nutrition and health

Monitor sugar intake

We have been talking about obesity, body set weight and insulin. One of the common food element we talk about is sugar. We all know that reduction in sugar intake ought to weight loss. Sugar stimulates insulin secretion, but it is far more sinister than that. Sugar is particularly fattening because it increases insulin both immediately and over the long term, and we know that persistent raise in insulin leads to further insulin resistance.

Sugar in food and fruit

Sugar in food

Sugar in food and drinks come in various forms. It is comprised of equal amounts of glucose and fructose. Glucose causes direct increase in blood insulin level but fructose metabolism occurs in liver. Excessive fructose puts significant pressure on the liver since other organs cannot help. It is the difference between pressing down with a hammer and pressing down with a needle point. Excess fructose changes into fat and can cause fatty lever.

Sugar in fruits

Natural sugar in fruits is fructose. Fructose is only harmful when consumed in excess amounts and not when it comes from fruit.  Naturally occurring and added sugar are distinct from one another. The two key differences between them are amount and concentration. It would be incredibly difficult to consume excessive amounts of fructose by eating whole fruits. But extracted sugars are concentrated in glucose and fructose, hence you can consume them in excess without even noticing.

Points to know before monitoring sugar intake

Obviously, first you should remove your sugar bowl from the table.  Sugars are often hidden in the preparation of food, which means that avoiding sugar is often difficult and you can ingest a surprisingly large amount without knowing it. 

Let me help you with that;

Read the label

Sugar is not labelled as such in refined and processed food. Other names include sucrose, glucose, fructose, maltose, dextrose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, honey, invert sugar, cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, rice/corn/cane/maple/malt/golden/palm syrup etc. These aliases attempt to conceal the presence of large amounts of added sugar.

The addition of sugar to processed foods provides almost magical flavor-enhancing properties at virtually no cost. The bottom line is this; if it comes in a package, it probably contains added sugar.

Desserts and sugar intake monitoring

Desserts are mostly sugar with complementary flavors added. So, what can you do about dessert? Follow the example of traditional societies. The best desserts are fresh seasonal fruits. The bowl of seasonal fruits with whipped cream is delicious way to end the meal.

Dark chocolate with more than 70% cocoa, in moderation, is surprisingly healthy treat. The chocolate itself is made from cocoa beans and does not naturally contain sugar. Dark chocolate also contain significant amount of fiber and antioxidants. It may help to reduce blood pressure, insulin resistance and heart disease but remember “in moderation”.

Nuts, in moderation, are another good choice for an after-dinner indulgence. Most nuts are full of monounsaturated fats, have little or no carbohydrates and are also high in fiber.

 Be aware, though, that if your goal is weight loss, your first major step must be to severely restrict sugar. Don’t replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, as they also raise insulin as much as sugar and are equally prone to cause obesity. 

Stop snacking

The healthy snack is one of the greatest weight-loss deceptions. The myth that “grazing is healthy” has attained legendary status. If we were meant to “graze” we would be cows.  Most snacks contain prodigious amounts of refined flour and sugar. Even if you consume “non sugary” items, those may also raise the insulin level in blood. Just don’t eat all the time. It will lead to reduction in sugar consumption and will prevent from persistent raised insulin level. That is the main villain to cause obesity.

Make breakfast optional

Breakfast is most controversial meal of the day. The advice is to eat something, anything, as soon as you step out of bed is often heard. But breakfast needs to be downgraded from “most important” meal of the day to “meal”.  Breakfast cereals, particularly those target children, are among the worst offenders. In the diets of children under age eight, breakfast cereals rank behind only candy, cookies, ice cream and sugared drinks as a source of dietary sugar. A simple rule to follow is this: don’t eat sugared breakfast cereal.

Traditional and Greek yogurts are nutritious foods. However, commercial yogurts are made with large amount of added sugars and fruit flavorings.

Avoid instant oatmeal. It is heavily processed and refined, which allows for instant cooking, and it contains large amount of added sugars and flavors. Quaker’s flavored instant oatmeal may contain up to three teaspoon of sugar per serving.

Eat eggs because they are delicious, whole and unprocessed foods. So, if you are not hungry, don’t eat anything at all. If you want to eat choose mindfully homemade breakfasts.

Beverages: No sugar added

The sugar-sweetened drink is one of the leading sources of added sugar. This includes all soda pop, sugar-sweetened teas, fruit juice, fruit punch, vitamin water, smoothies, shakes, lemonade, chocolate or flavored milk, iced coffee drinks and energy drinks. Trendy alcoholic drinks add significant amounts of sugar to your diet. Moderate consumption of red wine does not raise insulin or insulin sensitivity, and therefore may be enjoyed.

So what is left to drink? The best drink is really just plain or sparkling water. Slices of lemon, orange and cucumber are a refreshing addition.

Coffee: Healthier than we thought

Due to its high caffeine content, coffee is sometimes considered unhealthy. However, recent research has come to the opposite conclusion, perhaps due to the fact that coffee is major source of antioxidants, magnesium, lignans chlorogenic acid. Coffee may guard against the neurologic diseases Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, liver cirrhosis and liver cancer.

A word of caution here: while these correlation studies are suggestive, they are not proof of benefit. However, they suggest that coffee may not be as harmful as we imagined.

Tea time, any time  

After water, tea is the most popular beverage in the world. There are several basic tea varieties. Black tea tends to be higher in caffeine than other varieties. Green tea is naturally much lower in caffeine than coffee, making the drink ideal for those who are sensitive to caffeine’s stimulant effect. All teas may be enjoyed both as hot or cold beverages. Polyphenols in tea are believed to boost metabolism, which may aid in fat burning. Enjoy tea in moderation without adding sugar.

About the author

Anju Rai Tiwary

Hi, I am a physiotherapist specialized in neurology. I have also done various certification courses like autism spectrum disorder and weight management. I am here to clarify your health-related curiosities.

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