The average person consumes a lot more sugar than they think because many foods and drinks may not have obvious sugars, but they can have hidden sugars which add to our total sugar intake each day.
The main sources of sugar include sweets, chocolates, sodas and cooldrinks, flavored yoghurts, cereals, cakes, and biscuits. Hidden sugars can be present in tomato sauce and other condiments, soups, breads, and processed meats.
A high sugar intake not only puts us at risk for diabetes, but it also impacts heart health and general inflammation in the body. High amounts of sugar put pressure on liver function because sugars are metabolized in the same way as alcohol. The liver also converts sugars and carbohydrates into fat which can result in fatty liver disease due to excess fat storage.
When we consume sugar in the form of sugary drinks the body mistakenly turns off its appetite control system because it does not register liquid calories as sufficiently satisfying which then leads to a higher demand for calories from solid foods and ultimately the result is weight gain.
Likewise, artificial sweeteners are not ideal replacements because they trigger the release of insulin causing your body to store fat. This means that you may still gain weight despite an apparent reduction in calories. Sweeteners may not impact your blood sugar immediately which is why they may be a tempting alternative, but they still send signals to the brain which ultimately keep you craving sugars and unable to break the habit.
This is not a category that everyone needs to avoid, but with so many inflammatory conditions, autoimmune diseases, and irritable bowel symptoms around I believe it’s one that most people will do well to avoid or certainly minimize.
Gluten is a family of proteins found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley and is the component that causes flour to be sticky or gluey. This is what makes dough elastic, enables bread to rise, and gives bread it’s appealing texture.
People with celiac disease must avoid all gluten containing foods, but many other non-celiac people can also develop intolerances or a sensitivity to gluten grains which can cause them to experience unpleasant symptoms.
Refined carbohydrates come in the form of white flour, pastries, white rice, white bread, pasta, cereals, sweets, cakes, and cookies. The problem with refined carbohydrates is that they have been stripped of fiber, minerals, and vitamins so they provide very little nutritional value but are high in empty calories.
Due to the lower fiber content, refined carbohydrates have a higher glycemic index which means they break down into sugars more quickly causing spikes and dips in our blood sugar levels when we eat them. This can make blood sugar control more difficult and can cause cravings for more of the same to try and keep ourselves feeling stable.
Processed foods are usually contain high levels of sodium (salt) and unhealthy fats. Preservatives and chemicals are often used to increase their shelf-life and make these foods stable. They very often have colorants and flavorants to enhance their visual appeal as well as their taste.
Consuming large amounts of processed foods increases the risk for metabolic disorders such as obesity and diabetes as well as heart disease and cerebrovascular disease such as strokes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Highly processed foods alter a person’s glycemic response and they interfere with satiety signals meaning that they don’t feel full and their metabolism can be impaired.
Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 20 January 2022 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am