Sweet Misery – Sugar Balance and Health

November 12, 2013

By Anna Varriano

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November is National Diabetes month, so perhaps you would think that this month’s tip is going to focus on what you can do to prevent or reverse diabetes (yes, both are possible); however, it’s not. This month’s tip is intended to make you aware of the numerous other health issues you may be experiencing right now that are associated with eating sugar and anything that turns into some form of sugar, including grains, rice, corn, starchy foods, and anything that is made with them.

Sugar is Hiding Everywhere!

hidingStart reading the labels on packaged goods that you purchase, and you’ll likely discover that sugar is listed as an ingredient at least once – and likely multiple times – as there are so many forms of sugar being used now: corn syrup, rice syrup, agave syrup, dextrose, maltose, maltodextrin, barley malt, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, mannitol, glucose-fructose, high fructose corn syrup (often cited as the WORST offender), blah, blah, blah, blah, blah! The list goes on and on; in fact, earlier this week, someone sent me a picture of the ingredient label of a well-known table salt, and sugar was listed! That’s just one reason to use natural, unprocessed sea salt! I’m not saying that we can never eat or drink anything with sugar in it ever again, but chances are most of us should be cutting back a little…or maybe a lot.

Scary Stats

increaseWhile I’m not focusing on diabetes, we shouldn’t ignore the fact that according to the Canadian Diabetes Association, more than 9 million Canadians are living with diabetes or prediabetes. That’s just over 25% of our population! How can we ignore that? We also shouldn’t ignore the fact that Adult Onset (Type 2) diabetes is no longer an adult disease, as it is being diagnosed in children at an alarming rate, and that Alzheimer’s disease is now being referred to as Type 3 diabetes. Why on earth is this happening, and what can be done about it?

It’s Not Just About Diabetes

In my opinion, the issue with sugar consumption and blood sugar balance isn’t just whether or not you get a diabetic or prediabetic diagnosis, but rather if your nutritional and lifestyle choices are moving you towards healthy or unhealthy blood sugar levels – it shouldn’t be about a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ diagnosis! Do you really want to wait until you are diagnosed with diabetes or prediabetes to take action?

Over the years, I’ve read a lot of studies that linked various health conditions to sugar consumption and blood sugar imbalances. What if I told you that some of these studies showed that blood sugar issues can:

  • suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to catching colds and flus, and increasing the risk of more serious diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and cancer
  • weaken your bones and lead to osteoporosis
  • raise ‘bad’ cholesterol numbers and decrease ‘good’ cholesterol numbers
  • affect behaviour, learning, and mood
  • cause issues with the digestive system, including increasing the risk of food sensitivities, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis
  • cause multiple nutrient deficiencies which will have widespread consequences throughout the body
  • increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease
  • make it virtually impossible for you to lose weight

Weighing ScalesThe last point is especially important given the epidemic we are seeing with people being overweight or obese (both are risk factors for numerous other health issues). Interestingly, the hormone that balances our blood sugar, insulin, has a lot to do with our ability to burn fat and lose weight. Why? Because insulin is known as a ‘fat-storing’ hormone; that means it is physiologically impossible to burn fat/lose weight without balancing our insulin level, which depends on our blood sugar level.

Ready For An Ounce of Prevention?

You’d be surprised at the number of factors that affect our blood sugar and insulin levels including what, when, and how we eat, what we drink, how we handle stress, lifestyle choices, and supplements.

For more information that will help you balance your blood sugar and insulin levels, which will in turn positively impact so many areas of your health, I invite you to attend a workshop I’ll be holding on Tuesday November 26th, from 7pm-9pm at the International Academy Health Education Centre, 380 Forest Street, Ottawa ON. As usual, you’ll get loads of practical tips and tools that you can start putting in to practice right away. You’ll also receive informative handouts and an opportunity to win one of several great door prizes. For more information or to register, click here.

In the meantime, here are a few nutritional tips that can help to balance blood glucose and insulin levels, and a recipe that incorporates all of them!

  • Eat more high fibre foods, especially vegetables. Dietary fibre, especially those that are water-soluble, such as pectin, have been shown to have anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties. Foods high in pectin include: apples, pears, citrus fruit, carrots, beets, cabbage, onions, artichoke, okra, fennel, and squash; in fact, research is being done regarding the use of pectin from certain types of squash as a food additive.
  • Eat more healthy fats, especially coconut oil. Coconut oil has been found to help regulate blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity, increase metabolism, and promote weight/fat loss.
  • Add cinnamon. Research has shown that as little as ¼ to ½ teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lead to approximately a 20% drop in blood sugar.

  • Use natural, unprocessed sweeteners. For those times when you do want to add a little sweet to your life, use sweeteners such as local raw honey or pure maple syrup. Remember that these are still sweeteners, so they should be used in moderation.

There are so many other great things you can do to promote healthy blood sugar and insulin levels, which in turn will promote a healthier more vibrant life! I look forward to sharing them with you at my workshop.

Take control of what you can!

Yours in health,

Anna

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