Yesterday I talked about how sugar has become such a pervasive part of our food landscape that we’re chronically overdosing on it and because sugar’s effects on our brain chemistry are so powerful, giving it up can be enormously difficult. So, if we know what sugar does to us theoretically, how do we apply this knowledge practically?
A zero-tolerance approach to sugar feels reductive. To be healthy is to find balance and your version of healthy will be specific to you, but we can say that the eating of high-GI (glycaemic index) carbs like, anything with added free sugar, sugary drinks and snacks, cakes, patisserie, bread, pasta and white potatoes, should be limited by most people, most of the time.
(Nb. If a food or beverage has a high-glycaemic index it means that it raises you blood sugar faster than a food or beverage with a lower GI. Essentially the sugar is released quicker from the food, your body’s insulin response to the sugar is more pronounced. Regularly triggering a pronounced insulin response over time can lead to metabolic disfunction that may result in diseases of metabolism like type-2 diabetes).
So, we’re limiting simple sugars but should we eat low-carb? Again, it comes down to the individual – you need to find your one-size-fits-one solution, but while low-carb can work fantastically well for people with certain health conditions for periods of time, we should focus less on the quantity of our carbs and think more about the type and quality.
Carbs are an important macronutrient, we shouldn’t do without them but when you think about carbs, think about real, whole, nourishing plant foods, loaded with vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, and that contain slow-release sources of sugar that prevent surges of blood sugar and insulin, and help keep ‘feel good’ serotonin levels stable. Think, variety, think earthy colours, think about sharper tasting fruits, think green leafy vegetables and starchy vegetables like roots. Think slow-carb not low-carb.