Sugar Blues

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Refined sugar has been called poi­son, toxic, and the “anti-nutrient”. It’s said to be more addic­tive than cocaine. Is it real­ly that bad? How much does sugar real­ly affect your brain? Let’s take a look at the some­what com­plex rela­tion­ship between sugar and your brain.

Your Brain Needs Glu­cose, Not Fruc­tose

Brain cells need twice as much ener­gy as other cells. After all, there’s a lot going on up there! Your brain cells can’t store ener­gy, so they need a steady stream of glu­cose from your blood­stream. Your brain cells can live only a few min­utes with­out ener­gy sup­ply – it’s that crit­i­cal! The health­i­est sources of glu­cose are from the com­plex car­bo­hy­drates found in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and veg­eta­bles. Glu­cose is also a build­ing block of the lac­tose found in dairy prod­ucts. Unhealthy sources of glu­cose are sugar and high fruc­tose corn syrup (HFCS) which are all are rough­ly half glu­cose and half fruc­tose.

Vir­tu­al­ly every cell in the body can metab­o­lize glu­cose for ener­gy, but only your liver cells metab­o­lize fruc­tose. While honey and maple syrup do con­tain some nutri­ents, they are still the same basic com­po­si­tion as refined sugar – half glu­cose, half fruc­tose. All Fruc­tose Is Not Cre­at­ed Equal A healthy diet con­tains lots of fruits and veg­eta­bles which are sources of dietary fruc­tose. But a diet high in these sources of nat­u­ral­ly occur­ring fruc­tose is not the same as a diet high in fruc­tose from refined sweet­en­ers. Don’t make the mis­take of think­ing you should skip eat­ing car­rots or apples because they con­tain fruc­tose. It’s the added fruc­tose from refined sweet­en­ers you should be con­cerned about. So there’s no need to pick car­rots out of your salad. :)

Dan­gers of a High Fruc­tose Diet

Fruc­tose has wrong­ly been pro­mot­ed as a healthy sweet­en­er because it doesn’t raise blood sugar lev­els or spike insulin. Instead it rais­es blood fruc­tose lev­els, which is arguably even worse. Here are some of the prob­lems with high fruc­tose diets:

Increas­es triglyc­erides, blood pres­sure, and LDL (bad cho­les­terol), all mark­ers for car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Increas­es lev­els of uric acid which can lead to gout and kid­ney dis­ease.

Increas­es risk for dia­betes. Fruc­tose intake and dia­betes rates are direct­ly pro­por­tion­al world­wide.

Caus­es sys­temic inflam­ma­tion.

Con­tributes to obe­si­ty by lead­ing to lep­tin resis­tance. Lep­tin is a “sati­ety hor­mone” that lets you reg­is­ter feel­ings of full­ness.

Read the rest here: http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/stop-giving-your-brain-the-sugar-blues/

Your Belly Fat Action Plan

by Clint Carter

Worried that you’re harboring dangerous belly fat? Your waist circumference tends to be related to the amount of visceral fat you have, a study in the American Journal of Epidemiology found. The American Heart Association recommends keeping your waist below 40 inches. To check, wrap a tailor’s measuring tape snugly around your bare abdomen, just above your hip bones. Relax, exhale, and measure. If your number comes up a little elevated, here’s what you need to do to target visceral fat. (Want the latest health and nutrition advice delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our free Daily Dose newsletter.)

QUIT THE FRUCTOSE
A diet packed with fructose can make your belly bulge. In fact, adolescents in a Georgia Health Sciences University study who consumed the most fructose had about 20 percent more visceral fat than those who ate the least. Your move: Avoid fruit juice or foods that have added sugar or high-fructose corn syrup. Don’t worry about whole fruit, though. It accounts for less than 20 percent of the fructose in the typical American’s diet, say Emory University researchers.

SWEAT THE CARDIO
Resistance training is great for adding lean body mass, but cardio is better for burning visceral fat. In a Duke University study, people who trained on treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary bikes for 8 months (at the cardio equivalent of jogging 12 miles a week) lost about 8 percent of their visceral fat. Those who performed equally intense resistance workouts saw no change in visceral fat. (For more ways to sculpt every muscle in your body while torching body fat, check out The Workout That Gets You Shredded.)

EAT WHOLE GRAINS
Foods like barley and quinoa do more than just help fill you up. In a 2010 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, people who ate three or more daily servings of whole grains had 10 percent less visceral fat than those who ate hardly any or no whole grains, even when the researchers adjusted for other lifestyle and diet factors. One benefit, they speculate, might come from prebiotic compounds that feed beneficial bacteria in your gut.

SLEEP SMART
The right amount of shut-eye is key. A study in the journal Sleep showed that people who logged 6 to 7 hours a night had the lowest levels of visceral fat. Above or below that range was associated with more visceral fat, with the worst numbers going to those who slept less than 5 hours. Over a 5-year span, these sleepers put on visceral fat about five times faster than the healthy sleepers did.

http://www.menshealth.com/weight-loss/lose-belly-fat-0