Hidden sugars in food
Yumm, Sugar! It is delicious and makes you feel so good! It's also super addictive, makes you crave more of it, and wreaks havoc on your gut.
So what do we do about it?
Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year. This is equal to about 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day! How much do we actually need?
You might heard that our brains need sugar for its' proper functions like actual thinking, memory, and learning that are closely linked to glucose levels and how efficiently the brain uses this fuel source. In humans, the brain accounts for just ~2% of the body weight, but it consumes ~20% of glucose-derived energy making it the main consumer of glucose.
What happens if there isn’t enough glucose in the brain? Neurotransmitters, the brain’s chemical messengers, are not produced and communication between neurons breaks down. In addition, hypoglycemia, a common complication of diabetes caused by low glucose levels in the blood, can lead to loss of energy for brain function and is linked to poor attention and cognitive function.
The brain can use two main fuels, glucose or ketones, both of which cross the blood-brain barrier.
In people who eat a diet moderate to high in carbohydrates, the brain’s main energy source is glucose. In people who eat a low-carb, ketogenic diet, the brain can use ketones to meet a major portion of its energy needs. That's why it's important to be metabolically flexible (metabolic flexibility is the ability of an organism to respond or adapt according to changes in metabolic or energy demand as well as the prevailing conditions or activity. ) and switch from using carbs or fat for fuel easily.
Our brain is super duper smart and can have all its energy demands met by the liver, from stored glucose, gluconeogenesis (a process that transforms non-carbohydrate substrates (such as lactate, amino acids, and glycerol) into glucose), or ketone production — whether or not you eat any carbs at all.
Therefore, there’s absolutely no nutritional need or benefit that comes from eating added sugar.
The food makers are pretty sneaky and hide plain, ol' sugar under many disguises like in the table below (download it to keep it handy while grocery shopping 😉).
You'll see some familiar names like honey, maple syrup or molasses that are labeled as "no refined sugar" which simply means there is no white sugar. They do have a slightly lower glycemic index score and provide a few nutrients (for example, manganese and magnesium in molasses) but the amount of these vitamins and minerals is very low. So if you absolutely must have some kind of sugar for cooking or just to satisfy a sweet tooth, use these (sparingly, nevertheless). Or try soaking and then blending pitted dates (unsulfured and unsweetened, of course) for a delicious treat.