Friday, December 7, 2007

Hey Sweetie

Did you know that the average American consumes over 170 pounds of sugar each year? So, picture that 5 pound bag of sugar that you buy, then line up 33 more, and start rationing for the year. One year. Yikes!

Much of that sugar comes from sources that are not even considered sweet at all. The bulk of our sugar intake usually comes from starches in our diet. When you eat things like white bread, pasta, rice, potatoes and cereal, your body breaks down the starch into sucrose. When in excess, sucrose converts to adipose tissue-- yep, that's fat… in all your favorite places.

Sucrose is metabolized by your liver, thyroid, small intestine, and pancreas-- which produces insulin for absorption. The more we consume sugar, the harder these organs have to work to avoid fat build-up. When the body ends up with an abundance of adipose, the tissue actually begins to make its own hormone, called "resistin". And, true to its name, it resists the effects of insulin, forcing the pancreas to make more and more to produce the normal effect. Eventually, the body no longer responds and is considered insulin-resistant...aka Type 2 Diabetic.

Over 21 million Americans (7% of the population) have diabetes. I don't think that most people realize just what a big deal this disease is with its staggering health implications...according to the CDC, "Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness, lower-limb amputation, kidney disease and nerve damage. Two-thirds of people with diabetes die from a heart attack or stroke."

Now, please forgive the intensity; I realize that many of you will not abuse your bodies to the extent of diabetes, but this does not necessarily preclude your needed awareness. So aside from some fat build-up and the potential of life-threatening disease, there IS MORE YOU MUST KNOW before you say, “ oh, I’m skinny and fit- we’re good to go”, and keep throwing back the sweets.

Sugar also plays a large role in your mood, immunity and your body’s ability to heal itself. Because thyroid is also involved in sugar metabolism- depression, anxiety, sleep disturbance, sudden fatigue and panic attacks are common when your blood sugar is imbalanced. Bacteria thrives on sugar, so naturally fighting off infection is nearly impossible when you’ve got a bird bath for beasties in your body. If you often get sick, have skin or fungus infections, or just don’t seem to feel 100%- I’m talking to you.

So here are practical strategies for starving that sweet tooth of yours:

>Do your best to drop the obvious sugar loaded treats:
*Replace them with fruit (which is also high in sugar- but it is fructose, rather than sucrose, and does not require the same insulin blast).

>Look at your starch intake and consider substitution. First of all, a plate of veggies will always be better than a mound of carbs. But I do live in the same tempting world you do, so I will add the realistic dose:
*When it comes to starches, remember- the whiter the worse. The more you can insert whole grain and sprouted options, the less your insulin needs to spike. You will feel fuller for longer, thus reducing the need to return to the all-you-can-eat spaghetti buffet again and again.
*Seriously, if you shop intentionally, it is not that crazy to eat fresh foods and proteins for all your meals. You know, the salad over the sandwich and the smoothie rather than the cereal.

This message is brought to you with love for my fellow beings and dismay for the misery they are enduring in their ignorance of body chemistry. You have made it this far and are no longer that person- Congratulations! Now get out there and be good to yourself.


Clare Bean said...

This is so interesting. I knew I should avoid white sugar and white enriched flour, but now I know the real story. Thanks for the ponderings!

Dave Harmon said...

Jess you are so interesting and so true.. congradulation to you & Mark Remimber the Grand Canyon I had such a good time.

All the best to you & Mark.