What really lurks behind the rise of chronic disease?
OK, I admit that chronic disease is multi faceted problem which combines so many important factors such as lifestyle, stress, genetics and much more. However, when clients ask me nutritionally whats the best place to start, I always say “Look at your intake of simple and/or processed sugar”. Why…read on…?
Who hasn’t got a sweet tooth?
I certainly have! As an only child coming through a very rough childhood, I certainly comfort ate…much more than most, leading to childhood obesity. 14 stones at 5 ft 2 aged 13 were not stats that I was proud of, however the worse that I felt about myself, the more “Comfort” foods I ate. I always chose that sugar high which lurked at the end of empty sweet wrappers and soft drink cans, only to feel empty, shallow and ashamed later. Nothing that another chocolate bar or 3 couldn’t help however…
Whilst most people don’t have quite the addiction that I once had, scores of people across the nation have a heavier reliance upon sugar than they realise. From the nutty syrup in the eagerly awaited mid morning coffee to the sugar laden mid afternoon muffin that we really “Fancy”…those desires may be driven by more than simple longing, they may be driven by addiction.
“Sugar is more addictive than crack cocaine”. I’ve heard this touted many times as a trainer & nutritionist. Research would suggest that it is, however the results of moderate exposure to sugar when compared to cocaine are somewhat less severe to our health. Hence the comparison is a tad sensationalist, but nonetheless the danger of sugar is real and it’s very much here to stay. The real danger lies in the fact that so much sugar lies hidden within ingredients in many “healthy, natural” foods. The labels “healthy & natural” are for a future article, however we must take note and look at our labels in more detail.
Look at sugar content on each label. If the sugar content is 5g per 100g of product or less, it can be classified as a low sugar food. 5-10g/100g is moderate, 10g+ per 100g is a high sugar food.
“Healthy” Kellogg’s Sultana Bran contains 30g of sugar (6 heaped teaspoons) per 100g! Other cereals aimed at children can be much higher.
So What Does Sugar Do That Is So Dangerous?
Where do we start? So, you eat the sugar, you get your sugar “high” and the body recognises the fact that your blood sugar level has spiked, and thus releases insulin from the pancreas to transport the sugar to the muscles, the liver and to fat cells. The insulin transporting the sugar leaves blood sugar levels low which in turn leaves you craving what gave you sugar high…which is more sugar.
This is known as sugar cyclicity as many people go through this several times every day. The sugar that is consumed contains zero vitamins, minerals or fibre, in fact it what we term an anti-nutrient as it depletes the body (especially the bones) of valuable minerals simply to break it down and get rid of it.
Furthermore, the sugar that is transported to the liver and muscles often ends up being shifted to fat cells for storage if the muscles and liver are full. Imagine your car fuel tank being full, it cant hold any more…it would overflow and spill on the floor.
With the body, when we overflow, it simply gets sent to our fat cells for storage, leading to weight gain.
Sugar cyclicity is huge contributing factor for weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high “bad” cholesterol levels, heart disease, cancer & many more chronic conditions.
I know as well as you that avoiding sugar is impossible, however, try the following steps to try and reduce sugar loading and the severity of its effects on your health.
1) Try to buy cereals, snacks with as low sugar content as possible, eg Weetabix.
2) Instead of adding table sugar to cereals, add fresh fruit.
3) Purchase reduced sugar items, but not sugar alternatives. There are NO safe sugar alternatives. Reduced sugar is the way forwards.
4) Remove sugar, molasses, honey etc from the table, keep them out of children’s sight.
5) Snack on whole fruit rather than confectionery. Avoid fruit juices as often their vitamin levels are low, leaving behind fruit tasting sugar water.
6) Try enhancing foods with spices instead of sugar. Ginger, allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon are great alternatives.
7) If you must consume sugar…have some protein. Ingesting protein at the same sitting will help to reduce the overall “Glycemic” load of the meal. This means less of an insulin spike.
8) When you crave sugar…eat protein. Often when you crave sugar, it’s actually a sign that you require protein. Nasty trick mother nature!!!
9) Eat according to your metabolic type. As discussed in my previous articles, eating according to your body/metabolic type is the very best way too obtain optimum nutrition and to reduce cravings.
If unsure on this…ASK!
“Refined sugar is classified as a poison as it has been depleted of its vitamins and minerals”
– Paul Chek
The many ways to reduce sugar loading, it’s effects and what to do about symptoms of sugar toxicity are vast and go way beyond a short article like this.
We are simply aiming to raise awareness as most of us are genuinely unaware that sugar is not only causing a vast array of chronic diseases (see above), but on a day to day basis affects everything from our vitality, mood state and very much the quality of sleep that we enjoy.
Reducing total sugar load is every bit as good an idea as quitting smoking! It’s a great place to start with your nutritional health.
Mmm…chocolate time…everything in moderation!
Simply Aweome! : )