Sugar: The Bitter Truth

sugar cubes The low-fat diet for the last 30 some odd years has not only been all the rave, but in fact endorsed by health institutions and nutritionists alike. The one thing that has been overlooked, however, could be the one reason we have the highest obesity and  other metabolic syndrome (hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes) rates than ever before.

Dr. Robert Lustig, author of The Real Truth About Sugar is an advocate of bringing the truth about our "low-fat" diets to light. The truth is that even though our foods have been scientifically manipulated to have lower amounts of fat (whatever type it may be), they (the food industry) are replacing those fats with carbohydrates or fructose, which doubles as fat and sugar. What's more? He's come to prove that the effects of fructose have nothing to do with calories, and everything to do with our body's aversion to it.

Dr. Lustig's research shows that the major problems with fructose as a posed to glucose (the main source of energy for life of all living things) has to do with its inability to communicate with the brain, and its properties that, just like alcohol, are metabolized in the liver and act more as a poison to our bodies than a source of energy.

Why he says its okay to eat fructose from whole fruits: Mother nature cleverly packaged its fructose in much more fiber so that the insulin response is better regulated and the sugar metabolizes more quickly than if you ate the fructose alone, not to mention the additional benefit of micronutrients that are in natural fruits.

The scary bit: We don't realize it or even think to check, but sugar is in everything! From hamburger buns to pretzels, some form of sugar slips its way in, and no one's the wiser (of course not, who would think high fructose corn syrup would be the 3rd leading ingredient in most store bought whole wheat bread, a supposedly healthful food).

high fructose corn syrup in whole wheat bread

Some Solutions? 

Get rid of sugary liquids: They are the main source of over sugar overdose; even fruit juice strips whole fruits of their fiber, leaving only high amounts of fructose behind.

Eat carbohydrates with fiber: Fiber helps to slow down the absorption of the carbohydrates in your body, moves the food through your system faster, and also tells you  you are full sooner.

Wait 20 minutes for 2nd portions: Often times we immediately reach for a second helping that are bodies don't have enough time to tell us that we have had enough. Give yourself sometime in between helpings, more times than not, you'll feel full and realize you don't need or even want that second portion. Save any leftovers and enjoy them again when your actually hungry.

Buy your screen time minute-by-minutes with physical activity: If you plan on watching T.V. for 30 minutes, try to schedule in a walk or some sort of exercise for 30 minutes as well.

For more tips to reduce sugar consumption, read Food Republic's The Great Sugar Debate.

Why is exercise important? Unlike many people think, it's not about burning more calories than you consume (if this was the case, we'd all need to be Forrest Gumping our way through life). It is about:

  • Improving skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity: Insulin works better at the muscle, therefore bringing the need for high insulin levels down.
  • Reducing stress: Exercise is the most natural way for us to release stress, and when stress reduces, appetite reduces.  And as many of us know, stress is another major player in weight gain and obesity.

So while Americans thought they were safe in sticking to a recommended "low-fat" diet, the high numbers of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease say otherwise; the culprit has secretly slipped in to almost everything we eat leaving us all quite confused.

To learn more about Sugar's bitter truth, watch Dr. Robert Lustig's video below:

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How To Recover From A Binge

Photo: roboppy We’ve all done it, binged on foods to the point of feeling a little sick. After gorging on high sugar and fatty foods you usually feel awful: bloated, irritable, gassy, overly full, and guilty. The physical effects feel bad---but if you are trying to lose weight the guilt can be the worse part. Get over the remorsefulness and get back on track with these helpful tips. 

Photo: cattisb


Don’t starve yourself. The next morning when you’re experiencing the side effects of over eating, it’s important to consume a low-fat nutritious breakfast. This will rev up the metabolism and prevent another binge. Lots of vegetables and lean protein coupled with a big glass of water usually does the trick. And remember,you can’t change the past, but you can prepare for the future by becoming aware of the behavior and adding more whole nutritious foods to your daily diet.

Exercise. Generally, a binge involves consuming a large amount of carbohydrates (this includes drinking a sizable amount of alcohol). When we consume excess carbohydrates our bodies store the excess glycogen in our liver and muscles. This is a crucial process, because we need the stored glycogen for energy. Nonetheless, when a super abundance of carbohydrates is eaten the body stores the excess as fat. So burning some of the stored glycogen is critical when getting over a bad binge.

Reflect on why you pigged out. Sometimes over eating is triggered because you were busy throughout the day and forgot to eat, and by the time you got the chance to sit down for a meal, you went overboard. However, other times a binge is triggered to cope with emotions. Take the day after a gorging session to ask yourself, “What is going on in my life that I must turn to food to make myself feel better?”. Then, confront those problems that have you upset and try to find other outlets that do not involve eating to excess.

For more Health & Wellness stories:

 How to Lighten Up Any Recipe

5 Do's and Don'ts Before Bed

Teens and Calorie Counting

Safe Grilling for Summer


5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Summer

In our youth, Summertime meant freedom. It was three-months to hang out with friends or go on family vacations without a care in the world. Time for play, sun and swim. No obligations, no bills to pay or families to support. However, as we get older, when 9 months of school changes to 12 months of working and our worries start piling up like old magazines, we forget to take the time to refresh ourselves like we did as youngin's and it's time we did something about that. Here are 5 easy ways to get the most out of your Summer. photo: Brian Auer

1. Get Active!: Exercise doesn't have to be laborious and now that the weather has brightened up, go outside and get some fresh O2. There are oh so many ways to break a sweat in the great outdoors and have fun in the process. Ride a bike, play frisbee, volleyball, or soccer. Anything that gets you out, gets you moving, and boosts those endorphins!

2. Socialize: Go out with friends, family or to meet new people. Summer is the time to be spontaneous and allow yourself to have some fun. Socializing is an excellent way to increase happiness and self-confidence, not to mention the absolute best way to network and maybe find that perfect job.


3. Try new things: Summer is the perfect time to try new recipes and new foods. So go ahead! Try that new restaurant you've been dying to go to or cook up an unusual farmer's market find. With the abundance of fresh produce in these warmer months, the possibilities are endless.

4. Stay sunblocked: Gone are the days of baby oil and 4 spf. We all want that sun-kissed summer glow, but not at the price of our health. The best is to wear at least 30 SPF and bring a hat in case you will be in prolonged sunlight. You can still achieve that healthful glow, without being burnt to a crisp. Your skin will thank it will be around and youthful for much longer.


photo: jen_marq

5. Make time for a personal project or hobby: With longer hours of daylight and often times shorter hours in the office, Summer is a great time to start something that's just for you. What makes you happy? Where do your talents really shine? Give yourself the "me-time" to do those things and you will be surprised at what you can accomplish and how gratifying it can be.

For more by Ashley Beck, click here.

Best of the Week: Our Most Popular Stories

This week, we kicked back with a perfectly steeped and sweetened glass of iced tea. The tricks are in the details, from the freshness of the tea to the temperature of the water. The same can be said for Bluegrass Soy Sauce, brewed by Bourbon Barrel Foods in Louisville, KY, in true Southern style. Another ingredient worth paying attention to: Argan oil (it's not just a basket ingredient on Chopped). Use in place of your normal oil of choice, and make things interesting. We were all about taking things easy, from repurposing leftovers to getting a full night's sleep--there are worse ways to spend a week.

How to Make the Perfect Pitcher of Iced Tea

The Modern Pantry: Bourbon Barrel Foods

5 Do's and Dont's Before Bed

Back to Basics: Argan Oil

Leftover Lunch: Zucchini 2 Ways


5 Do's and Don'ts Before Bed

Ever find yourself tossing and turning at night? Find it hard to fall asleep in the first place? Or maybe you wake up in the middle of the night and feel hopeless about getting back to sleep. If you answered yes to any of these, it may be because of what you do right before going to bed that affects your sound sleep. It may even be exactly the things you believe are helping you sleep that are actually doing just the opposite.  And with studies showing that a lack of sleep can lead to weight gain, we've decided to give you a few tips on how to get to sleep faster, stay asleep throughout the night, and feel refreshed in the morning.

1. Don't drink anything an hour before you go to bed. Especially alcohol. You may fall right to sleep after a few glasses of wine but the likelihood of waking up in the middle of the night is quite good. Think it's easy to fall asleep again? Well, good luck. What's more, drinking any liquids right before bed will increase your chances of needing to get up in the middle of the night to pee, which will also be quite disruptive to your beauty sleep.

2. Do drink an herbal tea an hour or two before bed to help put you in a relax state of being. A nice soothing decaffeinated tea like peppermint or chamomile are the perfect way to put your mind and body at ease after a long day, and prepare yourself for a night of restful sleep.

3. Don't watch T.V. or use electronic devices 30 minutes before going to bed. T.V. stimulates the mind and will have you up thinking all night. The harsh light from electronics (i.e. computer, iPad) disrupts your circadian rhythm (the biological clock that allows you to go to sleep and wake up at the times necessary for work, school, etc...) and therefore will make it harder for your brain to realize its time to fall asleep.

4. Do bore yourself. Read or do something monotonous that will bore you right to sleep. Reading something suspenseful or doing something that allows your mind to race will only prolong the process of falling asleep (If not keep you up reading until all hours of the night).

photo by: bunchadogs & susan

5. Don't exercise or take a hot bath right before bed. Do these things at least an hour or two before. The reason being that they both can indeed help you sleep better, but done too close to bedtime will leave you hot and bothered. Ideally you want your body temperature to be cool for the optimum sleeping ability.

Although we may not all need our 8 hours of sleep, we do need a solid night of sleep. And by abiding by these 5 simple rules, you should increase your chances on a better night's sleep and an even better day ahead. Not to mention a slimmer waistline.

For more on Health & Wellness, click here.