At this time of year, it’s very tempting to throw caution to the wind when it comes to what you eat.
From Christmas puds and yule logs to mince pies and candy canes, Christmas treats often come packed with sugar.
However, simple sugars are a source of calories that provide little in the way of nutrition or satiety (the feeling of fullness). As a result, it’s quite easy to consume sugar foods in excess, especially as they have an addictive quality and especially during the festive season. Simple dietary sugar can cause blood glucose highs and lows, the latter causing poor concentration, fatigue and of course sugar cravings, starting the cycle all over again.
This overconsumption of sugars can lead to weight gain while being overweight or obese elevates the risk of type 2 diabetes development. Latest research has also indicated a link between higher levels of glucose in the brain and worsening symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
While sugar is not the sole cause of diabetes, it is a large contributing factor, but thankfully it’s something we can do something about.
The World Health Organisation has recommended that daily sugar intakes should be no more than 5% of total calorie intake (approximately 25g/day for an adult). Starchy carbohydrates (wholegrain breads, whole wheat pasta, brown rice ,etc.) are generally more slowly absorbed than their counterparts, making you feel fuller for longer and steadying blood sugar levels.
Adequate fruit and vegetable intake is vital, but the emphasis should be on vegetables. Vegetables offer a high density of micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, and typically low instrinsic sugar. Fibre-rich foods, healthy fats (such as oily fish) and lean protein are all healthy additions to a diet.
Type 2 diabetes and obesity
If you’re overweight or obese, you may be at higher risk of type 2 diabetes, as the pancreas struggles to produce enough insulin for the body’s needs. Fat tissue stored around the abdomen especially contributes to diabetes risk as it is considered highly hormonally active.
This tissue has been shown to produce pro-inflammatory compounds known as cytokines, which can cause pancreatic issues including diabetes. Working towards reducing this excess weight through exercise and healthy eating choices can significantly lower your diabetes risk.
What else can you do to reduce your risk?
There are natural steps that can be taken to control blood glucose levels and to ensure that we can make the most of available sugars in our foods.
Research published in Panminerva Medica in June 2014 showed that an extract of maqui berries (known as Delphinol) can assist in the control of blood glucose, by reducing the rate at which glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream from the digestive tract. The active ingredient delphinidin was shown to inhibit the sodium glucose co-transporter (SGLT), which facilitates the uptake of glucose from food into the intestinal tissue and the blood, thus avoiding the sharp spikes in blood sugar which can result following eating.
Chromium and blood glucose
The role of the trace mineral Chromium (found in small quantities of green leafy vegetables, poultry and nuts) in blood glucose management is well established. High blood sugar can also be a sign of chromium deficiency, and it can even resemble diabetes.
Adequate chromium intakes are necessary for optimum function of insulin and therefore, blood sugar regulation. When choosing to supplement with chromium, chloride or picolinate forms are common and typically have very low bioavailability (0.5-2%), meaning poor absorption from tablet to bloodstream.
ChromoPrecise® (an organically bound chromium yeast) demonstrated up to ten times the bioavailability of chloride or picolinate forms and has been approved by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) after extensive investigation. It has also been confirmed that ChromoPrecise helps maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
Be sugar smart
Controlling blood sugar can have a massive impact on health, beyond reducing the risk of developing or furthering diabetes. Good sugar control can be useful for:
· The maintenance of healthy weight
· Stable energy and concentration levels
· Controlling sweet and sugar cravings
So while it’s tempting to sink your teeth into some sweet Yuletide treats, being sugar smart could help you enjoy yourself way beyond Christmas and into the New Year.
Photos by Tiina Arminen