Is Giv­ing Up Good For You?

The pluses and mi­nuses of go­ing sugar, gluten, dairy or meat-free

My Weekly - - Contents -

SWAP­PING SUGAR

Most of us have a sweet tooth, and as­so­ciate sug­ary foods with com­fort and a pick-me-up boost of en­ergy. But too much sugar can be dam­ag­ing, putting us at risk of type-2 di­a­betes, can­cer, and other health is­sues.

US re­search has found that adults over 70 who con­sume high lev­els of sugar are at risk of cog­ni­tive im­pair­ment, such as mem­ory loss, and foggy thought. A sug­ary diet has also been shown to in­crease chances of car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease; many ex­perts in heart health be­lieve that sugar puts us more at risk of heart prob­lems than sat­u­rated fat.

A sug­ary diet cre­ates a blood sugar roller­coaster: when blood sugar dips mak­ing us lethar­gic, low, and edgy, we gorge on sug­ary snacks (such as cake) – this raises our blood sugar level, stim­u­lates the re­lease of feel-good chem­i­cals called en­dor­phins, and we are calm and happy once more… un­til the blood sugar dips again. The more sugar we eat, the less ef­fec­tive it is, so we have to eat more. No won­der it’s ad­dic­tive! We can bal­ance blood sugar, and in turn our mood and en­ergy, by eat­ing slow-re­lease en­ergy foods (such as brown rice and veg­eta­bles), and pro­teins (such as eggs).

Sugar makes up 12% of the av­er­age UK adult diet. Health ex­perts ad­vise re­duc­ing that per­cent­age, but also re­plac­ing re­fined sugar with health­ier sweet al­ter­na­tives (such as maple syrup and pieces of fruit). “My favourite al­ter­na­tive sweet­en­ers are raw honey and molasses, both of which are highly nu­tri­tious,” says Brighton­based nu­tri­tion­ist Kirsten Chick ( CONNECTWITHNUTRITION.CO.UK). “But I ad­vise cau­tion with fruc­tose-rich agave syrup and fruit juice.” Ear­lier this year fruc­tose was shown to in­crease risk of weight gain and liver dam­age, and is also thought to in­crease risk of heart dis­ease and di­a­betes, in ex­cess.

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