MOMS AGAINST SUGAR AND STARCH ABUSE – MASSA
Do you ever wonder about the claims made on the boxes you stack in your food trolley? While you are more likely to think of its cost and taste, food is the most powerful drug you can use. Modern science reveals that manufactured products,in spite of claims used to market them, are often toxic and should well be replaced with simpler, healthier foods. When moms unite against food abuse by industry, our families will reap untold benefits.
The harm done by food falls into three main categories; either the food is altered making its shelf life longer and our biological lives shorter, it is deliberately filled with chemicals that add color, flavor and taste enhancement, or it is incidentally filled with antibiotics and chemical toxins, used to kill bacteria, parasites or fungi that grow in poorly fed animals or in stored food. The consequences of these actions affect the full spectrum of disease.
Of all the additives in commercial food, sugar appears to be the most addictive, the most pervasive and one of the most harmful. In rat experiments sugar is shown to be more addictive than cocaine. In humans it is linked to heart disease, diabetes and cancer and it reduces fertility, immunity and brain health. It is acid-forming in the body and contributes to chronic inflammation and arthritis.
Refined starch as occurs in white bread, donuts, biscuits and pasta is almost as bad. It is rapidly converted to sugar and destabilizes blood glucose levels almost as much as sugar alone. A food’s glycemic index is the rate at which it is converted in the body to sugar and then to glucose and fructose. The lower the index, the slower the conversion, the less the body chemistry is destabilized and the healthier the food. Low glycemic foods that score well are proteins, veggies, beans, seeds and lentils, fruits, whole grains, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, yams and basmati rice.
Your body’s optimal use of the food you eat is affected by two intertwined hormones, Insulin and leptin, Insulin release is stimulated by glucose; leptin by fat stored in cells. Insulin converts your blood sugar to glycogen which is converted to energy; leptin triggers satiety and break down of fats. The more sensitive your body is to insulin and leptin, the more balanced your metabolism. Frequent spikes in both lead to insensitivity and result in food being stored as unhealthy fat (mainly triglycerides) . Slow and moderate release of insulin and leptin results in controlled appetite, less fat storage and efficient conversion of glucose to energy.
While sugar was previously considered enemy number 1, sugar and starch are converted to glucose and fructose and of the two sugars, fructose appears to be the greatest culprit in promoting disease. It is converted to triglycerides without stimulating insulin, contributes little to energy production, and reduces leptin sensitivity.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) was invented in Japan and is cynically referred to as the Japanese response to Pearl Harbor. It is made by converting cornstarch to fructose and combining it with glucose. A 90 percent fructose version is most commonly used in baked goods and a 55 percent version is used in soft drinks. It is far sweeter than sugar and much cheaper. Naturally occurring fructose bound to fruit fiber is slowly absorbed, hence healthy; not so HFCS which the body absorbs rapidly and converts to unhealthy triglycerides, disrupting leptin activity and conversion of fats and stored sugars, to energy. It’s difficult to avoid HFCS and you are unlikely to find an ice cream made without it.
As a result of excessive consumption of fructose, sugar and starch, huge swathes of populations across the world are overweight. Excessive weight gain is also fueled by artificial sweeteners which act in a similar manner to fructose and by the consumption of trans fats every bit as problematic as sugar and starch.
Trans fats, or hydrogenated fats, are also manufactured in laboratories to make food, not people, last longer. The ongoing Harvard Nurses’ Health Study of 80,000 women showed that with each 2 percent increase in the amount of calories consumed from trans fat, a woman’s coronary risk jumps by 93 percent. Trans fats affect cell membranes, making cells resistant to insulin. That leads to obesity and syndrome X linking overweight, diabetes, heart disease and cancer, affecting approx 50 million Americans and millions more throughout the world. Progressive countries have banned use of trans fats, but where they haven’t, only scrutinizing labels can help you avoid them.
Complicated as the physiology of these offending substances may seem, the solution is simple; avoid the stuff that causes harm. The latest understanding of physiology suggests that protein and natural fats, whether mono unsaturated or saturated, with unrefined carbohydrates proportional to energy demand, is the healthiest diet to follow. MamaEarth will provide some satisfying and scrumptious options in our forthcoming blogs, on foods that heal and foods that harm.
Dr Ruth Rabinowitz (sponsor of a private members bill on banning of transfats, adopted in SA)