In the first post of this series First Wealth is Health we covered why fast foods, sugary foods and processed foods are bad for you. These foods have a high glycemic index and cause a spike in blood sugar levels and your pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin. Insulin is your body’s only storage hormone and these consistent spikes in blood sugar cause a roller coaster effect in blood sugar levels. The health effects range from weight gain and obesity to high blood pressure, heart disease and a high risk of Type 2 Diabetes. In this post we elaborate why foods high in sugar and carbohydrates are so bad for you and if consumed, should be in tiny amounts.
To be healthy, reduce weight gain and risk of chronic diseases, it’s best to consume carbohydrates that elicit the least rise in blood sugar levels, i.e. low GI. Let’s begin at the top of the GI index with C₁₂H₂₂O₁₁, the molecular formula for sucrose or as we know it sugar, the white and brown granules, so many shovel into their tea and coffee and contained in millions of food products.
Why do countless food products contain sugar? Simple, sugar is addictive. Addiction guarantees that the food companies will have endless profits as we will keep coming back for more.
To give credence to our answer, we refer to a 2007 study by Magalie Lenoir and her colleagues at the University of Bordeaux in France. They experimented on rats. Scientists use rats as models for research for various reasons since rats ‘genetic, biological and behavioural characteristics resemble humans’. Researchers can replicate symptoms of many human conditions in mice and rats.
The title of the study: Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward. The principal finding was that rats, when offered a choice between cocaine and water sweetened with sucrose (sugar) or saccharin (a calorie free sweetener) 94% of the rats chose the sweetened water. Despite increasing the cocaine dose, the rats still chose the sweetened water.
Findings concluded: Intense sweetness surpasses a cocaine reward. The bottom line – intense sweetness (sugar/saccharine) is more addictive than cocaine!
Sugar-laden diets, hyper-stimulate human sweet receptors. Stimulation generates an extraordinary reward signal, in the brain, overcoming self-control mechanisms. This leads to sugar addiction.
The dangers of sugars and alternative sweeteners, is clear. Avoiding them or consuming them in the smallest possible doses is the goal. Avoiding consumption of foods high in sugars helps minimise chances of obesity and chronic disease.
The bad guy in foods disguises himself to fool you. Knowing the bad reputation sugar has (deserved of course) food manufacturers often use alternatives with different names hoping that if you do by chance read the label, you’ll glance over the sugar content, because of unfamiliarity with the name.
An article by Johns Hopkins medicine simplifies it perfectly.
To identify added sugars, look at the ingredients list. Some major clues that an ingredient is an added sugar include:
These are some of the most widely used ingredients used by food manufacturers in foods:
Note: For those studying nutrition or human sciences, there are differences in the metabolism of certain sugars that is for a different conversation. No matter the metabolic processes, avoid sugars.
So how do you avoid these sugar dense, high-carbohydrate foods? Read the label every time you pick up a food package. It’s a habit that could save your life, literally.
Like most things when reading the food labels, you need to know a few things about the information listed on the label. We are going to make it simple for you. South Africa has legislation.
That said, there are good fats and bad fats.
Thanks for reading, it was a long post but an important one, you’re now informed and can make reading labels something you do for your lifetime, we hope you’re on-board. In the next post, in the series we will explore foods most think are healthy and don’t contain sugars, but do. We’ll discuss why on the face of it not all foods with the same name are nutritionally equivalent and how to choose the one that’s healthier for you.
At The Fields, we’re not just landlords that supply comfortable safe and affordable accommodation for students in Hatfield, Pretoria. We care about the people that support us and that’s why we will continue to post blogs that make your life as a student easier and more comfortable and help you be healthier.
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