A friend of mine and owner of East Ormond Beach CrossFit, Melissa Kiel, recently did a 6 week nutrition challenge with some of the members of EOB. She asked me if I’d be willing to interject here and there with some advice, which, of course, I was more than happy to deliver. In this video, I cover a range of topics related to sugar all relating back to how to use the power of informed choice to set you on the path to being the best version of yourself every day. So, what are some of these decision points that we can use to make better choices?
The first that I talk about in the video is the concept of nutrient density. Sugar, like any other macronutrient, requires nutrients (vitamins, mineral, enzymes, etc.) to digest and assimilate into the body. It is extremely commonplace in today’s “food” production environment to create edible items that are loaded with refined flour, which quickly becomes sugar, and sugar, along with a slew of chemicals that are fodder for another post. These edible piles of sweet junk require more nutrients to digest and assimilate than they deliver. So, in essence you are at a net nutrient loss every time you consume these products. Nutrient stores are depleted and we literally starve ourselves while becoming fat. Sweet deal, right? The advice? Well, it starts with choosing whole foods and then it continues with choose whole foods that are most nutrient dense. In the veggies realm, we’re talking about dark and vibrant colors; smaller berries over larger fruits (more skin per volume). These are your best choices when considering nutrient density. Starches are simply heavily branched chains of sugars packed into a storage vessel of sorts. Think potatoes, beans, root vegetables, and grains. The function of a starch is to be a storehouse of sugar for the plant to use at a later time, so inherently, they have a hard time keeping up on the nutrient density scale of micronutrients per gram of digestible carbohydrate.
Dysbiosis is a term describing the imbalance in gut flora that is present in so many people. I see this in practice all the time. The effects of this are far reaching. As you may expect, there are gut symptoms such as flatulence, diarrhea, or constipation. Leaky gut syndrome is also a common problem that is seen in conjunction, leading to immune sensitivity and chronic widespread inflammation in the body. All of this maelstrom in the gut leads to an array of symptoms, from heightened pain, fatigue, the disaster pants described above, and psychological ills from depression to schizophrenia. I mention this in the sugar conversation because sugar, and especially processed flour, feed this dysbiotic situation like gasoline on a fire.
Another concept that I touch on is the addictive potential of sugar. Many studies have been done on the effects of sugar on the brain and the overwhelming conclusions are that the same reward centers in the brain that are activated when doing excitatory elicit drugs are activated when consuming sugar.
For those looking to heal their guts, bodies, and brains from a life of excess sugar consumption looking into a ketogenic diet may be something worth your efforts. Obviously, I can’t blanket statement this with the variance in metabolic health and disease states, but for a large portion of the population, this is a direction worth looking into. More on ketogenesis and a ketogentic diet to come in future posts!