Epidemic obesity is arguably the gravest public health crisis we face and inarguably the least controlled.
Because of our fast-lane living, we have lost the art of eating well. We got used to having everything on the go. Most people don’t plan good nutritious meals – they tend to buy fast foods and gulp them down while doing ten other things simultaneously. All of this speed takes a toll. Obesity, eating disorders and poor nutrition are rife.
If you are overweight, chances are your body is programmed to turn food into fat because of bad eating habits.
Low or High GI?
FACT: Sugar makes you fat.
Sugar is an ingredient of most convenience foods today. If you spend a bit of time and read the labels on the packaging – you will see words like ”glucose, maltose and dextrose. They are all fast energy-releasing sugars – they make your blood sugar level rocket upwards. The body must then counteract by releasing insulin in your bloodstream, to prevent you from going into a sugar-induced coma. This happens right throughout the day – depending on how much sugary or high GI (GI = glycaemic index) foods you consume. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas. It causes the blood sugar level in your bloodstream to drop significantly. That triggers within you a craving for the next sugary meal. It becomes a vicious cycle, and all the glucose that is not immediately used for energy – like when you are running – is converted and stored as fat.
The body reacts differently to complex carbohydrates than to fast-releasing sugars. Complex carbohydrates are whole, natural foods like grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and nuts. Complex carbohydrates break down gradually as we digest them, releasing their sugars slowly into the bloodstream. They are therefore classified as slow-releasing sugars or low GI.
Why does sugar make you fat?
Sugar is needed by all cells in your body as a source of energy-giving fuel. Unfortunately, glucose, a high octane fuel, is dangerous to your body. High levels of glucose in your bloodstream can cause nerve, eye, kidney and artery damage. When your blood sugar rises quickly because of high GI food, the body reacts quickly to bring the glucose level in your bloodstream down again, by removing the glucose from your bloodstream. If glucose is not used as an energy source, the body converts it into and stores it as fat. High insulin levels in the bloodstream also prevent the body from breaking down these fat deposits and using their energy. So once you’re fat, you stay fat.
The pancreas secretes another hormone – called glucagon. It is a fat burner hormone that is secreted naturally by the body when your blood sugar level drops too low. Glucagon is released in the bloodstream and it tells your body to break down fat and convert it to sugar for energy. That increases the blood sugar level in the bloodstream naturally. The more glucagon you produce, the more you are programming your body to burn fat.
It means if you are eating low GI whole foods – you will be losing weight naturally. Your body will produce glucagon and burn fat as an energy source. If you eat high GI foods, your body will increase the release of insulin, which inhibits the release of glucagon, and you will pile up fat.
The more often you stimulate the release of insulin, the more sensitive your body becomes to it, so the more you have to produce. This syndrome is called insulin resistance.
Insulin resistance is a physiological condition in which cells fail to respond to the normal actions of the hormone insulin. The body produces insulin, but the cells in the body become resistant to insulin and are unable to use it as effectively, leading to hyperglycaemia.
What Is Sugar Sensitivity?
Sugar Sensitivity is an inherited biochemical condition that has predictable and specific effects on the brain and on a person’s behaviour. What foods a sugar-sensitive person eats and when they eat them will affect them profoundly. Sugar sensitivity describes three core issues:
• Volatile blood sugar that overreacts to refined carbohydrates
• Low natural levels of the brain chemical Serotonin that affects mood and the ability to say no.
• Low natural levels of the brain chemical Beta Endorphin that modulates both physical and emotional pain.
This condition makes the sugar-sensitive person particularly vulnerable to the effects of sugars. Sugars have the same pain-killing and euphoria-stimulating effect in the human body as opioid drugs like morphine and heroin do. These drug effects of sugar are heightened in sugar-sensitive people. Sugar addiction, like drug addiction, is real and can open the gate to other addictions.
Obesity is a pressing health concern because it often triggers the development of other serious medical conditions. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include
- Cancer, especially in the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate
- Heart disease or stroke
- Sleep apnea
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure
- Infertility or irregular periods
Extreme obesity, defined as having a BMI of 40 or above, is referred to as morbid obesity because it often leads to death. (http://www.livescience.com)
So in short:
1. Avoid sugar in its many disguises.
2. Avoid foods containing fast-releasing carbohydrates with a high GI score.
3. Instead eat foods that contain low GI carbohydrates.
4. Eat whole unrefined foods.
High GI FOODS TO AVOID or LIMIT:
White sugar, white rice, white bread, cornflakes, ice cream, baked potato, chips, wheat bix, sugar-containing drinks (coke), sweets, biscuits, watermelon, pineapple, chocolates, waffles, doughnuts, crumpets, pancakes, pretzels pizzas.
Low GI FOODS TO EAT:
Fructose (instead of white sugar), oats, wholewheat bread, cherries, grapefruit, pears, wholewheat pasta, soybeans, whole milk, carrots, peanuts, lentils, beans, plums, oranges, grapes, apples, apple and orange juice.
To learn more about obesity: Weightloss problem Quiz.
Main image: Pixabay