It is not easy to avoid refined sugars this or any other time of the year. Indulging a bit in the spirit of the Holidays is a healthy tradition that bonds us in friendships and families. But, we all agree that our sweet tooth can get us in trouble. True, we are genetically programmed to like sugar for survival purposes. But, according to the principles of Glycobiology1, refined sugars are not the best thing to satisfy our sugar cravings. Best to indulge in natural sugars found in all foods, especially vegetables, fruits and nuts.
Why is it that we are not satisfied with natural sugars? It is because the refined sugars that take their place are addicting.2 Part of the problem is in the growth of intestinal organisms that thrive with these sugars and continue to demand the same. They send signals to the brain for us to oblige them.3 Another big factor is our taste buds in mouth and gut getting used to high doses of sugar which later impede the appreciation of the less dramatic natural sugars. How can you enjoy a carrot when you are used to milk shakes and candy?
The results of a study at Brigham Young University were released December 19th 2013 in the Salt Lake Tribune.4 They showed that 70% of the veggies given to children end up in the trash. By paying them some pocket change they ate them a lot more. But, they reverted to their picky, anti-veggie ways after the bribes stopped.
What causes this? Our children, as well as the rest of us, cannot taste natural sugars when we are addicted to refined sugars. Unless we address this national addiction we will not success in curving the epidemic of obesity that is breaking our health care system.
1 J. Science cover issue March 23rd 2001
2 “Public health: The toxic truth about sugar,” Journal Nature 2012;482:27
3 “The Tuning of the Gut Nervous System by Commensal Microbiota,” J. Gastroenterology2013;145:1193
4 “Taste receptors of the gut: emerging roles in health and disease,” J. Gut 2013;63:179