TAMING YOUR SWEET TOOTH
Understanding how the fuel of life impacts the body's complex works
by Corinna Arcellana-Nuqui
Put simply, glucose is the fuel of life. The human body gets the fuel molecule glucose from food in the diet, not just carbohydrates, but fat and protein as well. A current marketing buzzword, the glycemic index (GI) refers to the potential of a food item to raise the blood glucose level. But while not everyone needs to explore the nuances of biochemical interplay in metabolism, the complexity of biochemical reactions in the human body deserves much respect.
Avoiding diet pitfalls
Reducing the amount of sugar consumed in the diet is a classic strategy of those trying to lose weight. But it should be accompanied by a warning against resorting to items that purport to be sugar-free or have sugar substitutes. Traditional replacements for sugar have included honey or other syrups, but since they still break down into glucose, they don’t present themselves as the ultimate solution.
Another strategy is resorting to diet versions that use sugar substitutes in food and drinks, but the trouble with them is that sugar alcohols like sorbitol cause diarrhea or gastrointestinal upset, as they aren’t absorbed. And while the palate is fooled into thinking one is eating something sweet, the brain chemistry is not—some food and drinks with sugar substitutes can actually trigger more hunger, which leads to more eating and a higher blood sugar level.
The elusive GI
Simply choosing a food item because it possesses a low GI may seem commonsensical. But that list includes high fructose corn syrup, an ingredient implicated in lifestyle diseases like obesity and increased insulin resistance. So carefully choose what you eat. Expert Janine Freedman, R.D., C.D.E, issued some caveats in an editorial from Diabetes Forecast: