Rethinking Sugar

What is the one thing you can do today to make a significant positive impact on your personal wellness? According to Dr. Rhonda Patrick, eliminating refined sugar from our diets can have a significant positive impact in a very short period of time.

I listened to the March 18, 2017 episode: Refined Sugar and Its Effects on Mortality, the Brain, Cancer, Hormones, & More while spending my LAST day in the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre parking area today, trying to get at least a mile in while my husband had his eye attended to. It isn’t the first time I have heard the podcast, and the list of negative impacts of added sugar is long.

Studies have shown that drinking just ONE less sugar sweetened beverage per day can have profound positive impacts on health.

Excess sugar consumption is linked to increased cancer incidence, and we now understand how this actually happens in the stomach.

Excess sugar, particularly in sugar-sweetened beverages, significantly shortens telomeres and provides biomarkers showing a decline in potential longevity of over 4 years.

Excess sugar consumption changes brain structures – something very interesting to educators. High sugar consumption impacts cognitive ability and healing of injuries to the brain.

While we are all vaguely aware of the relationship between sugar and type two diabetes, we are likely unaware that over 100,000 deaths per year in the US are directly related to excess sugar consumption.

This excess sugar comes from sugar and high fructose corn syrup added to foods. It is not the sugar naturally found in food items like fruits, where the sugar is bound up in the “food matrix” – a conglomerate of many food structures like fibre and polyphenols, that have a positive contribution to our health.

We also know that although fructose is sweeter than glucose, it is only processed in the liver, bypassing the production of insulin, but also leptin, the hormone that tells us we have had enough and we should stop eating or drinking. This is how high fructose corn syrup messes with our biofeedback mechanisms.

Because refined sugar causes increases in dopamine, it impacts the reward centres in our brain and creates and addiction to sugar that can be difficult to break.

Knowing all of this, as educators, how do we ensure that our kids get good information and make great choices that will lead to good health? What are our responsibilities in helping parents to also make good decisions about the foods they prepare for children?

References:

Found My Fitness: March 18, 2017 episode: Refined Sugar and Its Effects on Mortality, the Brain, Cancer, Hormones, & More

Featured image by @multimedia

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