Naturopathic Nutrition: My barrage on Sugar (Part 2)

my barrage on sugar

With recent documentaries like Fed Up and Professor Lustig’s lecture, Sugar: the Bitter Truth (and of course my article in the last edition of NewsFour!), the spotlight is now on the dangers of eating a high sugar diet.

Sugar has quite an effect on our brain chemistry – it hits a sweet spot in our brain called the Hedonic System, a part of the brain associated with pleasure and reward, which leads to excessive consumption driven by pleasure, not by energy deprivation.

Scientists toil for hours in laboratories trying to create the perfect palatable and addictive taste, and they have found it: fat and sugar together – a combination which funnily enough does not exist naturally in any food source. Think doughnuts, McDonald’s, ice-cream, chocolate, cake.

This taste combination is said to be our ultimate preferred taste; it stimulates our Hedonic System like nothing else. This, as it turns out, is the ultimate high – no cocaine necessary, no heroin required, it has absolutely no nutritional or caloric value – it just makes us feel damn good.

It is important to learn to identify sugar in food labels – the food industry has created many confusing and misleading guises. High Fructose Corn Syrup, Fruit Juice Concentrate, Glucose, Maltose, Dextrose, Sucrose, Polydextrose, Dextrin, Sucanant, Sorbitol and Aspartame (Phenylalanine) are to name but a few (there are over 100 pseudonyms for sugar).

Try bringing a few natural alternatives into your diet that are much less likely to feed a habit – Agave Syrup, Beetroot, Carrots, Molasses, Maple Syrup, Honey, Xylitol and Coconut Sugar.

It is also important to recognise that there are different types of sugars, those that occur naturally in foods and those that are processed, refined or created in a lab. They have markedly different reactions in our body as regards how they are processed and how we crave them. For example, you may love the taste of fresh, ripe raspberries but probably don’t crave them as such. A craving for sugar on the other hand may be enough to drive you out to find a 24-hour shop at 10pm.

We are getting fatter and sicker, so something is wrong, and I suspect sugar is a big part of the problem. These man-made substances are always going to cause trouble. Our genetic pool has not changed, our environment has – our readily available food supply has become adulterated.

Ask yourself what are you mostly eating for, pleasure or survival? It is critical that we enjoy the food that we are eating, but feeding a habit rather than what our bodies require is an entirely different matter.

Nicky is a Naturopathic Nutritionist practising in Dublin. She writes, speaks and advises nationwide on all aspects of health, nutrition and wellbeing. Check for further info, upcoming courses and workshops.
By Nicky Flood