Any of you out there concerned about your weight or health?

I suspect that is the majority of us.

Threre are ‘revelations’ being made about what we eat every day. New discoveries and better understandings of how our bodies use what we all put into our mouths – knowingly, or increasingly in the ‘civilised world’, unknowingly.

Here are three that could save you a lot of time, effort and heartache.

A website called Nutrition Data ; Protein awareness and Fructose awareness.

The website is pretty self explanatory – it is a resource that can tell you just about anything about everything you ever consume as a food or drink. It has at-a-glance nutritional tables and graphs as well as fact tables for the more print-oriented geeks like me. A veritable goldmine of important information.

Protein Awareness is less straight-forward. Sufficient protein in your diet is important, especially in childhood but to every body to provide it with the essentials it needs to perform it’s job efficiently and keeping us in a healthy state of ‘repair’. Protein is esential in the formation of bone, muscle and the other tissues of our body as well as for our metabloism and functioning of all the bodies organs.

What has recently been discovered though is that protein is perhaps the main indicator we have of knowing when we have had ‘enough’ food. ( http://calorielab.com/news/2005/07/28/protein-may-be-appetite-suppressant/ ) We all know that a ‘balanced’ diet is important but if you cut down on protein intake or eat foods with a low protein/carbohydrate ratio you will tend to eat more, and thus eat more calories, than if you eat a high-protein diet. It is the protein you eat that mainly determines your degree of feeling ‘Hungry’. The more hungry you feel the more likely you will put on ‘more’ weight – and vice-versa. 

Fructose awareness is where things can get much trickier, but it might just be the most important part of your dietary ‘regime’ or the reason why your body looks and feels the way it does.

Most of us already understand that too much sugar is not healthy for us but few of us understand about ‘sugar’ as it is shown on most food labels. Fewer still have an awareness of Fructose.

Sugar is a very general term. There are many kinds of sugars and they are not all ‘equal’ ( ‘scuse the pun).

The things most of us have heard about sugars we mostly connect with the sugar we see on tables in coffee shops or buy in bags from a store. This is often a form of sugar called ‘sucrose’ a naturally occuring sweet substance refined from either sugar beets or sugar cane. The only difference between ‘white’ sugar and raw sugar (and castor or icing sugar) is the degree of refinement; chemically they are effectively the same thing. You just get a geater degree of sweetness (and calories) the ‘whiter’ a sugar is.

Sucrose when absorbed in our stomach and gut breaks down into glucose and fructose. – ‘Simple’ sugar ( arbohydrate) chains of atoms. Our bodies need glucose and uses it as a fast source of energy to power our system. Glucose is quickly absorbed by our bodies and is able to be taken up by virtually every organ in the body via the blodstream.

Fructose is quite a different matter – although very similar in composition the body treats it vastly different to glucose. Fructose is almost twice a sweet as sugar (see below) and has to be absorbed by our liver out of the blood to be ‘useful’. When faced with fructose the liver essentailly ‘drops’ everything else to focus all it’s effort on processing it. Overconsumption of fructose overloads the liver with chaotic results for our long term health.

 

The food industry loves fructose because they can use less of this form of sugar to produce our preferred levels of sweetness colour and aroma thus saving them money.

It is no ‘coincidence’ that the obesity epidemic be-devilling our children and ourselves today in the western world coincides strongly with the increased consumption of fructose compared to ‘normal’ sucrose (Sugar). it also matches the increase in type 11 Diabetes ( essentially a problem relating to inneficient liver function and poor regulation of insulin/blood glucose).

Sweetness
Sweetness

Some people will have a difficulty absorbing Fructose in the small intestine (where it becomes available to the liver through our blood system) and it will pass into the large intestine where bacteria will cause it to react chemically causing a range of unwanted health side effects including bloating, water retention, flatulence and cramps.

If you are using a low GI diet be especially careful Fructose can artififially lower GI of foods you might be avoiding insulin ‘rushes’ but you may be doing long term damage to your liver and  overall health by being falsely informed of your ‘sugar’ intake.

As an indication of the ‘confusion’ that can arise over this issue if you don’t have full awareness.

Sugar (sucrose) contains equal amounts (50%) of glucose and fructose, both high in total energy content (unused energy is stored in our body as fat) Glucose is used by every cell in our body while fructose mostly is ‘burned up’ by the liver into things the body needs small amounts of daily.

Corn Syrup has no fructose and is only 35% glucose. BUT… Hi-Fructose corn syrup ( HFCS) can contain fructose/glucose in a ratio as high as 90/5 – more commonly 55/40.

It is now believed that the higher the fructose/glucose sugar ratio the more dangerous to your overall health a food is, particularly if the food has little or no fibre in it.

One last point that few if any of us think about… low fat milk has had 50% of the fat removed and is seen by some as being a good way to reduce fat intake. The 50 % that is removed comes to around 2 grams per 100 mls (about 2%) while the same milk contains over 5% sugar (in the form of lactose) and this sugar can be stored as fat in our bodies if not used immediately.

So if you can take joy in the 2% of fat you ‘save’ through choosing reduced fat milk, don’t forget about the 5% you were not considering in the sugar content that is still in all milk.

 

THE LAST WORD… ( from http://www.healthyeatingclub.org/info/articles/body-shape/fructose.htm)

 Bottom line: A low fat diet containing processed sugar dense foods is really a high fat diet because fructose (in sugar) behaves like a fat. We were not designed to eat a lot of refined sugars, we’re supposed to be eating our carbohydrate, particularly our fructose, with high fibre in unprocessed foods like fruit and vegetables. If you are trying to lose weight, lower your blood pressure, blood fats or fatty liver reduce your intake of sugars/fructose in processed foods that do not contain fibre (like soft drinks, fruit juices, sweet yoghurts, cakes, biscuits, fructose sweetened protein drinks etc) even if the label says low GI.

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8 thoughts on “Any of you out there concerned about your weight or health?

  1. yikes. so much to try to remember all at once — when barely having time to shop and cook! but you’re so right.

    i’m not sure if shaklee supplements/products are available down under, but my family has been committed users my entire life. might be worth looking into.

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  2. am I concerned about my weight or health?

    is that a trick question? 😉

    I have yet to read this…b/c I would need to pay attention to what I’m reading to take it all in….and I have three boys in front of me….one in my lap, one dancing to Garth Brooks (woohoo!) and the other watching brother dance. And a dog barking at the dancing one. 😯 CHAOS! CHAOS I TELL YOU! 😆

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  3. That was very useful information about the difference between sucrose and fructose, and how are bodies process each.

    The first thing I did when I was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic was see a nutritionist to help develop my meal plan. My grandfather was a type 1 diabetic, so I had a genetic predisposition for diabetes. If I had the kind of information you provided I may have been able to adjust my diet to avoid developing diabetes. It is also important to know our own bodies and family history so we can tailor our meal plan to own requirements.

    It is great that there are now resources for anyone to get the kind of information they need to develop a healthy meal plan, such as the link you provided. Of course it still does take discipline to keep to the plan. Looking at the number of overweight young people it is pretty clear many do not.

    We develop many of our eating habits as children so it is doubly important for parents to start their kids off eating healthy and to educate them about nutrition.

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  4. Leesh – never heard of Shaklee here! To the best of my limited knowledge Australia has not been so ‘dependent’ upon HFCS (Hi-Fructose Corn Syrup) for sweeteners in our food as the US is as we have vast areas of land dedicated to growing sugar cane for our sucrose here. But since the US and large global companies are buying out almost all our local brands it may just be a matter of time. Given the size of some of our kids it may already be ‘too late’ but i hope i can help ‘spread’ the awareness of this BIG, but virtually unknown, problem.

    Bwan – you made me lol 🙂 Please watch out for the various sweet additives suppliers are inserting into your foods in increasing quantities that replace ‘natural’ (and slightly more expensive) sweetners. It is a matter of not only your own and Jake’s health but of D and O and A ! Sweetness is a ‘learned’ experience and it is addictive. It’s also deceptive as many foods that don’t taste all that ‘sweet’ have ‘added’ sugars for ‘flavour’.

    Remember that in a small 100% natural apple juice bottle (around a ‘cup) is the equivalent total sugar (mostly fructose) of FOUR average apples without any of the healthy ‘roughage’ our bodies get when eating fruit.

    ‘Natural’ is no guarantee we are doing the best thing for our body or that of our kids in the long term.

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  5. Tam – skinny people are not immune to getting diabetes type 11 !

    Besides – you are already quite sweet enough! 😉

    Ed – I agree with you – there are many people who never understand or understand poorly that what they eat is vitally important to the way they live – and how long they might. The Phrase: ‘this current (Western) generation my be the first in human history for which dying before your parents do is common’ (by reason of obesity/bad dietary intake) is sickening to me given the level of ‘advancement’ we are supposed to have gained from man’s last 500 years of scientific revolution.

    I know you do your bit to help the wider spread of new knowledge with the aim of making this world a better place. I know i do not ‘do’ enough of this myself. i do some but could do far more.

    We all need to take some of the responsibility for this ‘lack’ of knowledge however and the truth is we are either too busy or too selfish or just plain dumb ( or as you say lack the discipline – the Will) to do that in sufficient amount for humans to ever solve their own problems. Some very important people in this world, i believe, count upon this and they have not been let down yet!

    Would that this change soon.

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  6. nice blog! i use that nutrition data site pretty often, actually!

    the hubby and i are always very concerned with things such as this. we generally prefer to use agave nectar for sweetening things, though sometimes it is just necessary to use some form of granulated sugar (like when i bake, and i don’t know how to substitute something else). and we NEVER use “fake” sugar. (who would want to…it’s practically poison!)

    it’s always so good to see other people who are concerned with over-all health.

    however, i do have to say that there is a lot of information on fructose-fruit sugar. most of it that i have read has pointed out its lower glycemic index and that it also raises your blood sugar about 1/3 as much as sucrose does, releasing only about 1/3 as much insulin into your system.

    therefore, it becomes less likely for that insulin to turn the sugar into fat, like most simple sugars. however, as you said, it is SO important that we have complex carbs, rather than just simple ones. without that crucial amount of fiber, the natural sugars in food can practically do nothing BUT turn to fat.

    that’s why i choose to never (okay, rarely) eat white flour, white sugar, white rice, etc. instead i love brown rice, agave nectar or honey (and sugar when i have no choice for substitution), and whole red or whole white (sweet) wheat flours.

    here’s my main take on nutrition: give yourself LOTS of color (who doesn’t love a plate full of brightly colored peppers, leafy greens and root vegetables), stay away from simple carbs (sugar, for example), but eat plenty of crucial complex carbs (grains, etc). lean protein, no fake stuff, and you’re on your way to an awesome diet.

    but then again, that’s just my opinion. 😉

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