The sugar debate

There's been a lot of talk over the last few years about the amount of sugar in our diets and the consequences to our health. In this article I hope to explain the connection between the amount of sugar on our diet, and the impact on our health, including why we all need to reduce the amount of sugar in our diet, not just for us, but also for the health or our children.

Five basics tastes on the tongue!

Did you know that in the world of science there are five basic tastes on our tongues? They are: saltiness, bitterness, sweetness, sourness and umami - yes umani - named after the scientist that discovered it. Not everyone likes some of these tastes, but one thing is for sure - most people like sweetness!

Sweetness, which comes from sugar, has been around forever so why is everyone suddenly talking about it and why is it having such an effect on our health? The main reason is because we have dramatically increased the amount of sugar that we consume.

The general consensus is that sugar only comes from cakes, biscuits and fizzy drinks. So many people believe their diets are low in sugar and say they don't have a sweet tooth but, the reality is that there are only three different components (excluding water) of our diet. These are protein, fats and carbohydrates.

We have essential proteins (amino acids) and there are nine in total. We have essential fatty acids, and everyone has heard of omega 3 fatty acids. There are no essential carbohydrates, yet we are told to include them as the major component in our diet.

Carbohydrates

Let's look at our supermarket shelves, they contain mainly carbohydrates, breakfast cereals, crisps, breads, pasta and pastries to name a few. Nature provides us with plenty of carbohydrates in the form or fruits, vegetables and grains and when we eat them in their most natural state they are absorbed slowly, producing a gradual increase in blood glucose levels, which our bodies are designed to handle.

Carbohydrates that are processed get absorbed very quickly, producing an unnaturally rapid increase in blood glucose levels. Our bodies go to great lengths to control the levels of glucose in our blood, mainly because both highs and lows are harmful. A rapid increase in blood sugar levels is called hyperglycaemia, when this occurs our bodies respond by pumping out lots of insulin to deal with the excessive glucose. As a result of high insulin levels, about an hour later levels of glucose in the blood drop and this is called hypoglycaemia. When this occurs, most people reach for a coffee, chocolate bar or biscuit.

The result of this is high and low blood sugars which can result in depression, fatigue, tiredness, insomina, aggression, headaches and generally being in a bad mood. The good news is that a few simple changes in diet can greatly improve levels of sugar in the blood, as well as your health.

What The Food Nutritionist thinks

The reality is that while most people think they are consuming a healthy diet, if you are following government guidelines, as most people are, mainly because they are still consuming a diet that is high in carbohydrates, low in protein and healthy fatty acids, then you are at risk of long-term diseases. We should remember that insulin impacts on all areas of our body, including sex hormones, the brain, digestion and energy levels. If health is compromised, then a therapeutic diet, alongside medical treatment, is definitely the best way to go.

Do you have a sweet tooth? Tell me your sugar stories. 

Nutritionist Resource is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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