Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Sweet But Deadly Poison

Eighty years ago, my Scottish grandmother was advised by a naturopath to avoid refined sugar if she wanted to live a long and healthy life. In his view, it was a sweet but deadly poison. My own mother, as a consequence was raised on a whole, mostly raw food diet. Mum, Dad my sister and I ate the same, so I grew up with a solid understanding that sugar was bad for me. 
About the same time that my grandmother was consulting her naturopath, Dr. Weston Price, a dentist studied communities around the world, linking declining physical and mental health to a change from their traditional whole food diets to Western-influenced ones, which were high in white flour and refined sugar. His seminal volume “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration” is still a bible for clinical nutritionists. It’s almost thirty five years since I finished my own studies in Clinical Nutrition - sugar as the bad guy was never in any doubt and for thirty years I’ve been advising preconception couples to get rid of sugar-containing products from their diet!

Yet despite a mass of sugar-related studies and practical wisdom, in recent decades sugar as the bad guy has been overlooked or forgotten. Perhaps, more insidiously, those revealing studies have been sidelined by vested interests. Concurrently, the flawed recommendations that fat is actually the bad guy have been front and centre, eclipsing sugar’s bad reputation. 
Now with the nonsense surrounding fat and heart disease exposed as just that, the pendulum will finally swing back towards consumption of healthy fats. So it’s also time to explore exactly how sugar exerts its damaging effects. While the knowledge of those effects is not new to many, the mode of action is now becoming clear. Rather than neurons in the brain passively taking up sugar (which has long been the understanding) scientists say the glial cells, which make up ninety percent of the brain, but which have also been misunderstood as mere support cells, actively seek out sugar molecules for take-up!

A better understanding of how this works, of why we get hungry, of why we crave sweet foods, of how sugar affects our mood and much more, could change everything! It certainly highlights the vitally important recommendations to get rid of sugar from your diet if you want to lose weight, improve physical and mental performance and reduce the likelihood of chronic degenerative diseases such as diabetes!

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