Sugar – The Evolutionary Dilemma

Sugar has made it’s way into the limelight recently as enemy number one. Forget salt, forget fat even, sugar is the main dietary issue of the current population. Think up the main causes of death and disastrous diseases such as obesity and diabetes which are on the rise across the entire world and sugar is most likely is to blame. Diabetes is rising at a whopping 4% globally every year! We even have an epidemic of obese 6 month olds!

I have a sweet tooth, I grew up sneaking into the kitchen, stealing chocolate bars and hiding the wrappers in a ceramic rabbit in my room. I could go without deep fried foods, I am even totally fine on a vegan diet but sugar free – what would be the point of living?? I read the book ‘Fat Chance – the Bitter Truth about Sugar’ by genius Dr Robert Lustig. Dr Lustig is an expert in the field of sugar and especially its affects in children. Lustig claims that sugar is a toxin in our modern day bodies. So imagine how torn I was to read that sugar is an addictive poison in our bodies and we should only have one dessert a week if any.

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my reaction to Dr Lustig

Ok, I still have a cheeky piece of chocolate every other day and the occasional slice of cake but the information I came across radically altered the way I looked at sweet foods.

So what exactly is sugar?

Sugar is a short chain carbohydrate meaning it is easy for the body to absorb. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars at different rates depending on their structure. White processed carbs are quickly broken down into sugars which is why the carb-free diet is popular. Complex carbs such as seeded rye bread or brown rice are broken down slowly so our bodies get a steady stream of sugar into the blood stream.

However there are different types of sugar. Fructose is found in fruit and can be manufactured really really cheaply into high fructose corn syrup. For this reason it has found its way into all processed foods! The real issue is how the body deals with fructose, I’ll come onto that later.

Important note – sugar is sugar no matter if it’s honey, natural fruit sugar or high fructose corn syrup. For years I felt healthy spooning honey into my tea or adding blended dates to cakes but it is still sugar. By all means treat yourself occasionally and make it a choice higher in vitamins, minerals and fiber but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you’re being healthy! Another example is innocent (innocent!) smoothies or other fruit juices, they are from natural sources sure, with lots of vitamins yes but still terrible for you. Did you know orange juice is worse for you than cocoa cola per glass? Eat the fruit, don’t drink the juice. When we eat fruit the fiber counteracts the blood sugar spike.

innocent_smoothies

Why is sugar so bad for us?

Evolution has gone wrong! So sugar used to be a rare and heavenly substance that would be converted into an emergency store to use in stressful situations which back in cavemen times usually meant lack of food or possibly fighting or running away. We are programmed to find and eat sugar in times of stress so we are prepared for hard times. Unfortunately most of us are living in continuously stressful environments with food a plenty and very little exercise. We have all been there – comfort eating.

bridget-jones

Sugar is not just an empty calorie. Up until recently sugar was thought of as bad because of tooth decay and high calories with little nutrition. However due to new research it has been found that sugar is damaging our entire body through how it is converted and our hormonal responses.

When we eat fructose (which has hugely risen recently) our liver converts it into fat. This can lead to Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) which is beginning to surpass alcoholic liver disease as a leading cause of liver failure. Fructose can have just as bad an affect on your liver as alcohol! On top of this insulin our hormone to control blood sugar level doesn’t recognise fructose since it is only recently been found in high doses. This can lead to type 2 diabetes and maybe even cancer.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, fructose stops us from feeling full. Our ‘I’m full’ hormone leptin is usually triggered by insulin which doesn’t respond to fructose. We are all eating more than ever before across the globe and it is because our biochemistry has been messed up by addictive sugar.  So please if you’re going to have something sweet do it between meals when you’re not hungry.

In conclusion, sugar damages the liver, leads to type 2 diabetes, may lead to cancer, stops us from feeling full and keeps us eating more and more.

Burger und Cola

Ready for a conspiracy ..?

It is even believed that the governments across the world are keeping the deadly affects of sugar quiet because they make so much money from the sugar industry. Sugar companies backed a huge study to show that fat was the bad guy in the 60s which led to low fat products. Low fat needed to make up for the lack of taste in the fat so it added more sugar. BOOM! There was the starting point of escalating sugar troubles.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ve found this insightfull. I highly recommend watching Dr Lustig’s YouTube video on sugar for more information. If you want any help or guidance in controlling your sugar intake or any other dietary issues send me a message. I am a nutritionist accredited with the British Nutrition Council and love studying food and its affects on our complex bodies.

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