Nutrition is a fledgling science and, with the multitude of conflicting dietary advice available at our fingertips, it’s no wonder that so many people are confused about what they should be eating. One message everyone seems to agree upon, however, is the need to eat more vegetables and to improve our connection with the food process and to our own bodies. Most would also agree that the consumption of dietary sugar is much higher than the recommended intake of six teaspoons daily.
There are many reasons to reduce sugar intake. One example is from a 2012 article entitled "Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease." In this study, we learn that refined sugars mediate the overgrowth of harmful opportunistic bacteria like C. difficile and C. perfringens by increasing bile output. Diets high in vegetables, on the other hand, improve intestinal microbiota in humans due to the increased amounts of fiber, which result in increased short chain fatty acid production by microbes, effectively decreasing the intestinal pH. This prevents the growth of potentially pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli and other members of Enterobacteriaceae.
Many diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, are linked to chronic inflammation and require an anti-inflammatory diet as part of your treatment. This means you need to avoid many sources of dietary sugar, but it is hard to know which foods have added sugar. Food labels are often misleading, and unhealthy foods are regularly marketed as health foods.
In the 2013 documentary, “The Secrets of Sugar”, food labeling and marketing strategies were under fire, with doctors and top health professionals sharing the impact of sugar on public health. The producers share that “Extensive research has pinpointed sugar's culpability in a number of our most common and life-threatening ailments, including high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and even Alzheimer's disease.”
Part of the reason for conflicting dietary advice was explained when, in 2016, researchers unearthed a huge sugar industry scandal, proving that the sugar lobby sponsored false Harvard research in the 1960s, downplaying sugar’s health effects. This study linked inflammatory heart disease to consumption of saturated fat, rather than sharing the real evidence of sugar as the underlying culprit. Research over the past few decades has proven that a diet high in refined carbohydrates, which includes sugar, is linked to a higher risk of heart disease, while consumption of saturated fat has very little impact.
It’s no secret that excessive sugar isn’t good for us. From gut dysbiosis, which is an imbalance in your GI microbiota, to inflammatory heart disease, there is countless evidence to support the need to cut back on dietary sugars. The hard part is knowing what to do when your sweet tooth just won’t budge.
To help you out, here is a list of 56 names for sugar that you may find on a food label, and the following list of foods that may help when you’re ready to dive head-first into the chocolate fondue and save you from the resulting sugar-blues.
Sweet Vegetables: carrots, corn, onions, beets, winter squash (butternut, acorn, delicata, etc.), sweet potatoes, and yams
Semi Sweet Vegetables: turnips, parsnips, and rutabagas
Other Vegetables: red radishes, daikon, green cabbage, and burdock
Lower glycemic fruits: apples, berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.), apricots, peaches, plums, pears, and kiwi
Higher glycemic fruits: (to enjoy in moderation) tropical fruits such as pineapple, papaya, banana, and mango