Too much syrup, not enough sleep
New Zealand’s favourite wellbeing expert, Dr Libby answers readers’ questions about living a healthier life.
Question: Over a period of five years I spent many weeks in Midwest America and during this time was constantly appalled by the use of high fructose corn syrup in so many foods, especially those labelled as a ‘‘lite’’ or healthy alternative. Please discuss the insidious use of this product showing up in our food. We simply don’t need it and should not have it in our food. Thanks, Lin. Hi Lin, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is used in many processed food products throughout America. It is used because it is cheaper than white cane sugar, lowering the cost of food production.
A main concern with HFCS is that it is proportionally very high in fructose, and this requires the liver to produce an enzyme to convert the fructose into useable glucose. In some people this process can be inefficient and excessive amounts of fructose may be converted into fat, leading to weight gain and a fatty liver, making body fat even harder to shift.
In New Zealand we are fortunate that so far HFCS has not significantly infiltrated our local food supply.
Most companies do not use HFCS in the production of food products, however you may find that some imported foods do contain HFCS, as it is not a banned substance.
By choosing to eat real food you will naturally avoid HFCS as well as other additives in processed foods that can take away from your health.
HFCS is a good example of human intervention harming a perfectly nourishing whole food, corn.
When choosing sweeteners to use in cooking and baking it is best to use small amounts of those that are as close to nature as possible. Examples include fresh fruit, honey, pure maple syrup and fresh herbs like stevia. Question: How much sleep should we be getting? Is it different for everyone? I have no idea what time to go to bed and I always wake up whenever my little ones wake up. I feel like I need 10 hours! Thanks, Bex. Hi Bex, science suggests that adults need seven to nine hours of sleep per night, and we cannot fight our biology!
The precise amount needed, however, varies from person to person.
It sounds like you are a mother of young children, so it is not surprising that you feel like you need 10 hours.
Children are more likely to be following their natural circadian sleep rhythm, going to sleep when the sun goes down and waking just after sunrise.
This is a great pattern for you to follow too, when you can.
Once your children have gone to bed, try to spend some time winding down and preparing yourself for sleep.
Don’t feel like you have to stay up until a certain time.
If you are feeling sleepy then head to bed, particularly if you know your little ones will be waking you early.
As a young mum, it can be challenging to get rituals around your sleep patterns so also remember that they are little for such a (relatively) short time. It helps to realise that sleep deprivation and exhaustion don’t have to be your experience forever.
If your diet really needs sweetening up, consider natural options such as honey and fruit.