Friday, January 17, 2014

The tide may be changing.... in the UK

This past week I came across two very different articles from England that suggest that some people over there are beginning to speak out about the role fruit sugars play in diabetes and obesity. 

The first is an article from The Guardian quoting a government adviser and obesity expert who believes fruit juices should be excluded from the "five a day" recommendation.  According to her, 

"Fruit juice isn't the same as intact fruit and it has got as much sugar as many classical sugar drinks. It is also absorbed very fast so by the time it gets to your stomach your body doesn't know whether it's Coca-Cola or orange juice, frankly."

Maybe nothing groundbreaking, but it's a start.

The second article is more of an eye-opener and comes to us via the CBC. Apparently a zoo in Devon decided to ban their monkeys from eating bananas. It's not news that much of the fruit that we eat has been selectively bred to make it sweeter and more appealing, and bananas are no different. The bananas in our stores are not the kind that animals in the wild would be likely to ever find. So much so, that staff said:
Bananas, and other fruits, are bad for the monkeys' health and can rot their teeth, according to staff at Paignton Zoo in Devon.
"They simply are much more sugary than the sort of fruits that monkeys would have access to in the wild," said Amy Plowman, the zoo's head of conservation and advocacy.
The monkey's high sugar diet led to problems similar to those seen in humans, namely tooth decay, diabetes, and issues related to obesity, such as heart problems.
"What we found is that the monkeys are maintaining a much healthier weight, which is really good. In zoos, animals tend to perhaps put on a little more weight than they should because they've got very easy access to lots of food and they don't as much exercise as in the wild," she said.
A low-sugar diet also slightly improves the animals' behaviour, especially among smaller monkeys, who tend in live in packs and tend to squabble a bit, she added.
You would think that if this holds true for monkeys in the zoo, the same would apply to humans.  While the low carb community links high carb fruits with blood sugar control, it's still rare to find mainstream health experts prepared to speak out against nature's candy.  After all the work done to teach people to eat more produce, the last thing they want is for them to go back to a diet devoid of fresh unprocessed stuff.   And yet, in doing so, many if not most, health-conscious people are totally convinced that eating plenty of fruit can never be a bad thing.

The increasingly popular vegan raw food movement certainly doesn't seem to have a problem with eating many fruits every day - I may be mistaken but I get the impression that there's little said about how many smoothies are too many.

At least the monkeys are being provided with realistic restrictions!