Let’s talk today about sugar! This month I would like to discuss this essential dietary issue and dispel some old myths about nutrition and sugar.
We will begin by looking at our ancestors. Mark Sisson, an author who was one of the first to begin throwing out red flags about excess glucose (sugar), looks at these things from an evolutionary standpoint. He explains that we evolved from a time where the only true carbohydrate sources were locked into a “very fibrous matrix”. In other words, the sources of sugar we were eating were bound tightly into the whole berries, sweet roots or the shoots of certain plants. We were getting the fiber and the anti-oxidants, as well as the carbohydrates (e.g. sugars). He states that we probably only ate about 80 grams of carbohydrates per day.
Fast forward to present day- Sugar is incredibly abundant and in many forms that are stripped of their original source and devoid of their naturally occurring nutrients. The Washington Post reported that Americans, on average, consume more than 126 grams of sugar per day!
Facts like this prompted the American Heart Association to acknowledge that too much sugar is detrimental to one’s health, that we do not need sugar to function properly and they suggest no more than 24 to 36 grams of added sugar per day for women and men, respectively. For most of recent history the AHA were the big pushers of lowering fat intake, now as the paradigm about fats and sugars is changing several health organizations are noticing.
In fact, the World Health Organization guidelines for sugar consumption conclude through meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in adults that there is an association between reducing the intake of free sugars and reduced body weight.
So, we as humans like sugar, but excess sugar is bad for us. Then where do we begin a healthy relationship with sugar and carbohydrates in general? Let’s start in the morning:
Don’t begin any day of digestion with just carbohydrates. Instead try some fat and a little bit of protein if needed. You can add healthy fat to your breakfast in many ways. I love cooking a couple eggs in coconut oil and adding coconut oil to my coffee. You can also add things like chia seeds to a whole fat or Greek yogurt for an extra boost.
Things to avoid would be toast or cereal for example. That afternoon crash that many of us experience is often a response to those first things we eat in the morning and when we start our day with carbs this crash is much more likely. It takes much more effort for the body to break down fats, and this leads to fewer blood sugar spikes, which leads to fewer mood swings, energy dips, reliance on carbs and more smiles at 3 pm!
Next month we will continue this discussion on sugar. We will talk about how it moves through the body and how that relates to diabetes. If you have any questions in the meantime feel free to ask about them at your next appointment. As always, you can schedule at (612) 562-6694.
Written by: Mitchell Rasmussen, Functional Movement Specialist
Edited by: Hannah Steinmetz, D.C.