In order to understand refined sugars and grains, we have to first take a step back and talk about carbohydrates. The simple way to think of carbohydrates is any part of the food you eat that the body turns quickly to blood sugar. As the body breaks down carbohydrates, sugar is released into the bloodstream. Carbohydrates, and the sugar that is released into our bodies, play a role in providing energy for us to function. In truth, many people require very little carbohydrate to power their bodies. However, today’s diet provides too much carbohydrate, primarily in the form of refined sugars and grains, and has shown to be detrimental to our health and well being.
Today, many of our diets consist of items high in refined sugars like table sugar, brown sugar, glucose, fructose and high fructose corn syrup. Glucose and fructose are sugars naturally found in foods like honey, fruits and fruit juices, but they can also be found in sauces, jellies and almost any item that is man made. Many of today’s packaged items include added sugars in one or more of these forms. We also tend to eat a lot of grains as is evidenced by our love of fast food and processed, packaged items. Examples of refined grains include breads, crackers, cereals and noodles.
What are the consequences? As this article from Harvard University’s School of Public Health points out, over-consumption of refined sugars and grains has led us to chronic illnesses such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. There are also preliminary findings that could link our nation’s addiction to sugar to infertility and colorectal cancer.
The recommendation from health professionals is to eat foods that most closely resemble their natural state; foods like nuts and seeds, fish and beans. Other healthy options include vegetables and some dairy items, as they tend to be lower in sugar. Fruits and whole grain food options like oatmeal or brown rice should be eaten sparingly to help the body maintain its sugar levels and avoid the highs and lows we feel when we eat too much sugar. By removing all those sugar-filled, flour-filled and processed foods and drinks, your body will begin to regulate itself. You will feel the effects in overall better energy, sleep, mood and hunger control.