This month Thomson & Bancks’ Head of Medical Negligence, Lucy Sherry continues her “You Matter to Us” Health blog by looking at the benefits of going “sugar-free” this Lent.
The end of February can leave people feeling low, especially if you have not been able to keep up your resolutions, the weather is cold and wet, the nights are long and you have staggered through ‘dry-January’ only to face the next challenge: ‘sugar-free Lent’!
Of course, the most popular promise people make each New Year worldwide is to get into better shape. A change in diet is often the first step, along with doing more exercise. 95% of the population want to sleep better, have more energy or lose weight. 160,000 people a year die of cardiovascular-related problems in the UK so improving our diets is a good goal to keep.
The sugar-free diet has gained popularity lately, with many celebrities endorsing it. However, for the rest of us, ‘sugar-free Lent’ has become an annual reminder to cut down on food and drinks containing manmade or refined sugar.
It is true that most of us eat too much added refined sugar. At most, adults should eat no more than 30g of sugars a day, which is equal to seven teaspoons; a Cola has nine and some cereals have four teaspoons of sugar in them!
Consuming more than this on a regular basis means you are eating more calories than you need, which can lead to weight gain. Serious health conditions such as heart disease and Type 2 Diabetes can also be a result of eating too much sugar.
While there are health benefits from reducing the amount of sugar in your diet, binge dieting is not the answer as it can provoke side effects in your health. Instead, slowly reducing the sugar in your diet over time is the answer, making it easier for your body to get used to the change. This will also lower the risk of sugar-cravings and snacking, which always lets dieters down.
The reason people in the western world get fat is because we eat too much and our food contains too many ‘bad carbohydrates’ which digest rapidly and cause our blood sugar levels to spike. For this reason, they are defined as having a ‘High Glycaemic Index’, such as:
When our blood glucose (i.e. blood sugar) levels rise, our body responds by producing insulin. Insulin is the hormone our body uses to metabolise glucose and it signals our fat cells to start storing food calories as fat, rather than burning them in the muscles as energy.
So remember this simple truth,
Bad carbs = high blood sugar = high insulin = store more fat
Sadly, some of us are genetically more prone to fat accumulation from these foods than others, so the lucky few can eat the same foods and stay relatively lean. The good news for all of us is that if we reduce our intake of this small group of foods we can eat as much as we want – so no calorie counting or starving ourselves with the right foods!
Lucy Sherry, Solicitor-Advocate; Head of Medical Negligence specialises in medical negligence litigation, previously representing the NHS Litigation Authority and one of the GP Unions. Lucy now works with injured individuals and bereaved families to achieve compensation for adverse outcomes. Lucy has a passion for learning and sharing her knowledge, regularly delivering medico-legal training to lawyers, attending many hours of medical lectures each year to keep abreast of changes in treatments, and gaining an insight into new health and medical findings to share with Thomson & Bancks’ clients and visitors to this blog.
Blog: Antibiotics in Animal Feed & the Rise of the Superbug; 1 Reason Why I was Vegetarian!
Blog: Alcohol; a harmless social escape or a dangerous poison?
Blog: Our annual Christmas binge & January famine!
Blog: Battling Stress at Work
Blog: The Taboos About Men’s Mental Health
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