Very often sugar is refered to as a food with 'empty calories', meaning that calorie for calorie, if sugar is compared to something like an apple, you do not get any valuable vitamins, minerals or fibre. However, consuming sugar is actually worse than this. Sugar doesn't simply not give us nutrients along with the calories, it may actually negetively affect the fine balance of valuable nutrients within the body.
One example of this is that sugar may lead to an increase in acidity within the body's cells. To counteract or 'buffer' this excess acidiy, calcium may be drawn out of the bones. This is obviously not a helpful scenario for bone strength and integrity.
Another example is that refined sugar may also lead to the excretion of valuable nutrients, including chromium, which is particularly important in helping balance the level of glucose in the blood. High blood glucose is a symptom of diabetes, but if the blood glucose levels are constantly dipping too low this may lead to all manner of symptoms, such as headaches, irritability, tiredness and fatigue. Our bodies instinctively know that they need a lift, and so we find ourselves reaching for a sugary pick-me-up, such as a sweet coffee, a bun or biscuit or a piece of chocolate. This releases sugar very quickly into the blood stream, provoking the pancreas to produce a load of insulin in an attempt to get the glucose into the body's cells. Before we know it, blood glucose levels have dropped again and we find ourselves locked into a cycle of ups and downs as shown in the graph above.
Yesterday I wrote that I would consider some factors to help reduce sugar in the diet Balancing our blood sugar levels is perhaps one of the most important factors in this respect. Since it is when our blood sugar levels are low that we crave sugar we do well if we make changes to our diets to prevent that dip.
Tomorrow I will consider how to eat to prevent peaks and troughs in our blood sugar levels.