Understanding Sugar Part 2 – Living with Sugar

Posted on November 5, 2013 · Posted in Uncategorized

Living With Sugar

Lets face facts here, we live with sugar, it’s everywhere and there is alot of coverage on the news about sugar and health at the moment but to ask someone to avoid sugar completely is unrealistic. We all love a piece of Toblerone every now and again- and not the crappy little ones, the giant ones from the airport! But to have it in your diet on a daily basis is a gauranteed way to increase your risk of high blood pressure, insulin resistance, weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. You need to know the unhealthy sugars and the healthy sugars if you want to make a serious impact on your health, remember there’s not one type of sugar there’s 5, maltose, sucrose, lactose, glucose and fructose. Glucose is the one we should be leaning toward. As mentioned in Understanding Sugar Part 1 soft drinks companies are now creating low sugar products, coke zero for instance, to give the impression that “diet or zero” labelled fizzy drinks have no substances that can have ill effects on our health. Artificial sweeteners, their solution to replacing sucrose, come with a whole new host of problems so BEWARE!

The Good- Brown rice, oats, sweet potatoes, rye sourdough bread, wholewheat pasta, all fruits, all vegetables, homemade fruit and vegetable juices. These foods will be digested slowly, providing a steady stream of glucose and nutrients for the body to use.

The Bad- White bread, white pasta, white rice, potatoes. These foods usually have no sucrose (although in the U.S. they tend to put high fructose corn syrup in their bread to extend shelf life) but have their bran layers stripped away, the bran contains the grains nutrients and fibre. These will be digested very quickly cuasing a cascade of glucose to enter the blood stream thus overworking the pancreas and adrenals while providing zero nourishment.

The Ugly- Fizzy drinks (all of them), cartons of juice (all of them), sweets, biscuits, white sugar, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, chocolate (although 80% plus dark chocolate can have some benefits eaten daily still doesn’t make it healthy). These contain zero nourishment and will tax the body when eaten. If eaten on a daily basis expect type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. They should be used as a treat- twice a week maximum.


The information in Understanding Sugar Part 1 on fructose can cause some confusion amongst a misinformed public and some trainers and gyms are also encouraging long term nutrition plans that advise clients to stay away from fruit sugars altogether, giving the impression that fruit is bad for you.  As people, we’re designed to seek a bit of sweetness in the diet mainly because when a food provides that sweet taste there tends to be an abundance of Vitamin C in the food- namely fruits. Vitamin C is important for adrenal health, antioxidant action in the body and tissue growth and repair. Humans are some of the few species on the planet that can’t produce our own Vitamin C so we need to source it from food. Here are some lesser known facts about Vitamin C:

–          Decreased Vitamin C can lead to increased blood pressure

–          Men deficient in vitamin C had 3-5 times more heart attacks than men who were not deficient

–          Vitamin C influences the release of growth hormone

Fruits contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals and phyto-nutrients that have been linked to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Yes, there is a naturally occurring sugar called fructose that can cause alot of health problems, in its processed form, but fortunately wherever there’s fructose in nature there’s way more fibre. In other words, when G-d made the poison he packaged it with the antidote! Going back to Lustig’s presentation, “Sugar: The Bitter Truth,” he shows us how fibre helps the body to deal with sugars.


-Reduces the rate of intestinal carbohydrate absorption, thus reducing insulin response(helping to avoid a bloodsugar rollercoaster)

– Increases speed of transit of intestinal contents to the ileum to raise PYY 3-36 (a short peptide released by cells in the ileum and colon that apperars to reduce appetite) and induce saiety(a feeling of fullness)

– Inhibits absorption of some free fatty acids to the colon, which are metabolised by some colonic bacteria to short chain fatty acids, which supress insulin.


With regard to fibre we have many clients asking if homemade juices are bad for their health because juicing strips the fibre out from the fruits and vegetables. The answer is always No- store bought juices are terrible but don’t misinterpret this information and assume all juices are bad. If you have a juicer at home and juice your own fruits and vegetables this is one of the healthiest things you can do. A celery, cucumber, apple and lime juice made in your kitchen and drank within minutes will give you a huge amount of vitamins and minerals compared to a carton of tropicana that has been sitting on the shelf for 6 weeks. Yes, you’ll loose the fibre but if you only use a small amount of fruit, just enough to give the juice a bit of sweetness  the benefits are astounding. You can also take a spoonful of healthy fats like Udo’s oil which will help slow down digestion or add psylium husks(a high fibre supplement) to the juice if you’re still concerned.


So how do we live with sugar? Treat it like alcohol! A couple of glasses wine or a couple of pints at the weekend is probably quite reserved by Irelands standards but is a healthy relationship with alcohol- not dependant, habitual or binging. Sugar should be treated the same.We should really manage both ourselves and our families sugar consumption, certainly we need to accept the responsibility for the negative impact sugar and sweeteners have on our bodies- increased risk of cancer, learning difficulties and hyperactivity amongst chuldren, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and  obesity. For example, with every households sweet press we need to ask ourselves this question ,”Are these really for our children or are they for us?” As adults and role models for our children and the younger generation we need to cop on! There’s no need for a “sweet press” to be in the house, why not keep the sugary treats for the kids for when they go to the grandparents, birthday parties and the cinema. It’s about being flexible- once to twice weekly and in small amounts. We also have to accept responsibility that in todays world with 2 parents working  we don’t get to spend as much time with our kids so sometimes it’s just easier to give them what they want-  sweets, biscuits and processed foods.Parents need to take responsibility,  make the tough decisions and say No. It’s okay to say no to your kids when they ask for treats so rather than spoiling them with processsed foods and sugar give them an alternative with nice colourful healthy fruits- put a bowl of mixed berries on the table instead, you’ll be surprised how quickly they’ll disappear.

We all innately know what’s good for us and what’s bad but it’s up to you to make the healthy choices, we need to stop fooling ourselves by seeking nutrition gurus, looking at food labels, buying 6 different diet books, watching weight loss programs for inspiration and start using our own discretion- stop passing the onus onto everybody else and make the hard choices. Good health is the sum of the small choices you make on a daily basis, it’s time to start making responsible choices. Don’t live in a bubble and deprive yourself but do stay away from the bad and the ugly Monday to Friday. If you’ve a christening to go to, an office party, birthday party or if it’s just a Saturday evening in with a dvd get a small tub of Ben and Jerriesand enjoy! But do be careful you don’t adopt a binging attitute to sugar like we do with alcohol. Self-responsibility is paramount when it comes to what we eat and we must start to make more conscious decisions with the foods we choose for ourselves and our families.

“Sugars” or carbohydrates are not all created equally and the solution to long term good health is in whole foods. Oats, Wholegrain brown rice, sweet potato, fruits and vegetables are all healthier carbohydrates, instead of being directly absorbed and causing an emergency cascade of hormones to the bloodstream they’re digested slower and provide our bodies with vitamins and minerals to use as building blocks for health. Watch your portion size with brown rice, oats and sweet potato if you’re trying to loose weight and try to have them with vegetables and a source of protein. When we strip out the processed sugar our bodies can then start to use the stored energy in the bum, hips, thighs and breasts where we will see a reduction in skinfold measurements and circumference of these areas- provided the body is being trained correctly. If nutrition and exercise is not used as intervention when these inactive areas become full Dufty states, “ Excess sugar eventually affects every organ in the body. When these comparatively harmless places are completely filled, fatty acids are then distributed among active organs, such as the heart and kidneys. These begin to slow down, finally their tissues degenerate and turn to fat.”



Sugar/Sucrose is derived fromthe sugar cane. It has zero nourishment, it is not food, it doesn’t even have “empty calories” it has “destructive calories” that will leech and drain your organs. Treat it with caution, much like you would alcohol, small portions once or twice a week.

Fructose is fruit sugar, in its processed form which is added to fizzy drinks it is not food. But when eaten as nature intended as a whole fruit it is perfectly healthy. When consumed in its processed form in fizzy drinls, sweets, biscuits, bread, cakes, store bought juices it contains “destructive calories.” Only consume fructose as whole fruits or homemade vegetable and fruit juices.

Glucose is used by the body to generate energy, good sources are sweet potato, wholegrain rice, wholegrain pasta, some breads like rye sourdough and oats. You will get some glucose from fruits too as fructose is half glucose half fructose.

Beware of the artificial sweeteners – advertising no added sugar.