Let’s talk a bit about sugar



We all know what sugar is, and that it’s bad for us. UK government is even considering a “sugar tax” due to constantly increasing obesity, especially among children. It’s also damaging our teeth, while excess fructose causing harm to our liver. It may be causing addiction and might even act as a neurotoxin for our brain. But oh my, it makes things taste so good, and these days it’s added to all sorts of foods (for that reason, of course).

We are encouraged to consume less than 5% of our calories from sugar. But not all sugars are the same. Sugar, or glucose is vital for our brain function and to maintain energy levels, that’s the reason we crave it so much. Every single cell in our body needs sugar. But, you guessed it right, not the white powder!

I was actually shocked to see traffic light system on a bag of chestnuts, showing that sugars in them are quite high (yellow). It’s a chestnut, for goodness sake! No one opened it and added a teaspoon of white powder in there. For example, one banana has around 16 grams of sugar which is 3-4 teaspoons. Looks scary? But again it’s not the bad kind of sugar!

If it is a whole food, please don’t let the  sugar word confuse you. Actually, anything we eat – even if it’s only fat or protein – is turned into sugar anyway, that’s how much our bodies need it.

We should only limit added sugars and processed foods, and not natural sugars occurring in fruit and other foodstuff. For example, fruit supplies those vital sugars in a perfect package – filled with water, fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. And fruit is not going to make you fat or unhealthy, quite the opposite! It can actually reduce your chance of developing diabetes and heart disease. (Remember, since we were children we have been told to “eat your fruits and veggies”! And it doesn’t mean just broccoli. Although broccoli is pretty good).

So next time you crave something sweet, feel free to have a piece of fruit! Even if you’re still worried about the total amount of your consumed sugar or glycemic index, it’s a hundred times better than cake or sweets.

P.S. I like this video from Dr Greger about fruit, check it out here or copy and paste it http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-fruit-is-too-much


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Should we or should we not have green smoothies?


Health nuts have discovered these green concoctions years ago but they still gain their popularity! However, lately they’ve been criticised for quite a few reasons:

  • Green smoothies are high in sugar and have high glycemic index, therefore they can spike your blood sugar levels (and then the sugar “crash” comes)
  • Blending destroys some beneficial fibres – we would never be able to naturally chew foods into this consistency, so we are depriving our digestive tract and the friendly bacteria of these fibres
  • They can contain ingredients that don’t combine well together – starches, sugars, fats, acids, and it might compromise our digestion
  • We don’t chew these liquidized ingredients, so the food doesn’t mix with digestive enzymes in our saliva in the mouth and might not digest properly
  • They might be less filling than a proper meal as we drink them quickly and “pack” them tightly in the stomach so it is less full
  • Greens and fruit are highly sprayed with pesticides so we are consuming more of them while eating them raw and thinking we are eating healthily
  • Eating large amounts of raw kale/broccoli might interfere with our thyroid function, while spinach (and some other greens) are high in oxalates – these are anti-nutrients that might rob us of calcium, iron and could even contribute to kidney stones…

Have I put you off already?

Please, don’t write them off too quickly… First of all, if you are already making any type of smoothies, go ahead make them green as they will be far more nutritious and most likely still very tasty!

In the ideal world we wouldn’t need smoothies – but we don’t live in it, do we? So…

  • If you’re worried about sugar – instead of juice, use water or almond/coconut milk and choose less sugary fruit – e.g. berries, apples, pears, kiwis, and add nuts, seeds, avocados, oats or some protein powder that will slow down sugar release. But don’t forget we need sugar to survive – not the white powdered one but in the form of fresh foods like fruit! Lots of water and fibre will prevent sugar spikes too.
  • If you make green smoothies every day – alternate between your greens: instead of spinach or kale use lettuce, celery, parsley, coriander, lamb’s lettuce, basil, watercress, rocket (if you can take it!)
  • When drinking your smoothie, really savour it, don’t just gulp it like water! You can even chew it a bit – this will improve the feeling of satiety and overall digestion. Maybe some of them are not the best food combinations, but they still win hands down against a bag of crisps, especially if they don’t cause much digestive complaints to you (or to those around you)!
  • And don’t make smoothies your only food! (Unless you’re on the detox for a few days – in that case, talk to me about it!) You’ll get all your different fibres and cooked food at other meals, while you’ll give yourself a boost with the amazing antioxidants, water, vitamins and minerals that are in your smoothie!
  • Of course, choose organic to avoid pesticides – that works for any type of foods, not just smoothies! Or if you can, grow your own. If you can’t afford it, I believe you are still doing more good than harm by getting all the nutrients that are in there.