It is not as hard to keep track of your sugar consumption as you might think it is. There is a relatively simple equation involved: take a look at the label, note how many grams of sugar are in the product, divide it by four and you have the number of teaspoons of sugar you’ll be consuming when you eat that product.
This gives us a more comprehensible method of controlling our sugar intake. The myth that fat-free foods mean you won’t put on weight is rapidly losing credibility as people become more aware of how food is metabolised.
If you want to improve not only your weight but your overall health, pH health recommend that you shift your attention toward your sugar intake, and how other substances convert to sugar.
Carbs convert into sugar too
This means that it is not only the grams of sugar listed on a nutritional label that you must take into account; for example, carbohydrates, when not used up by the body can also convert into sugar and then fat within the body. Not all forms of sugar are bad for you and your body does actually need some kinds of sugar, but it can use some kinds in far better ways than others.
We should not demonise glucose - it is actually useful to the brain, and your body gets a good supply of it by converting the long-chain sugars (polysaccharides) into simple sugars. One such simple sugar (also known as a monosaccharide) is glucose, which is a very beneficial source of energy.
However, when you aren’t controlling your sugar intake well – and especially when consuming a lot of refined, processed sugar, it can and will be stored in the body as fat. Essentially, you are giving the body more than it knows what to do with, but this excess has to go somewhere. In an ideal world it would be flushed directly out, but unfortunately this is not the case!
How sugar is converted to fat and distributed within the body
Let’s say, for example, that you have consumed too much glucose. Your liver has the ability to hold only a certain amount of sugar, and once you surpass this, it has no choice but to convert the excess into fatty acids. These are then passed over to the bloodstream, which transports them all over the body and they are deposited in various places as fat.
We all know where our ‘trouble spots’ are, and it varies from person to person. Generally it is different according to gender; women particularly notice excess fat appearing around the bottom, thighs, stomach and breasts.
It isn’t all about appearance though. Although our focus is often on the exterior, it is important to know that the process doesn’t stop there. This fatty tissue (known as adipose tissue) can only store so much at any given time and when you’ve really over-consumed, the fatty acids still floating around the system get deposited in other places: your organs.
Once the liver, kidneys and heart start to collect fat, we are putting them under great stress and reducing their functionality. Our blood pressure can start to creep up, our metabolism becomes more sluggish and our general immunity starts to fail.
Another issue is that we the body will create too much insulin, an important hormone for your digestion. When you eat simple carbs, insulin is produced. We call this a ‘spike’. When your insulin spikes, the fat-burn stops in order that the sugar consumed can be used for energy; this is why the insulin distributes the sugar into muscles. Our muscles can become full of this kind of energy, but if we’re not using it up, the excess will simply turn into fat.
Commonly consumed foods that are converting to sugar in your body are:
- White/wheat-based breads
- White potatoes and crisps
- Breakfast cereals
- White rice
- Fruit juices, sugary drinks, wine and beer
- High fructose corn syrup (in many packaged food products)
You might think that natural fruit juices are OK, but even the ‘healthy’ ones and contain a lot of sugar. The sugar levels in the blood reduce once the sugary load has been deposited around your body, and when they drop you will experience a sudden increase in your appetite. You’re likely to start craving sugary foods again, and at the same time as you experience an increased appetite, the hormone cortisol (also known as a stress hormone) is produced by the body.
This is because it signals to your liver that it’s time to release sugar stored in order that your blood sugar levels can rise again. The combination of both of these things results in repeated spikes in blood sugar levels and the cycle repeats.
There are carbohydrates that don’t cause this cycle of high blood sugar in the body:
Fruits such as bananas, apples, pears, oranges and grapes are much better for you. You can also eat rice provided that it is brown or basmati rice, and sweet potatoes or yams are better than white potatoes.
Whole-wheat pastas are fine and for breakfast, oatmeal and bran cereals won’t cause the heightened insulin response you’re trying to avoid. Whole grains like bulgur wheat are best, and you can eat lentils, peas and beans without issue.
The rule of thumb is to avoid convenience foods; the more processed it is the worse it is for your health in general. Such foods contain synthetic sweeteners and these act similarly to sugar in the body. pH health recommend that you follow a diet based on freshly cooked whole foods as often as possible, and that you try to remain alkaline. Read our Ebook on alkalinity for advice and guidance on this subject.