I did an information session recently at the Boys and Girls Club Penticton on Sugar and the Immune System. While doing my research I came across such appalling things!
Did you know that there is a World Sugar Research Organization? The information on this website made my jaw drop; I thought we knew that sugar was not great for us and that fat is not so bad (when consuming the right kind of fat in combination with a balanced diet). And this is Not the worst of it........I guess there is still a long way to go in the world of education about sugar.
The research that I did approve of were studies that looked at sugars affect on the brain. When we consume sugar or sugary foods, we release endorphins which are those feel good hormones. When this feeling goes, we are left craving more so we reach for more sweets. When researchers look at the brain after consuming sugar, the brain looks the same as when someone has used cocaine. No wonder we can't eat just one of those sweet tasty things.
The effects on blood sugar are similar. The sugary food takes our blood sugar up and, as we were told as a kid, what goes up, must come down. After the spike in blood sugar, we experience a crash which leaves us tired and potentially cranky. The fix = more sugar or simple carbohydrates to give us that quick boost we need. The long term affects of this can be the obvious, diabetes, but the affects are not limited to that disease. Sugar creates imbalances in our digestive system, immune systems, adrenal health, mental health and so much more.
So, what can you do about it? Well the simple answer is just don't eat sugar. But come on, we are all human and I would never want you or me or anyone else to feel they are living in a state of deprivation so consume with mindfulness.
When you consume a food that contains sugar, try to combine it with protein, fat or fibre which slows down the release of sugars thus decreasing the blood sugar spike. If you are craving something sweet mid-afternoon, you might be dehydrated or needing protein. Try having a protein rich snack with a vitamin C rich food or drink (not juice, try Ener-C instead). Other tricks are to take a walk, the fresh air might give you that boost of energy that you were seeking from the sugar.
Here are some facts to think about:
- Recommendations for intake of sugar is about 6-9 teaspoons. The actual amount of sugar consumption is over 30 teaspoons per day!
- Fibre, protein or fat rich foods keep us feeling full longer and sugar does not.
- Juice is sugar minus the fibre and other nutrients. A 15.2 oz bottle of apple juice contains 49 grams of sugar which is the same sugar as 10 Oreos. An apple has approximately 11 grams of sugar. I am not saying Oreaos are the best choice (there are many other less than ideal ingredients in cookies) but which would you rather have, a glass of juice or some Oreos??