Sugar and your Diet

Sugar in the Diet.
A friend of mine is currently purging sugar from his diet for the next month.  A great gift you can give yourself is to free yourself from the possible addictive nature of high sugar foods.  This got me thinking about some of the common questions and issues regarding sugar that arise during my Clinical practice regarding sugar.  Hope they help you!
o       It has been well established that consumption of sugar can stimulate over consumption by increasing reward mechanism feedback in the brain (Kanoski 2012).
o       This suggests that hippocampal-dependent modulatory control of feeding behavior can be compromised by typical Western foods including saturated fats and simple sugars (Kanoski 2012).
o       Sugar sweetened beverages have been implicated in high calorie intake due to low satiety and low nutrient density (Maersk, Belza et al. 2012).
o       There is recent suggestions that sugar addiction although real does not lead to obesity or increase the risk of developing obesity (Peters 2011).  Seemingly contrarily, it was suggested that food addiction is an underlying subtype of obesity, however, upon further investigation scores on the Yale Food Addiction Scale suggestive of food addiction were more likely to be associated with co-morbid diagnosis of depression, binge-eating disorder and ADHD compared to their age and weight equivalent controls (Davis, Curtis et al. 2011).  This suggests that individuals with these co-morbidities likely have a higher propensity to use food for self-medication (Davis, Curtis et al. 2011).
o       The AHA released a statement that consumption of not more than 25 g of sugar for women and 37.5 g sugar for men per day respectively (Johnson, Appel et al. 2009).  Consumption of more than this amount increases risk of heart disease independent of the weight gain that would most likely also occur.
o       Therefore, it’s important to reduce intake of sweetened beverages, simple sugar containing food items and shift intake to more slowly-digestible and resistant starches (Aller, Abete et al. 2011).  These have been shown to protect people from the weight gain that occurs with higher sugar intake.  The confusing part is, many well meaning advisors will tell clients that carbohydrate amounts are the problem and not specifically the amount of simple easily available carbohydrates (remember that fiber is technically part of carbohydrates, but not available).  Furthermore, consuming protein along with carbohydrates acts to slow the digestion and absorption of the carbohydrate.  Specifically, protein containing beverages significantly increased satiety and were associated with higher nutrient density (Maersk, Belza et al. 2012).
o       Finally, if we consume a diet high in low glycemic index foods it is more likely that we will meet our nutrient recommendations including adequate but not excessive calorie intakes (Louie, Buyken et al. 2012).
Therefore, our take home message, based on the evidence should be that we need to consciously decrease our intake of simple sugars and focus on more complex and less processed fruit and vegetable sugar and starches.  We should increase our intake of protein, fibers and healthy fats in place of the higher levels of simple sugars, both of which can result in significant health benefits.
I hope you enjoy this section.  Look for my next Blog post in the near future!
Take care.
Dan

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