It has been a while since my last post. A lot has happened, we are still living in challenging times and have had to learn to live with a disease that is not going to go away.
Natural immunity remains undoubtedly the best way to defend ourselves against any virus. Immune systems are complex, there are many factors that need to be taken into consideration; some of which are in our control and others aren’t.
For example, we can’t do much about the genes that we’ve inherited, but we can control lifestyle factors such as exercise, sleep and what we eat.
Food has the ability to make us feel good or to make us sick. Sometimes what we believe is good for us is often toxic to our body’s as well as to our minds.
When we are feeling stressed, the typical ‘go to’ foods are generally high in starch and/or sugar.
Chocolate remains a favourite for many when they are feeling down. Unfortunately what we believe to be chocolate is nothing more than a mixture of sugar and dairy.
Understanding what effect sugar has on our bodily systems is critical.
When we eat something containing sugar, it either gets absorbed into our bloodstream or is deposited straight into our liver depending on what type of sugar it is.
There are two types of sugars, namely glucose and fructose.
Glucose is found in all major carbohydrates like starch and table sugar whereas fructose is found in fruit and vegetables.
Once you eat something containing glucose, it is absorbed into the blood stream and is distributed to various cells where it is metabolized into carbon dioxide, water and energy. Any excess is stored as fat.
The hormone responsible for removing the sugar from the blood is insulin. Without insulin removing the sugar effectively, we may develop type 2 diabetes. Fortunately this is not something that happens immediately, it’s a condition that may take years before it manifests.
The problem is that the more sugar and carbohydrate-rich foods we eat and the more fat we store, the more insulin is needed which often sets up a vicious cycle. The more this continues, the less sensitive our cells become to the effects of insulin which includes muscle cells, liver cells and brain cells
The body’s response is to produce even more insulin, eventually resulting in a condition known as insulin resistance.
Unfortunately it is still uncommon for doctors to check insulin levels. Your blood sugar level may be within the correct range making it seem as if everything is fine, yet you may be a ticking time bomb.
The more insulin resistant you are, the more sugar will be stored as visceral fat, and the harder it becomes to lose weight!
Fat is not a benign substance, it is metabolically active. The more internal fat you store, the more inflamed you are. The more Inflammation you have, the more susceptible you become to diseases ranging from diabetes, cardiovascular disease and dental disease to auto immune conditions, dementia and cancer.
Controlling sugar intake by restricting carbohydrates is critical to regaining baseline health. If sugar consumption is not curbed, insulin will remain elevated.
The caveat is that in certain cases insulin may remain elevated independently of sugar intake. Dairy products have the ability to increase insulin without affecting blood glucose.
Fructose is metabolized almost completely in the liver and small intestine and is directed toward replenishment of liver glycogen and triglyceride synthesis and works independently of insulin.
When our blood sugar is depleted like during intense exercise, the liver becomes the reservoir for energy. This evolutionary marvel prevents us from having to use muscle tissue for energy.
The problem arises when we consume more fructose than we can use.
If your liver is full of glycogen, the excess fructose you consume is stored in the liver’s fat cells. If this process continues, you eventually develop what’s known as a “fatty liver”.
I am sure many of you reading this have heard of foie gras. This French delicacy is the liver of a goose or a duck which has been force fed high calorie food through a tube in order to deliberately make them fat. The aim is to enlarge their liver to 10 times it’s normal volume.
This is an extreme example of a fatty liver.
Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations.
This is marked by liver inflammation which may progress to advanced scarring (cirrhosis) and eventually liver failure. This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use.
The problem begins with the overconsumption of foods that are rich in fructose.
High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is a sweetener commonly used to enhance the flavour of foods and beverages.
Diets rich in HFCS have been linked to fatty liver, high triglycerides, insulin resistance, high blood sugar, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
Processed foods such as fizzy drinks, candy, sauces, jams, fruit juices, fast foods, and commercially made ice cream and bread all contain this scourge.
These are the obvious products to avoid, however have you considered natural fructose-rich products such as fruit, vegetables and honey?
The American Heart Association recommends at least five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily.
One ripe banana contains 7g of fructose and 5g of glucose.
Therefore five bananas contain the equivalent of 60g of sugar – or 15 teaspoons of sugar!
*A study that examined the effects of eating a Fruit Rich Diet (FRD) over a period of 6 months noticed increased synthesis of fat in the liver, an increase in total blood cholesterol levels with a marked increase in small, dense LDL-C; increased triglyceride levels, reduced sensitivity to insulin, an increase in inflammatory bio markers and an increase in visceral fat.
In contrast, patients in the low fruit diet group had an overall improvement in their condition.
A FRD has the ability to cause NAFLD and worsens the condition in patients with pre-existing fatty liver.
According to the findings of the study, fruit intake increases the fat content of the liver cells.
Our ancestors did not have access to limitless supplies of exotic fruits, in fact they would’ve been lucky if they could find basic fruit like apples. presuming they were in season.
Heirloom apples are small and tart and are unpleasant to eat. The peel is hard and fibrous and the flesh so rich in pectin that it is incredibly sour! Any fruit tree had to fight really hard to survive and finding ripe fruit would have been a treat and a rare occurrence.
Even if our ancestors would have eaten five apples in one day, their daily energy expenditure would have ensured that all the sugar from the fruit would’ve been used up.
Modern apples are genetically modified to be as sweet and as delicious as possible and are available all year round.
I have previously spoken about the difference between whole foods versus processed foods, using the example of a whole apple versus apple juice.
Eating the entire apple means that the fibre-rich skin prevents the sugars in the fruit from being absorbed all at once.
A glass of apple juice however contains more sugar than a glass of Coke!
Furthermore ALL dried fruit should be avoided as they are concentrated forms of fructose. For example 100g of fresh mango contains 15g of sugar whereas the equivalent dried contains 73g!!
Also, certain dried fruits have cane sugar added to them as in the case of many dried cranberries, so it’s critical to read the labels.
Does this mean all fruit are bad? Not at all. It’s a case of reducing the consumption of high-sugar fruits, rather electing to eat raw vegetables and choosing fruit such as strawberries, avocado, tomatoes and fresh coconut.
By all means eat the occasional banana or grape but realize that if you are insulin resistant or are battling to lose weight, fruit is not your friend.
If you are worried about missing out on vitamins, don’t be. Eating a variety of vegetables and herbs will provide you with all the vitamins you need.
In fact broccoli contains more vitamin C than oranges and has additional sulforophane, antioxidants and fiber.
Your body needs to learn how to use the stored visceral fat.
Unfortunately there is no magic pill.
The best way of achieving this is to deplete your body of all sugar and to create an environment where the body is forced to use fat for fuel.
This method can reverse type 2 diabetes and will make your body sensitive to the effect of insulin again.
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