Oh Boy, Not Again!!

Dear all,

The last thing I wanted to write about again was… SUGAR!

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I have already reviewed “That Sugar Film” in one of my latest posts and since the release of the movie, have stumbled upon tons of face book posts related to sugar. And I got the feeling that slowly we are all waking up to the reality of what sugar does to our bodies.

But I had an experience yesterday that I just had to address on my blog. Our son was having a sleepover at a friends house in honor of his mate’s birthday. The boys mother was kind enough to ask whether her son’s guests had any food allergies, diet preferences etc. I was very happy knowing that Ben would be in caring hands. My husband dropped Ben off last afternoon and told me the following story. One of the other moms asked the hostess to make sure her son would finish off a large bottle of Gatorade throughout the afternoon. According to her whenever her son gets hungry, it is imperative to feed him immediately otherwise he could turn pale and sometimes even faint (!!!). Therefore the Gatorade bottle- which will keep his body from collapsing….hm, this solution does seems somewhat strange to me.

Are you as shocked as I am by that story?? I was quite upset hearing that an otherwise normal kid faints! This should definitely not happen and one has to find out what is going on. What strikes me is that the parents are intelligent, caring people who try to raise their kids to their best knowledge. So obviously, still a lot of people are in the dark when it comes to foods- especially sweet foods.

Why does a kid faint when not being fed right away? Why is this kid not just hungry for a little while but faints?

First of all, any serious underlying cause needs to be ruled out. I assume this has been done and this kid is suffering from severe HYPOGLYCEMIA. What? Why would anyone have a problem with low blood sugar in a country were sugary foods are available everywhere? Ironically, it is because of those sweet foods that hypoglycemia is rampant.

Although hypoglycaemia is often referred to as a low blood sugar level, a more precise definition is low energy production and low glucose in the cells. The symptoms can be caused not only by low glucose in the blood, but also by any number of imbalances that affect the body’s ability to burn glucose at the cellular level.

Let’s take a quick look at the metabolism of glucose.

To get blood sugar levels down, the pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin.
The liver, under the influence of insulin stores the excess sugar as glycogen. Later, when the body needs more sugar, the adrenals stimulate the liver to convert glycogen back into glucose. Thus, the pancreas reduces high blood sugar levels, while the adrenals increase sugar levels when they get low. Together, these glands strive to maintain a balanced blood sugar level.

Refined sugars taken throughout the day put a great deal of stress on the liver, pancreas and adrenals. If the adrenals are fatigued or the liver is not storing adequate reserves of glycogen, then sugar levels will begin to fall as rapidly as they rose. So, about two hours later people have to have a snack break with more sugar to get their blood sugar back up again. This pattern continues throughout the day.

This rise and fall of blood sugar levels causes energy & mood swings and other symptoms.

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Most symptoms of hypoglycemia involve the central nervous system.  The brain is completely dependent upon circulating glucose as a fuel.  It has no way to store glucose, as do the muscles and perhaps other tissues. Common symptoms include: fatigue, anxiety, confusion, tremors, irritability, fainting (there we have it!), headache, hunger, and even psychosis and other behavioural abnormalities. Many other symptoms may occur due to sugar starvation of various organs and tissues of the body. Other symptoms range from generalized fatigue, weight loss or weight gain due to fat deposition, especially in the belly.

What will happen if the sugar rollercoaster keeps going on and on and on…??

Over time, insulin excess creates a condition called insulin resistance. This is when the body tissues become less sensitive to the effects of insulin. This occurs partly because the tissue cells cannot “regulate” or reabsorb some of their insulin receptors in response to the constant flood of insulin.
Cursed with fewer insulin receptors, your cells become “resistant” to the signal delivered by insulin, resulting in a loss of insulin’s ability to lower blood sugar.

Eventually, a person with insulin resistance develops both high levels of insulin and high levels of blood sugar. In the final stage, the pancreas may eventually wear out, leading to insulin-dependent DIABETES.

To stop the sugar rollercoaster is very easy (but the withdrawal symptoms might take a few weeks) :

  • Avoid sugar rollercoasters altogether. Stay away from any kind of refined sugar or processed foods.
  • Stick to foods with a low glycemic index (GI). A lowGI food will release glucose more slowly and steadily, which leads to more suitable postprandial (after meal) blood glucose readings and will therefore make sure that enough energy is available for the body over a long period of time.

Choose complex carbohydrates that are rich in fibre such as wholegrain breads and pasta, brown rice, whole oats and quinoa. These foods slow the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream, avoiding the sharp spike in blood sugar levels. And make sure to steer clear of refined ‘white’ carbohydrates such as white bread, cakes, cookies, sugary breakfast cereal. These foods will only give you a short pick-me-up, before the sugar crash sets in. And will likely leave you craving more sweet things.

Here are some examples of healthy, balanced, whole food recipes to escape the sugar rollercoaster, all of which you can find in my recipe section:

Ideas for breakfast: Quinoa flakes with berries, oatmeal with bananas and nuts, oat banana pancakes, tofu scramble.

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Snack ideas: chia pudding with fruits, veggie sticks with dips, unsweetened apple sauce with oat date cookies, fresh fruit, edamame & crispy seaweed squares, whole wheat muffins, quinoa blueberry cake, almond butter banana wraps, smoothies.

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Lunch ideas: veggies sandwiches or wraps with homemade dairy free cream cheese, vietnamese rolls, wraps.

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Dinner: large salad as appetizer followed by whole grains, vegetables, tofu etc. basically, you can choose every recipe from the “Mains” section.

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Here is a little information on the history and the ingredients of Gatorade, which was once called “Gater-aid”. The original sports drink Gatorade was developed in 1965 by researchers at the University of Florida for their football team (the “Gators”). It was designed to replenish the body fluids and electrolytes players lost during the course of a strenuous game. It was made with natural ingredients, such as sea salt and natural sweeteners and tasted AWEFUL. In 1967 Gatorade was sold as a commercial product and to make it more palatable, high amounts of sugars were added to it. Nowadays, Gatorade belongs to Pepsi Cola and contains the following sugars and sweeteners: high fructose corn syrup, sucrose syrup, sucralose and acesulfame potassium. Acesulfame potassium is an artificial sweetener which also provides potassium. On the list of ingredients, sugar comes right after water. One 250ml drink contains between 6g and 23g of sugar, which is the equivalent of 1 heaping teaspoon of sugar and  6tsp of sugar (1 tsp sugar = 4 g). Funny enough (actually, not funny at all), this “sports drink” is now mostly consumed by children and teenagers… not while working out…

You think you need a fancy sports drink when working out? Well, according to numerous studies, if your workout lasts less than one hour, plain water is the best option to hydrate your body. For longer, more intense workouts, check out special pre/ during/ after replenishing and recovery recipes by top plant- based athletes like Brendan Brazier.

Cheers,

Ursula

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