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).
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.