Monday, April 26, 2010

Why & how to cut sugar and refined grains....

Today's Post: Monday, 4-26-2010

People evolved to eat plant and protein foods other than grains over hundreds of thousands of years before about 10,000 years ago and to get sugars almost exclusively from whole fruit.

Then people began to eat some refined sugar and whole grains but ate very little or no refined grains and did so at a time when almost everyone got so much walking and other physical activity to mostly overcome their effects.

Today, more than half the people in the United States eat multiple servings per day of refined grain foods and sugars. And, few people begin to get enough exercise to compensate. In fact, many people are totally sedentary. Worse, more than half still drink many soft drinks each week or even each day. These add calories and boost blood sugar too but do NOT turn down hunger at all.

This has caused many diseases because our bodies are NOT adapted to this combination.

Today, in HealthDay news I found this.:

” Health Tip: Reduce Dietary Sugar Monday, 4-26-2010 (HealthDay News)

-- Sugar is added to many foods, drinks and condiments. But too much dietary sugar can contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes and cavities.

The American Academy of Family Physicians suggests these ways to reduce dietary sugar:

Reduce the amount of baked desserts, sweets and candies that you eat.
Eat plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean types of proteins.
Drink water in place of drinks that may be laden with sugar.
Avoid eating processed foods.
Choose baking recipes that call for less sugar, cut back on sugar in recipes, or use a sugar substitute.”

Most of this is true and is good advice. But it is far too weak and has one error.

Recently, it was revealed that eating refined grains, far too much sugar, and drinking regular soft drinks are a direct cause of heart disease by causing the increase of the small particle LDL that causes heart disease. (So do eating trans fats or the hydrogenated oils that contain them. So does getting NO or too little regular exercise.)

Each of the things the American Academy of Family Physicians suggests is good except for three things.

1. Refined grains and foods made from them are as bad or even worse for you than sugar. (Their glycemic index is actually higher than sugar!)

2. People today ingest so much of the things they recommend cutting back that, they could cut back some and still be ingesting 4 or 5 times what their bodies can process. These suggestions are simply not strong enough to solve this problem.

People who want to be healthy need to also avoid refined grains and foods made from them. And, they need to eliminate these foods and soft drinks or have them two or three times a MONTH instead of two or three times a day. That’s a thirty to one reduction or more. It is NOT just a 10 or 20 % reduction.

Similarly, they understate how strongly these foods and drinks work to cause disease and how effective they are at causing obesity, high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes.

3. “Choose baking recipes that call for less sugar, cut back on sugar in recipes, or use a sugar substitute.”

This is poor advice in one way and very bad advice in another.

Here’s how it’s poor advice.

If you do have something like chocolate cake once a month and have a half sized piece besides, you’ll feel ripped off if it doesn’t taste good.

You can cut back a bit on sugar in some recipes if you add some bits of fresh fruit or nuts or chocolate chips to compensate. And, you may be able to use flavored sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, molasses, and brown sugar in slightly smaller amounts than sugar without cutting taste too much. You can also replace half the sugar with about a quarter that much agave syrup as it’s sweeter. Those strategies can work to make a version that still tastes good.

But the bottom line is that if you eat these foods very occasionally to enjoy them, cutting back so much on sugar that you don’t is not productive.

The very bad part is to suggest using “sugar substitutes.” People who eat a lot of foods made with refined grains and “sugar substitutes” have not done much at all. The refined grains still are just as bad as they were before.

And, that’s if the sugar substitutes are safe to eat. Their proponents say artificial sweeteners are safe to eat; and most people seem to not find them dramatically harmful. But some people do. And, there are reasons to suggest that the harm from them is there but too subtle to find easily.

But the HUGE problem that diet soft drinks, artificial sweeteners, and even natural but non-caloric sweeteners have is that they seem to both teach your body that sweet tastes have no calories when in fact they usually do AND to make you strongly crave real sugar to get the effect your body expected!

The result is that people who drink diet soft drinks and eat treats sweetened with these sweeteners usually tend to be just as fat and in just as bad a health status as those who get the versions with real sugar.

Lastly, these suggestions leave out that tea, green tea, coffee, and plain carbonated water often make more satisfying substitutes for soft drinks than plain water. It’s easiest to stop drinking soft drinks, I’ve found if you use several of these methods or the ones that work best for you.

I mostly drink tea, green tea, and water—and 1% lowfat milk and some grape and cranberry juice and occasional red wine. Other people might do better with chilled plain carbonated water and coffee at other times.

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