Thursday, 15 January 2009

sugar - is it good for you?

Some interesting points from Dr Mark Hyman about sugar:

"Historically we ate the equivalent of only 20 teaspoons of sugar a year as a hunter/gatherer species, now we eat 150lbs per year per person, or about 1/2 pound each day. The average schoolboy has 34 teaspoons of sugar a day.

We evolved in a world without super grocery stores, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants. We had to work for our food and had limited access to refined foods or excess calories. In fact, our genes are pre-agricultural. We only started farming 10,000 years ago and only started refining flour about 200 years ago with the advent of the steam engine-powered flourmill.

With the advent of 15,000 low-fat foods (a/k/a high-sugar, high-calorie foods) on the market over the last 15-20 years, we have created an epidemic of increasing obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The scientific foundation for the low-fat movement was shaky from the start. Madison Avenue got ahead of medical science to the detriment of us all.

Our bodies normally produce insulin in response to food in our stomach, particularly sugar.

We once thought that insulin’s only role was to help the sugar enter the cells to be metabolized, transforming the stored energy of the sun (in plant foods) with the oxygen we breathe into the energy we use every day to run our bodies.

Here is what too much insulin really does to your body and health:

* Now we recognize insulin as a major switching station, or control hormone, for many processes. It is a major storage hormone – fat storage that is.
* Try as you may, as long as your insulin levels are high you will fight a losing battle for weight loss. It acts on your brain to increase appetite and specifically an appetite for sugar.
* It increases LDL cholesterol, lowers HDL cholesterol, raises triglycerides and increases your blood pressure. Insulin resistance causes 50% of all reported cases of high blood pressure.
* It makes your blood sticky and more likely to clot, leading to heart attacks and strokes.
* It stimulates the growth of cancer cells.
* It increases inflammation and oxidative stress and ages your brain.
* It even increases homocysteine because sugar consumption decreases B6 and folate.
* It also causes sex hormone problems and can lead to infertility, hair growth where you don’t want it, hair loss where you don’t want to lose it, acne, and low testosterone in men and more. It also leads to mood disturbances.

Balancing blood sugar and correcting insulin resistance is well within our reach.

Scientific advances of the last few decades point the way to managing this.

While there are some new medications that can help such as Glucophage, Avandia and Actos, they have side effects and are only a band-aid unless used with a comprehensive nutritional, exercise and stress management plan I describe in a moment.

My goal is to make your metabolism more efficient, to make your cells more intelligent and cooperative, not resistant. In other words, you will need much less insulin to accomplish the task of balancing your blood sugar.

While I want to tell you how to balance your stress hormones, thyroid function and all your sex hormones, and all your brain and mood chemicals that will take a few more lessons!

For now I want to show you how you can reset your metabolism of sugar and insulin by stopping the things that knock you off balance, and providing the things that put you balance in balance allowing you to thrive.

Here is what to do:

* Stop eating flour and sugar products, especially high fructose corn syrup.
* Don’t have liquid calories – your body doesn’t feel full from them so you eat more all day!
* Stop all processed, junk or packaged foods. If it doesn’t look like the food your great-great-great grandmother ate, then stay away.
* Stop eating trans or hydrogenated fats.
* Slow the rate of sugar uptake from the gut through balancing your meals (low glycemic load) with healthy protein (nuts, seeds, beans, small wild fish, organic chicken), healthy carbs (vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains) and healthy fats (olive oil, nuts and seeds, avocadoes, fish oil)
* Rough it up: eat plenty of soluble fiber (30-50 grams a day)
* Eat smaller more frequent meals
* Get an oil change: Make your cells smarter by giving them an oil change with omega-3 fats – fixing the cell membranes so that they can more readily receive the messages from insulin.
* Move your body: exercise improves your cells ability to work better, respond to insulin better and burn sugar faster.
* Relax! Stress reduction also helps improved blood sugar control!
* Make your cells smarter through increasing specific nutrients such as chromium, vanadium, magnesium, vitamin E, biotin, the B vitamins, zinc, bioflavinoids and some newer compounds including alpha lipoic acid, arginine, and carnitine.
* Herbs may also be of benefit including Panax ginseng, ginkgo biloba, green tea, fenugreek and gymnena sylvestre, bitter melon and garlic.

Just balancing this one hormone – insulin – can have wide-ranging effects on all your other hormones and brain chemicals – so just start there".

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