Now that we've all made it through yet another year of the oh-so-overindulgent holiday season, it's time for some resolutions. Here's one I think you need to seriously consider: kick your sugar habit to the curb!
Cm'on, Aimee… I hear you moan.
I know, Im like a broken record.
But, listen up, scientists at Columbia University Medical Center just published a study basically showing that sugar makes us senile (check out the New York Times coverage of the study). The researchers found that even moderate elevations in blood sugar levels cause cognitive decline. Blood sugar levels in our body need to maintain a delicate balance and shouldn't veer too high or too low. Blood sugar rises most commonly when we eat too many unnatural foods that are loaded with processed white sugar like white bread, pasta, soda, cake, Gatorade and cookies.
What happens is, because these foods lack any substantial nutrients(in nutritional terms, these foods are said to have a high glycemic index), the second they enter your mouth, they cause your blood sugar to spike. Science shows that repeatedly eating such foods predisposes us to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, kidney disease and now senility. Yikes!
So its imperative we eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible (meaning they are not made in some factory or laboratory and contain no added and uber-unnatural sugars). These types of foods, like whole grain breads and pastas, organic animal protein, nuts, fruits and veggies are jam-packed with the nutrition our bodies need to function optimally. Yes, a lot of these natural foods also contain sugar, but you see, they also contain imperative fats and fiber that our body needs and utilizes to metabolize the sugars more slowly keeping our blood sugar on a much needed even keel. Make sense?
Traditional Oriental Medicine has been touting that a poor diet not only makes our mind “foggy” but it causes a host of diseases and illnesses. To put it plainly, if we eat foods with zero nutritional value our body doesn't have the energy to properly function and we suffer physically, mentally and emotionally. So, the results of this study aren't new news to me, but its always nice to have some science to back up a claim.
So what can we do? Make a resolution to know what's going into your mouth. Read ingredients. Avoid chemical additives and added sugars. Replace your morning bagel with some whole grain bread or cereal (read this great article on breakfast and blood sugar). Get rid of that morning Starbucks white chocolate mocha and make yourself some tea or organic coffee. Snack on nuts instead of chips. Eat protein with every meal to avoid a severe rise and fall in blood sugar after a meal. And, dont worry, you can still have fruit- as the sugar in fruit is all natural and coupled with fiber, making it a sweet choice for a snack.
Cheers to a healthier 2009!