Good morning everyone! Dr. Glen Reed here from The Wellhouse in Nanaimo, BC, with another Monday morning motivation. Today, I’m going to be a bit tough on you all as we delve into the effects of processed sugar on our bodies and, importantly, on our children’s bodies.
The Sweet and Sour of Sugar
Let’s start with the basics: what is sugar? Sugar is a carbohydrate that our bodies need for energy. Carbohydrates break down into sugars, starches, and fibers – so far, so good. The sugar industry would have us believe that once we metabolize any food source into that basic glucose molecule, it doesn’t matter where it came from – glucose is glucose and has the same effect on our bodies.
There’s some truth in this, but it misses the bigger picture. The way our body metabolizes that first food source into glucose can have drastically different effects on our health.
The Tale of Two Carbs
Consider two ways our bodies process carbohydrates:
- Long-chain starches – healthy carbs that we should consume. These are tough for our bodies to break down, meaning they metabolize slowly and don’t cause a big spike in blood sugar. They also trigger a response that tells our brain we’ve had enough, shutting down the desire to eat more.
- Simple sugars – found in things like Halloween candy or high-fructose corn syrup. These simple molecules break down quickly, leading to a spike in blood sugar. This process bypasses the normal metabolic pathways, so we don’t get the usual insulin response that tells our brain we’ve had enough. Instead, eating these sugars triggers a release of dopamine, the “feel-good” molecule that makes us want to eat more and more sugar.
So, while both processes result in glucose in our bloodstream, the journey there can have very different impacts on our health.
The Bitter Impact of Sugar
When we consume too much refined sugar, it sets off a chain of events in our bodies that can be devastating. Here are just a few of the health issues linked to high sugar intake:
- Insulin resistance, leading to type 2 diabetes
- Obesity and related issues
- Metabolic syndrome
- Increased risk of cancer
- Increased levels of ‘bad’ cholesterol
- Increased inflammation, leading to joint pain
- Changes in memory processing and learning ability
- Increased incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
The list goes on. Simply put, excessive sugar is harming us and our children. I cannot stress this enough.
A Parenting Challenge
So, why do we give sugary treats to our children? Honestly, I struggle with this question myself. My kids will undoubtedly enjoy a few pieces of Halloween candy tonight. But it’s a parenting challenge, isn’t it?
I have my thoughts on how to handle it, but I won’t claim to have all the answers. What I do hope is that this information encourages you to have a conversation with your partner and your children about why we consume sweets like Halloween candy and if there could be healthier alternatives.
Maybe we should consider trading in some of that candy for a toy or another non-sugar treat. Just some food for thought.
Stay tuned for the next part of this discussion where we’ll delve deeper into how sugar affects our bodies and what we can do about it. Remember, knowledge is power, especially when it comes to our health and well-being! Have a great week ahead, everyone.