On Wednesday I woke to the BBC talking about the amount of sugar and salt in cereals and whether they are infact good for us. We were told that there is up to 30% volume of sugar in many of the cereals and a nutritionist for a cereal company informed us that it is ‘important’ to have some sugar in our diet. In my opinion this is infact not the case. Sugar is not just non-nutritive, it’s anti-nutritive, and the reason for that is, that when sugar is found in real life foods and plants, like apples or berries, it comes complete with the vitamins, minerals, and enzymes needed for its complete digestion. When it is found in your sugar bowl, or in your cereal it contains nothing of any value and is pro-inflammatory. Your body actually has to borrow from its stores of nutrients in order to process it and that’s one reason sugar is considered to be an immune system depressor. It can put your white blood cells, and therefore your immune system, to sleep for hours. In order to be metabolized, sugar literally ‘eats up’ nutrients your body needs to stay healthy and so takes energy, it does not give energy.
When you eat sugar, your blood sugar rises quickly and your pancreas immediately jumps into action. It responds to the increase in blood sugar by secreting the hormone insulin, whose job, among other things, is to get that sugar out of the bloodstream quickly and deliver it to the muscle cells where it can be used for energy. That happens because if sugar hangs around the bloodstream, it ultimately does a lot of damage. The nutritionist being interviewed told us that there is nothing to prove that sugar causes obesity…..I beg to differ! Once we have sugar in our body, most of us are not using our muscle cells enough to create much of a demand for the sugar, it really doesn’t require too much sugar to power the muscles used to move the mouse on your computer, so the muscle cells eventually shut their doors. Sugar goes into fat cells, or it continues to hang out in the bloodstream and cause inflammation and other damage.
For instance the small amount of insulin needed to manage a moderate amount of sugar from a natural food, like an apple, isn’t enough to manage a diet of 900-calorie “no-fat” muffins from Starbucks. The pancreas has to put more and more insulin into the system to get the job done, and high levels of insulin create a whole other set of problems.
Insulin, for example, tells the kidneys to hold onto sodium, increasing blood pressure. High insulin levels encourage the body to store excess fat and chronically high insulin levels have also been linked to Metabolic Syndrome, an insulin resistance problem, like a kind of “pre-diabetes” which increases the risk for heart disease. And that’s just the beginning…