You Really Don't Need Sugar!

The balance of microbes in our intestines can impact health in so many ways – from obesity to thrush, from eczema to migraines, from IBS to chronic fatigue. The list is almost endless, such is the vital role that beneficial bacteria play in supporting health. If, for a number of reasons, beneficial bacteria are depleted, unhelpful bacteria, yeasts and pathogens are able to proliferate, potentially leading to symptoms such as those listed above.

A backbone in the Nutritionhelp approach to balancing those intestinal microbes is to avoid all added sugars in the diet, not least as it is the major food source for intestinal yeasts such as Candida albicans. We opt to continue to include some carbohydrates in our recommended diets, since the state of ketosis (the metabolic process that occurs when the body does not have enough glucose for energy) can feed the intestinal yeast just as well as glucose. However, these carbohydrates need to be small amounts of the more starchy vegetables such as sweet potato and carrots, or unrefined grains, and be carefully monitored to ensure that the client does not display a sensitivity or intolerance.

Since we recommend that all sugar is to be avoided, it is not unusual for clients to talk about getting back to a ‘normal’ diet! However, with increased awareness about the perils and pitfalls of sugar, we need to be aware that avoiding sugar in its many forms, is supportive of health in more ways than just reducing unhelpful intestinal yeast. An article by Dr Mercola called Sugar Industry Secrets Exposed (see discusses the strong associations between sugar consumption and the rising rates of obesity and major diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. The article comprehensively covers the role sugar plays in these diseases, but I would like to bring our attention to the part of the food industry that is brought to light. I am regularly telling clients that the food industry is not neutral – they want us to buy their products and thus will work on ingredients to make us want those foods again and again. A certain level of sugar, salt and fat creates what is known as the ‘Bliss Point’, and if manufacturers can combine ingredients to provide that taste, then they will have us hooked. Let Mercola explain:

The amount of sugar in processed foods is no accident—the industry goes to great lengths to scientifically calculate the exact combination of ingredients that will make you crave a product, which it calls the Bliss Point. Dr. Howard Moskowitz, a long-time food industry consultant, is known as “Dr. Bliss.” A Harvard-trained mathematician, Moskowitz tests people’s reactions and finds the optimal amount of sugar for a product—essentially, he helps them find the “Goldilocks” zone. And he’s made the sugar industry billions.11 Moskowitz’s path to mastery began when he was hired by the US Army to research how to get soldiers to consume more rations in the field. Over time, soldiers were not consuming adequate rations, finding their ready-to-eat meals so boring that they’d toss them away, half-eaten, and not get all the calories they needed. Through this research, Moskowitz discovered “sensory-specific satiety.” What this means is, big flavors tend to overwhelm your brain, which responds by suppressing your desire to eat more. However, this sensory-specific satiety is overridden by complex flavor profiles that pique your taste buds enough to be alluring, but don’t have a distinct, overriding single flavor that tells your brain to stop eating. The magic formula gives you “the bliss point,” enabling the processed food industry to make very deliberate efforts to get you to overeat. Goldilocks combinations of sugar, salt and fat are what make processed foods so addictive.

So think again about what a ‘normal’ diet might look like! Going back to processed foods, laden with sugar (including many packaged savoury meals and condiments) may really not be the best way to support health and reduce the likelihood of serious diseases.


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