive and that is why we love it. Traditionally a sweet taste indicated that a food was safe to eat and back in cavemen days sugar was extremely rare. There were berries and the odd beehive with honey. These rare sweet treasures provided a great way of creating fat; we were programmed to binge on it and to be obsessed by it. In 10,000 years our DNA hasn’t changed though the amount of sugar on the planet has. One-hundred years ago we ate less than 20 pounds of sugar a year, now on average we eat 220 pounds a year! The World Health Organisation recommends 6 teaspoons of sugar a day whilst the daily average is 23 teaspoons. Given that excessive sugar has been proven to make us sick, contributing to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, cancer, hypertension, insomnia, dizziness, allergies and tooth decay to name just some, it is not surprising that we are as a nation in a ‘health’ crisis.
Sugar is now widely used because as well as offering a sweet taste and feeding the sweet, soda and processed food production companies, it also has a functional purpose in many of the foods we consume. It feeds yeast so bread can rise, balances flavours, assists in caramelisation, reduces the risk of microbial growth in jams and jellies and increases moisture in baked goods. I recently saw a pack of reduced fat sausages with a 25% sugar content!
If we are to cut down on sugar, we need to start by being aware of how much there actually is in the foods we eat and stay wary of the marketed ‘natural healthy sugar’ alternatives such as agave syrup, as they are still processed by the body as ‘sugar’. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful all year round and contain enough natural sugars to give us what we need. When consumed in the form of whole foods like this the fibre also helps increase satiety, so limiting the amount we consume and thereby reducing the glucose spike that can lead to compromised health.
If you want to reduce your sugar intake start gradually by cutting out as much refined and processed food as possible, and this includes things like fruit juices which often have added sugar. Instead crowd them out with some of the sweeter natural carbohydrates like sweet potato, parsnip and berries. A frozen grape can provide a satisfying sweet treat when the craving gets tough. Reducing your sugar intake is not so much about dieting, it’s about making lifestyle changes that can be implemented little by little, week by week.
If this is something you would like to discuss further, then please call me for a no obligation chat.
Here’s to you and your health!
iquitsugar.com also has some useful information and recipes.