Food is essential to fuel our performance. If we do not get the fuel we need our performance suffers at a reduced level of functioning. Nowadays, people resort to eating whatever is quick, convenient and satisfying to their taste buds. Choosing to eat these types of food is making us sick and tired. We are not being mindful about what we are putting in our bodies and we are not aware that they are damaging and depriving the brain of what it really needs to perform.
A carbohydrate that is highly damaging to our health and performance is sugar. It is used in processed food and drinks in unusually high doses. For some reason in the food industry a fat-free diet means you can have a sugar-full diet. This is the same as a fat-full diet as sugar makes you gain empty calories and the body turns excess calories into fat, so fat-free food isn’t really free of fat.
Sugar isn’t inherently evil. Your body burns sugar to provide you with energy for work or play. Many healthy foods are broken down to sugar in the body, in the form of glucose. Glucose is a great energy source.
The problem is we ingest more sugar than we need to and harm our mind and body in the process. There are two main ways that excess sugar can damage your body and cause fat storage.
Excess glucose – Anytime you fill your body with more sugar than it needs, the sugar storage capacity of your liver exceeds. When the liver is full, the excess sugar is converted into fatty acids and returned to the bloodstream where it is transported throughout the body and stored as fat in adipose fat cells mainly around your stomach, hips, buttocks, and breasts.
Once these regions are full, the fatty acids begin to spill into your organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. This reduces organ functionality, raises blood pressure, decreases metabolism, and weakens the immune system.
Excess insulin – Insulin is a major hormone in the body and is released in high levels from the pancreas anytime you ingest carbohydrates. Two actions occur when insulin levels rise:
After the blood sugar level is reduced by the muscles, or if in excess, converted to fat in the liver, the feedback mechanism that tells the body to stop producing insulin kicks in. However, this mechanism is not immediate; it is delayed, so blood sugar levels fall even lower, below normal levels. This causes an immediate increase in appetite, and the production of the stress hormone cortisol due to the imbalance.
Cortisol triggers the release of stored sugar from the liver to bring blood sugar levels back up, which, combined with the meal you eat from your increased appetite, begins the entire “fat storage, metabolic decrease” process all over again.
The excessive cortisol that accumulates in the body eventually distresses your hormonal system and results in other problems, including a further decrease in metabolism, obesity, depression, allergies, immune weakness, chronic fatigue syndrome and other conditions that affect your performance.
The Make Up
The sugar we consume in food and drinks is sucrose and is made up of one unit of glucose joined to one unit of fructose. Therefore, not only are we consuming a high amount of glucose, but also consuming a high amount of fructose that is highly damaging and responsible for many undesirable effects in the body.
The average American consumes up to 28 teaspoons of added sugar per day, mostly from high fructose corn syrup and table sugar, according to the University of California, Berkeley. Australians also ingest an average of 28 teaspoons of sugar per day. Many people consume significantly more than this, putting themselves at risk for type 2 diabetes and obesity related conditions such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
The recommended amount of sugar intake for adults by The World Health Organisation is 5 percent. That is about 25 grams, or 6 teaspoons per day. To put this in perspective, a can of soft drink alone can have as many as 40 grams, or about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Every time you drink fruit juice, a smoothie, or a soft drink, it’s got sugar. Every time you have cereal or processed food, it’s got sugar. Every time you add sauce, dressing, jam, syrup, dip, or yoghurt, it’s got sugar. And if you eat out regularly or have ready-made meals, you are ingesting a lot of sugar. With all of this you have already accumulated an unhealthy amount of sugar and we have not even touched on tea, coffee, or dessert yet!
Thanks to food manufacturers we now have sugar in everything we eat. We have come to a point where if it is not sweet, we do not eat it. In this way we are filling our bodies with excess empty calories the body does not need and opening the door to a variety of illnesses, as well as crippling our performance. We need to be more mindful and learn to look past these types of food. We need to focus on food that does not come with a list of Ingredients.
Any organisation that provides sweets, candy, lollies, doughnuts, chocolates, cakes, tarts, cookies, biscuits, chips, processed food, ice-cream, frozen yoghurt, fruit juice, soft drinks, especially for free, is committing a huge disservice for their people. Another huge disservice is serving desserts and soft drinks at conferences, workshops, meetups, and the like. Healthy options are sugar and salt-free organic nuts, organic fruit, and desserts sweetened only with a small amount of organic dates (which are high in potassium).
Other than the sugary treats mentioned above, there are high amounts of sugar in fruit juice, dried fruits, honey, sauces, salad dressing, dips, syrups, icing, and so forth. Always check food labels before purchasing any food for the sugar content. For example, sugar is sneaked into bread and yoghurt, so it is crucial to check and make sure there is very little or no sugar at all.
The Silent Killer
Sugar has come to be known as the silent killer. Sugar weighs you down, decreases brain power, makes it hard for you to concentrate and focus, clouds your mind and thinking, makes you tired, and turns sugar highs to sugar crashes. It is pretty much the only reason you need coffee.
Instead of research, sugar producers and refiners are more content to spend their money on advertising and public relations, making claims about quick energy and simply rejecting suggestions that sugar is harmful to the heart, teeth, figure, or to health in general.
First, there is no physiological requirement for sugar. All human nutritional needs can be met in full without having to take a single spoon of any type of sugar. Secondly, if only a small fraction of what is already known about the effects of sugar were to be revealed in relation to any other material used as a food additive, that material would promptly be banned (Yudkin, 1972).
Once you can jump on the ‘I Quit Sugar’ bandwagon and surpass the ‘I need a sugar fix’ or feeling like ‘something sweet’ stage, you will have more:
John Yudkin was a British Professor of Nutrition who had sounded the alarm on sugar back in 1972, in his book Pure, White, and Deadly. The book did well, but Yudkin paid a high price for it. Prominent nutritionists combined with the food industry (controlled mostly by the sugar industry) destroyed his reputation, forcing major organisations to cease working with him, and his career never recovered.
It is extremely sad Yudkin’s work and research was swept under the rug back then, like a lot of things have throughout the years. Yudkin found sugar in the diet increases the amounts of the fatty substance in the blood, notably triglyceride and cholesterol. He recommended low carb diets for weight loss and warned that the consumption of sugar itself is dangerous to our health, an argument he made since 1957. Specifically, he stated that sugar consumption was a leading factor in the development of dental caries, obesity, diabetes, and coronary disease.
We now have overwhelming evidence and research that proves his work. From the late 2000’s, there was a resurgence of interest in his work, especially by the paediatric endocrinologist, Robert Lustig. Yudkin’s book Pure, White and Deadly was republished in 2012, with a foreword by Lustig. If his work was given the attention and appreciation it deserved at the time, the cluster of diseases where sugar consumption is the primary driver, could have been prevented.
It is not too late to make a difference to your health.