I was recently reading….

I was recently reading a favorite minimalist blog.  You know, the kind that stresses simplifying one’s life, something I wrote about recently.  The blogger writes about her teaming up with another blogger to reduce her sugar intake, not a bad idea, considering the increasing occurrence of obesity and diabetes, even in children.

She mentions that she eats an apple a day as her primary sugar intake.  If I remember things right, your sugar intake shouldn’t exceed 36 grams daily.  An apple, at 25 grams, almost gets you there.  A medium banana nets you 14 grams.

This leads to a conundrum for me, to say the least.   After all, most medical sources recommend five daily servings of fruit, which help assure proper fiber intake and promote digestive health.  Assuming fruit is loaded with sugar, five helpings would suggest you’d be way over the max.

Out of curiosity, I checked the National Diabetes Association site and found they include fruit as a sugar source.  While they encourage you to eat fruit, you have to trade off with your carb intake.  Rather cumbersome, I’d say.  By the way, I wasn’t aware before of how carbohydrates contribute to your blood glucose.  Cutting out sugar isn’t as easy as it might appear.  Seems you almost need to be a chemist.  Just looking at the sugar content on a label doesn’t suffice.

On the other hand, there are the well-respected holistic doctors such as Neil Barnard and Joel Fuhrman, who shun limits on intake of fresh fruits, though not fruit drinks.  For them, the key is avoiding processed, or refined, foods.  This includes refined carbohydrates.  What about unrefined carbs such as brown rice?  These are the good guys, the complex carbs, which haven’t had their fiber stripped away.

Who’s right? I side with Fuhrman and Barnard.  Don’t stress about carbs or fruit, unless you’re diabetic.  Focus on fruits, plant foods, and the good carbs like oatmeal, rye, multigrain and sourdough breads, brown rice, pasta, etc.

You can also select more wisely by using a glycemic index chart, available online.  The GI indicates how quickly the food item converts to blood sugar.  White potatoes, for example, have a high GI.  Try a sweet potato instead.  Back to the complex carbs.  In general, they have lower GIs.

I’ve found medicine isn’t an exact science.  Abounding in contradiction and uninformed, even dangerous, practices, you always have to be wary.  When it comes to sugar, say no to its common sources– table sugar, cakes, pastries, sodas, etc.  But then don’t forget the carbs and fruit.  Check their GI.  Avocados, for example, have a very low GI.

We are what we eat.  Better:  We become what we eat.  Did you know that 60 percent of our diseases come from what we eat?

Anybody for an apple?

Author: RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

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