I have never met someone who has claimed to have a high sugar diet and be in perfectly good health. This is because high sugar intake is closely linked with many chronic health conditions. It’s amazing how many times I have put my clients on low sugar eating regimes and in a matter of weeks, if not days, their presenting complaints have improved dramatically.
So exactly what is sugar doing in the body which is setting off all these health concerns? Let me explain…
Added sugar in the diet (mostly table sugar known as sucrose) usually needs to be broken down before entering the bloodstream into two simple sugars. These are:
- glucose: found in every living cell in the body. If we don’t ingest it, our bodies produce it, and
- fructose: our bodies do not produce this is large amounts and physiologically we don’t require it.
The problem here is that fructose can only be metabolized by the liver in certain amounts. If little fructose is eaten (such as a piece of fruit) then the liver has no problem in converting fructose into glycogen and storing it in the liver. However if the liver is full of glycogen (which is mostly the case) then fructose will be converted to fat. This can further cause physiological processes in our body to be affected such as:
- hormone signalling: causing conditions such as insulin resistance
- elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels
- leptin resistance (the hormone that tells your brain you’re full and whether to burn excess fat): causing you to gain weight and feel sluggish
- systemic INFLAMMATION: causing a multitude of complicated and chronic health conditions to arise
So what are my tips when it comes to sugars and what alternatives should you choose?
- Avoid high amounts of processed sugary food: these all usually contain sugar from high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is very detrimental to health due to its chemical make up and is far worse for our health than sucrose (table sugar). It is highly toxic and is mostly found in canned fruits, baked goods, carbonated drinks, dairy products and most sweetened beverages. Keep away!!!
- Fruit is ok (in moderation): even though fruit contains fructose, it also contains other nutrients that are important to health. Don’t over-do it but choose fruits high in anti-oxidants (such as berries) to get the full benefit of fruit consumption
- Agave is not the best alternative: even though there is a hype about agave being a natural sugar, not only does contains roughly 80% fructose, but the end product far from the natural agave plant
- Honey (yes I am a fan): even though it contains roughly 53% fructose, in its raw form (always purchase raw honey) has many health benefits. Again consume this in moderation.
- Brown rice malt syrup (my favourite): this is made from fermented brown rice, containing soluble complex carbohydrates, maltose (two glucose molecules bound together) and glucose. It has a low glycaemic index which means that it will slowly be released into your blood stream and will not give you a sugar rush. It’s rich in minerals and vitamins and is gluten and fructose free, being my sweetener of choice.
Next time you put a bit of sugar in your mouth or baking your favorite treat, have a think about the sugar used and it’s effects on your body. It could be causing you more harm than you think.
* Disclaimer: My posts are not to be used to treat or diagnose health concerns and provided as information only. They should not be used as individualised treatment plans and programs. Contact your health professional to investigate what advice is best for you.