Friday, April 8, 2011

Killing ourselves with sweetness?

Ingredients: MILLED CORN, SUGAR, PEANUTS, HONEY, MALT FLAVORING, MOLASSES, SALT, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, IRON, NIACINAMIDE, ASCORBIC ACID (VITAMIN C), SODIUM ASCORBATE (VITAMIN C), PYRIDOXINE HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B6), THIAMIN HYDROCHLORIDE (VITAMIN B1), RIBOFLAVIN (VITAMIN B2), VITAMIN A PALMITATE, VITAMIN B12, FOLIC ACID, BHT (PRESERVATIVE), VITAMIN D, WHEAT STARCH.











Take a look at this list of some of the common foods North Americans might eat every day, that commonly contain added sugar:

  • coffee or tea with added sugar
  • muffins
  • cold cereal
  • cooked cereal like oatmeal, with syrup
  • pancakes or french toast with syrup
  • toast with jam or honey
  • ketchup 
  • sweet pickles
  • granola bars, crackers or cookies
  • juice and pop
  • ice cream, cake or other dessert
  • flavoured yogurt
  • flavoured milk
  • hamburger & hotdog buns, commercial bread
  • candies
  • apple pie

It's not an exhaustive list, and it's unlikely that you eat each of these items every day, but it's easy to understand how most people do consume a significant amount of sugar, mainly without realizing it.  Kids,  teenagers and those on a limited budget are the ones who are especially likely to regularly eat from this list.

There are many people who "eat healthily" along the lines recommended by the nutritional powers that be.

Maybe they have decided to eat organic food only, or they might have celiac disease.  Or maybe they are simply following the nutritional guidelines.  Even so, it's still really easy to ingest a fair amount of sugar on a daily basis.  Perhaps not on the same scale, but my point is that when you eat muffins baked with agave, brown rice syrup or even evaporated cane juice instead of high fructose corn syrup or refined sugar, it's still a sugar.

There is a lot of online discussion currently about the Paleo Diet, which aims to replicate the kind of foods eaten before the days of agriculture.  The thinking is that Man lived for hundreds of thousands of years on a simple hunter-gatherer diet.  Our bodies have not yet evolved sufficiently to adapt to our modern grain-based diet, according to this way of thinking.

However you might think about paleolithic eating, it's clear that the addition of large quantities of sugar takes us into a realm our bodies have not seen for longer than a couple of hundred years, at most.  Human beings used to eat mainly savoury foods, supplementing them with seasonal fruits when they were available.

Since evolution takes place over thousands of years, could it be that we are killing ourselves with sweetness?

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