Did you know that the apples our great grannies ate had ¼ the amount of fructose as the apples we eat today, and that a glass of orange juice contains almost the same amount of sugar as coca cola?
It’s becoming clear that we are eating too much sugar and it’s important to note the difference between glucose and fructose. Our body needs glucose. It’s what every cell uses for energy. Every cell can metabolise glucose, while all forms of fructose have to be metabolised first in the liver.
So let’s get clear that fructose is the issue here and not sugar per se. Fructose makes us eat more and it converts directly to fat. Fructose can make us sick by inhibiting our immune system and upsetting the mineral balance in our body. It messes with fertility and speeds up ageing. Fructose has been linked to dementia and certain cancers. It can cause fatty liver, acidic digestive tract, indigestion and malabsorption. Fructose can cause a rise in adrenaline, hyperactivity anxiety and loss of concentration.
Many healthy sweeteners are very high in fructose. Did you know that table sugar is about 50% glucose and 50% fructose, and that honey is about 60% glucose and 40% fructose? A banana contains about 15%-20% sugar, over half of which is fructose and agave is 70%-90% fructose? So even though healthy foods contain many nutrients, many of us still need to reduce at our overall intake of these high sugar foods.
My favourite resources on this topic are the book I Quit Sugar which takes you through an eight-week program of eliminating sugar and That Sugar Film which is a wonderfully entertaining documentary about sugar and the effects of eating even the so called healthy sugars. This film is currently available in South Africa on Showmax and is great to watch with the whole family.
In my work with women to balance hormones, I run a program based on Dr Sara Gottfried’s 21-day protocol The Hormone Reset Diet. We eliminate all sugar, even the healthy kind to reset our insulin levels, and then we eliminate fruit to reset our leptin levels. By doing this we reset our metabolism and reduce risk of insulin resistance and diabetes. One lady in our current program has come off her diabetes medication after 10 years (with the guidance of her homeopath) and now fully understands the effects that even healthy sugar has on her body and hormones. Others found that they feel so wonderful on the program and even though they thought they were eating a healthy diet, their sugar intake was way too high. They are much more aware and will eat much less of these foods, if any.
If you are not ready for a full sugar reset and prefer to start small, here are a few tips.
*Devote a little time to hidden sugars that lurk in packaged foods like tomato sauce, mayonnaise and balsamic vinegar. Even many bottled spice rub blends contain sugar!
*Drink a fruit and vegetable smoothie instead of a juice because the smoothie has the whole fruit including its fibre which slows down sugar absorption in the body, whereas juice has had its fibre removed and so you’re drinking just the nectar.
*Dilute your fruit juice 50/50 with water as a way to cut down.
*Beware of low fat foods as they contain much more sugar than full fat foods.
*Switch to 80% or darker chocolate, and finally
*be kind to yourself through your journey to eliminate or reduce sugar.
Each of us has a different sugar threshold, and once eliminated for a period, and then re-introduced, we can learn how much sugar, if any each of our bodies can easily manage. For me, it's no processed sugar, and a small amount of fruit.