Today we start a 3 week series on the topic of sugar. I find this subject to be one of the most confusing, miss-understood and highly controversial in the world of healthy living. That is why we are going to really dive into the science of what sugar is, how it works in your body, when, where, and why you shouldn’t consume it and how you can kick it from your diet for good!
So let’s get started…
What is the purpose of sugar in our bodies?
Do you remember the phrase “the mighty-mighty mitochondria” from early high school? You probably learned it while learning about the human cell and it really does live up to it’s name. In fact, your mitochondrial health is extremely important. It is responsible for the digestion that happens within the human cell and aids greatly in making energy. And guess what… the mitochondria thrives/lives off of sugar. Good news, right!
Well kind of… you see just as sugar has a role in our bodies that is positive and beneficial, it also has some not so great benefits within our body, but we’ll go into that later.
So sugar is the food that the powerhouse of our cells live off… so then how does the mitochondria get the sugar? Well you see, all carbohydrates that we eat turn into sugars when not used. It kind of goes like this…
I eat an apple… that apple get’s digested into my body and some of the carbohydrates (fiber) keep going through my system and exit… well, the only way possible. The other carbohydrates get used up by my body… some go to be stored in my muscles as glycogen for use when needed. This includes everything from using muscles while driving (your forearm) or sprinting across a football field. Some carbohydrates then get used for other things, such as cell health (the mitochondria), but that really is a small percentage, The rest of the carbohydrates… they get stored, as fat!!!
The above paragraph is why I believe the topic of sugar and ultimately carbohydrates is so miss-understood. If I were to ask someone what percentage of carbohydrates they should be consuming throughout their day, they would probably give me an answer around 50%… and if they didn’t know but I led them to the average health information websites (government funded health information)… they would get the answer of around 50-60%.
We don’t really need that many carbohydrates, because what doesn’t get used turns to sugar. And whatever sugar doesn’t get used…. well, it turns to fat.
The beauty of sugar though is that it is vital to our health, however it must be consumed in certain ways, at certain times and with certain foods. When consumed correctly…. sugar can help our hormones be balanced, our energy levels maintained and our brain thriving. In fact, that last thing you read… “our brain thriving” is what we will be discussing tomorrow.
So today I need you to do me a favor… track your consumption of sugar. And I don’t just mean white sugar, because as we discussed today, sugar is really all carbohydrates. Whether in a note book or on a website, write down what you eat and when you eat. Either highlight the items that are sugars (look this up if necessary) or write sugar next to them. The point is to realize what you are eating and how much of it is sugar/carbohydrates. Come back tomorrow with your food tracker and we’ll talk about your brain on sugar.
P.S. if you want to learn a little more about the mitochondria… check out this video.