The Sequel Series/ Part 4 - Grains and Sugar
I am sure you are thinking what is the link between grains and sugar? There is none really but I wanted to cover in the same post because they have two things in common for me. My LOVE/HATE relationship with them. It's long history of battling these two, they are a tough adversary.... there have been many.... "I can't quit you" yelled in frustration. But seriously these are two things I love to love but I have unequivocally decided they are not good for my body. On the quest to feel good everyday I had to cut way back on these puppies.
Pour Some Sugar On Me
Let's cover sugar first as this one is easy for most to understand. We all know sugar is not good for us. What's worse is SUGAR is in everything now. All forms of sugar from the real stuff to the genetically modified stuff. If you read labels, like I do you, will see how literally EVERY processed product has so much of it that it is alarming.
So what do do? Everything in moderation is a good, simple rule. I still indulge in it but in moderation paired with good choices. I go for the real stuff or all natural sweeteners: organic cane sugar, local honey, Stevia, Swerve (Erythritol) to name a few.
I avoid artificial sweeteners at all costs. My best advice here.... if the label says sugar free, read the back. Chances are it is sweetened with something artificial and they are all bad news. It always amazes me when your reading an ingredient label and some form of sugar or "fake sugar," like HFCS, is in the top 5 ingredients. Ketchup is a great example of this. HFCS is the 3rd ingredient often. Isn't ketchup supposed to be tomatoes? What we have done with corn (because it's cheap for the industry) is destroying our food. An easy way to analyze this is to look at ingredient labels for a product in US vs UK. The UK has banned many of these artificial sweeteners so you won't find them in product. So that means it does not need to be in the product, right? Still you find them in that same product in the US.
The good news is that there are a lot more options out there now for sweets that are naturally sweetened with things like Stevia instead of sugar. Go for these. You deserve a sweet treat from time to time. More good news? The less you eat, the less you crave them. It's surprising how naturally that happens. Your body will thank you.
Grain, Grain Go Away
This will one will irritate some of you. I remind you, my opinion here is based on my research and what works for me. I welcome feedback on this controversial subject. I will share what I have discovered about this one.
The history...... at some point in history grains emerged as being part of a healthy diet. Eating "whole" grains has been drilled into us. NEVER eat the whites. I was there folks. I was there. Then in my quest to feel better I discovered something interesting about grains. As a species, our origin, the hunter/gatherer was not eating grains. They did not exist. It wasn't until they were agriculturally developed tens of thousand of years later. Our bodies are still working out what to do with these grains. In the US, our diets are now very heavily based on grain - breads, pasta, baked goods. This produces omega-6 fatty acids in much higher ratios than our bodies need (again - I am leaving the science out of this to not bore you). So what does this mean? Too much omega-6 causes inflammation. Everywhere. My chiropractor was the one that first made me aware of this because of my lower back issue. The changes he has encouraged me to make directly affected my digestive health as well.
So what to do? I minimize how much grains I eat. I have not completely eliminated. But I have cut out like 80%. I eat grain free granola, avoid breads unless I buy fresh (my first choice is always sourdough), I eat pasta substitutes when I can. A couple of notes.... avoiding gluten is not avoiding grains and sometimes it is not just gluten protein that affects your gut health it is the lectins in the gluten. In addition - gluten free products often replace grains with corn and rice which contain gluten like lectins as well. Commercial bread makers in the US don't even use yeast anymore as a rising agent.They use transglutaminase which is a binding agent that makes you feel bloated and spikes your sugar.
My future goal - bake my own sourdough bread. But it is a project that requires a lot of time and trial and error. Working on that. In the interim. I buy bread from a local, family owned bread maker that is at my Farmers Market every weekend.
I feel so much better having cut back considerably on both grains and sugar. I finally dropped the mid life pounds I had gained. I eat less overall. More importantly my digestive health is the best it has been. My lower back issue? All but gone thanks to my Chiro getting it back in business and teaching me how to prevent flare ups. I take omega-3 supplement to help with that which also helps my digestive health. It's all connected people!