More on sugar: this might explain the term Sickly Sweet.
Professor Jennie Brand Miller is reported here with her comments on our growing obesity epidemic and I couldn’t leave what was reported without comment.
Is there something Snow White about this?
Let me address some issues here.
I’d like to see the statistics of the decline in sugar (sucrose) intake. My figures show the daily intake in Australia was 15g some 20 years ago. It is now 500% up on this at 79g per person, per day.
Let’s look at some other interesting facts:
Wild food plants do not store sugars as sucrose and while the research is still to be done, it is postulated that Australian wild plants that are challenged by extended periods of drought may contain trehalose, an important disaccharide that protects proteins from denaturing. Wild foods do contain free fructose and glucose and importantly, their sugar content includes a host of what are known as micro- or good sugars, for example, mannose, ribose, rhamnose etc. Many good sugars are bound to proteins and are associated with cellular membranes. They have now been discovered to be important as they regulate the permeability of our cell walls. This is used therapeutically in over-coming multi-drug resistance in chemotherapy. The role of good sugars in the normal condition is probably to enhance the absorption of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients and possibly to even run an energy dependent, biochemical pump to remove toxins which happen to get into our cells. But I digress.
Consider that globally, there are only a few plant species now used to produce table sugar or sucrose – sugar cane and sugar beet. Palm sugar is one other source. However, if sucrose producing plants were more common, wouldn’t we be cultivating them for production?
The real problem cause of obesity is the nutritional quality of our food supply even including the fresh produce now available.
We have been selecting for sweetness for decades. Even our vegetables have gone sweet; sweet corn, sweet potato, sweet peas, sugar snap peas, sweet tomatoes. Obviously fruits are major sources of sweetness with mangoes having 3% MORE sugar than those famous cola drinks (wt/wt).
The problem is that most of this sweetness in our produce is sucrose and it is a function of the fertilizers, irrigation and agricultural selection we have applied over the last 30 years.
High among the high sucrose fruits in addition to mangoes are grapes, kiwifruit, stone fruits, melons, pineapple and most dried fruits (dates in particular). Even that huge, sweet apple in Professor Brand Miller’s hand is a high sugar hit and further compromised as to its reduced content of fibre and antioxidants.
Sweetness and Size Up, Food Value Down
The list of occasional indulgences makes a huge dent in the fruits we have available and we effectively need to treat our fruits as occasional indulgences if we choose not to deal with the problem in other ways, as I will discuss later.
Have a look at those breakfast cereals they flog to children. Many are loaded with bad sugars. And often the nutritional panels are calculated, not analyzed and using the sugar content from tables compiled 20 or more years ago when sugars in dried fruit inclusions were not as high.
There are several consequences of all these bad sugars. Firstly, our produce is bred to be picked unripe and cool stored so that we can transport it green; oranges, tomatoes, bananas, pineapples, the list goes on. Alternatively, the fruits are just bullet-proof – apples now last for months, strawberries are rarely picked at their prime but early instead.
We know that vitamin C is highest in fruits before their peak ripeness and is even higher on the sunny face of a fruit as against the shaded side. Oranges are now a better source of folates than vitamin C unless in juice form when the fibre is stripped out, synthetic ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is added and sucrose can be boosted to get to a ‘natural’ level of sweetness of up to 10 or 12% in modern oranges. Remember there was little to NO sucrose in the wild ancestors of oranges (or any fruits) and the organic acids would impart a sourness that would swamp any sweetness.
Next we have high levels of water in our produce, water that makes our food nutritionally dilute by comparison to their wild food equivalents.
And the levels of antioxidants is going the same way as the vitamin C content – downwards.
We appear to have instinctive taste drives for sweetness and for fat. In a free-ranging situation these drives would have served us well and delivered all the important nutrients as we worked to satisfy the taste drives. However, it has been suggested that we also tune in to our body’s need for antioxidants and the reason we tend to over-eat is because we are simply not getting the antioxidants we need from the food we do eat. We are essentially feeding on consumable junk actively but unconsciously hunting for antioxidants, anti-inflammatories and other micro-nutrients, the value of which, leading edge nutritional scientists are only just beginning to appreciate.
So how to put all the above to the test?
Let me declare my interests here in a product called L.I.F.E. (Lyophilized Indigenous Food Essentials)™. I formulated a wild food blend (fruits, herbs and spices) to be a rich source of antioxidants from whole foods. My blend of 14 Australian wild foods was further enhanced with 12 other global ‘superfoods’ to the final super-nutritional blend.
I now call L.I.F.E. the ‘Antidote to Modern Foods.
Taken 30 to 60 minutes before meals, a 5g spoonful of L.I.F.E. in water curbs appetite and dampens sugar cravings. We have testimonials from sufferers of Type 2 diabetes, who regularly monitor their blood glucose levels (BGLs) and they tell us that this protocol stabilizes their BGL to a maximum of 7 or 8 as against the high teens if uncontrolled. We know that antioxidants overcome insulin resistance in our cells and this is clearly in play here too.
I could go on but I have more on this topic here and refer you to this article to explore this important issue. May I also urge you to read this highly informative essay on insulin (and inflammation) and why we need to control sugar’s influence on this important hormone.
We see weight loss, added energy, better mental clarity and focus, joint niggles can disappear and an over-all feeling of health is widely reported. L.I.F.E. has even been used by clinicians to support various therapies against rogue cells.
Sucrose consumption is on the rise. We need antioxidants from whole food sources as natural antidotes to our modern foods. And we need nutritional scientists of the calibre of the good Professor to look a little more closely at their ‘facts’.
Disclaimer: None of my research was funded by CSR or any other multi-national corporation. Reported results above may vary as we are all in a different biochemical space.