This edition will focus on Sugar. Sugar has been both sanctified and villainized in our society; depending on the source and agenda. I intend to clarify the pertinent facts and show the science; but please remember I only have one page to do this.
First, let’s be perfectly clear, sugar is not a health food! It is highly refined, has no protein, no vitamins, no minerals, no essential fatty acids. Sugar is empty calories that can be toxic when ingested in high doses. Let me explain. Excess sugar (including fruit juices) increases your triglycerides which increases your risk of heart disease. Excess sugar suppresses your immune system. Ever notice that cold & flu season occurs around the “candy holidays”? And, can you say tooth decay? However, science has proven sugar does not cause obesity or diabetes. The fat you eat is the fat you wear and fat leads to insulin resistance, not sugar.
There are levels of sugar consumption that are ok. Staying at or below 6 tsp/day (18 lbs/year) is not shown to confer illness and disease. Unfortunately, average sugar intake is 22 tsp/day (69 lbs/year)! As you can see from the graph, we have certainly increased the sugar we eat! Average insulin levels are 3x higher than normal. There are 56 names for sugar and 80% of our foods have sugar added. This is one very important reason to eat whole foods, not processed foods!
Let’s look at some science about artificial sweeteners: Sweet n’ Low, Splenda, and Equal. If you are consuming these thinking they will protect you from weight gain think again! Studies show increased risk for cancer, diabetes, neurological disorders, and weight gain! They actually cause what you want to prevent; weight gain! Glucose dysregulation occurs when you eat artificial sweeteners. They change the composition of your gut bacteria leading to altered glucose metabolism. This means glucose levels in your body rise higher than normal after eating and decline more slowly than normal leading to weight GAIN vs weight loss. These sweeteners also stimulate your appetite! Sugar does not.
The only natural sweetener with no negatives is Stevia. It comes from a plant, is 200-300x sweeter than table sugar and has no calories.
The experts I study under agree that “a little” sugar used so you will eat and enjoy healthy starches is perfectly ok. A little molasses in your baked beans or BBQ sauce on your potatoes is ok. A teaspoon of brown sugar on your bowl of oatmeal, a little syrup on your whole grain pancakes, or a little jam on your whole grain toast in the morning will keep you on track with fiber-filled nutrition setting you up to eat healthier all day long. Remember studies show you will eat 987 calories more during the day when you don’t start your day with fiber!
An occasional dessert (no dairy, low fat) with some form of sweetener (not artificial) is ok. We are not talking moderation! We are talking maybe once a week, birthdays, and holidays (the actual day of the holiday, not for weeks before and weeks after!)
Sugar (glucose) is meant to be eaten in the form of starches, vegetables, and fruits. These foods lead to wellness, not illness. Satisfying your natural urge for something sweet is easier after eating energy rich, fiber-filled starches. A meal full of animal flesh and fat actually increases your craving for sweets and makes it harder for you to resist!
HLW Recipe of the Month: Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Wonderful excerpt from Dr. John McDougall. “This time of year, the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holidays frighten many people who eat a healthy diet. They wonder how to socialize with friends and how to prepare a meal in their home. These two days are supposed to be the largest feasts of the year. Yet in fact, both dinners are the healthiest, most vegetarian-like, most McDougall-like meals people eat all year long. Traditionally, these holiday dinners consist of mashed white potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, a bread stuffing, butternut and acorn squash, cranberries, and a variety of green vegetables, including Brussels sprouts, carrots, cauliflower, and green beans. For dessert, pumpkin pie ends the feast. That's a cornucopia of starches and vegetables. The turkey served is the leanest of all common meats. The truth is that every other dinner consumed by Westerners all year long is far richer in fat, cholesterol, salt and sugar than is eaten at these two traditional festivals. Therefore, if you are a healthy eater you will find Thanksgiving and Christmas the two most comfortable times of the year to socialize with all of your family and friends.”
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes
3 pounds sweet potatoes
1/2 cup plant milk
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
dash sea salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
Peel, cut and cook potatoes in water on the stovetop. Drain water, add plant milk, maple syrup and seasonings. Mash with a hand masher or electric beater (do not use a food processor).
Holiday Hints: Prepare your traditional dishes without the dairy (use plant milk), cut down on the fat (bake with applesauce/other fat replacers, eliminate butter in cooking, use veggie broth/plant milk in mashed potatoes) and don’t tell anyone I bet they won’t even notice!
Your guests will be asking for “more veggies please!”
HLW Tip of the Month: You Must Exercise 4-5 Days a Week!
You have learned a great deal about how food affects your health in the LifeLong WellBeing Nutrition Class Series. You may come to the monthly Advanced Nutrition Classes to continue learning as well as for support. It’s important you also have a clear understanding of your body’s need for consistent activity and movement. If you are not exercising regularly, you will have trouble achieving your ideal weight and you will age faster! Yes, you will age faster. Remember the study showing exercise was the Fountain of Youth; turning back the clock thirty years?!
Exercising 30-60 minutes, 4-5 days a week is as non-negotiable as drinking 64 ounces of water each day.
Exercise is critical because it:
• Changes/maintains good muscle to fat ratio
• Increases metabolic rate (burn more calories at rest!)
• Improves digestion
• Increases energy
• Improves cholesterol level
• Improves sleep
• Increases muscle strength
• Strengthens bones
• Reduces depression
• Lowers blood pressure
• Boosts your immune system
• Increases endurance/stamina
• Improves mental alertness
• Increases flexibility
• Improves self-esteem
• Increases positive attitude
• “demagnetizes” your fridge
Not exercising can lead to:
• Sarcopenia (loss of lean muscle)
• Slower metabolism/excess weight
• Increased risk of cardiovascular disease
• Sluggish immune function
“The best exercise in the world is the one you’ll do & a 30 minute workout is only 2% of your day!”
You Must Exercise to Have Lifelong Wellbeing!