Have a great day - eat something healthy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fat and Stupid - Thanks to Sugar

Fat and stupid? Well, it looks like there’s a correlation. On Saturday I was listening to a favorite radio program of mine called “Dishing Up Nutrition.” The host, Dar Kvist, a licensed nutritionist and co-founder of Nutritional Weight & Wellness, Inc., was discussing blood sugar; levels and brain health.

Before I go into what Dar and her co-host, Wendy Cates-Danser, RN, had to say, I want to address the confusion that surrounds sugar. Sugar isn’t just the granulated white or brown stuff that we find in all of our favorite sweet treats or the high fructose corn syrup that's almost ubiquitous in processed foods and beverages; sugar is also what results when our bodies attempt to metabolize processed carbohydrates. So that bowl of pasta, that potato, the popcorn, the crackers and chips that we all love to snack on turn into sugar once our bodies get a hold of them. And, as we all know but wish to forget, there’s no good that can come from having too much sugar in our systems. Here’s what Dar and Wendy had to say…

“There’s a new wisdom about the importance of blood sugar control. Control your blood sugars and you will control your weight, you will support your brain cells for regeneration and function, you’ll maintain organ and physical health, and keep your hunger in check. High blood sugars make the blood vessels hard and stiff which increases the risk of a stroke, heart disease, high blood pressure and all of these things increase the accelerated aging of your brain. High blood sugars impair memory and other cognitive functions. So we have more problems with word recall, senior moments, and focus.

“Everyone knows that we experience higher blood sugars after a bowl of cereal, juice and toast. The pancreas can overreact, producing too much insulin – then we have low blood sugars, which leads to short-term memory problems. Controlling your blood sugars is the key for brain health – to have good memory and focus.

2 cups of most dry cereal turns into 12 teaspoons of glucose or sugar in our bloodstream. And we haven’t even added the skim milk, the orange juice and the piece of toast, which brings it up to between 24 and 32 teaspoons of sugar – just for breakfast. Then we can pick up a bagel – a bagel weighs in at 57 grams of carbs. That’s 14.25 teaspoons of sugar! What about 2 pieces of pizza? In two pieces of pizza you’re eating 12 teaspoons of sugar. The average American is eating over 50 teaspoons of sugar daily. And our organs are reacting – especially our brains. Preschoolers are being diagnosed with depression.

“For us to maintain a healthy anti-aging brain we must eat in a way to keep our blood sugars in a normal range (somewhere between 70 and 100) and do it all through the day.” That means eliminating faves like cereal, bagels, popcorn, baked potatoes (sweet potatoes are fine), processed rice, cookies, French fries, potato chips and sweets. “When I look at food, [I think], ‘Do I want to keep my brain, my toes, my kidneys, my hearing, my eyesight’… one of the leading causes of cataracts is having higher blood sugars and eating too many processed carbs with too much sugar and bad fats going right back to the eyesight. So I ask myself, ‘Do I want all those diseases, or do I want that treat?’ Usually reason and reality wins out.”

Here’s an easy tip for determining the amount of sugar in a food item - when reading the nutritional information of a food,  divide the number of carbohydrates by 4 – that will result in the amount of sugars.

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