Jamie, a teenage friend of mine, wants to be a great sportsman. He’s getting more and more interested in how food and drink may help or hinder his chances.
He is very clear smoking would be bad..’smoking would damage my lungs. I would not be able to run so fast’. He’s heard bad things about alcohol and sweet foods too.
Sugar is indeed a sweet success. It covers up its harm with its gorgeous taste. We have all learned to love the food it can create.
But looking at his 40 something Dad Jamie no longer sees the sportsman he once admired but a chubby, tired, grumpy man who turns to cakes, sweets, biscuits, puddings, ice cream a lot. ‘Better than alcohol’ Dad keeps saying.
Jamie wants to know more about sugar harm not just to make him a better sportsman but to help his Dad too. So this is what I said…..
Sugar can make you feel good
Sugar triggers the production of ‘dopamine’ in the ‘ thinking brain’ – the one in your head. [I call it the thinking brain because your stomach has neurons which pass messages too. I’ll come back to that later]
Dopamine makes us feel good. Sugar and refined carbohydrates like pizza and pasta hijack the dopamine reward centre in the thinking brain. Over time the signal we receive says give me ‘ more more more’ sugar and processed carbs.
Sugar can make you grumpy
The chemical ups and downs sugar causes in his body can make him grumpy, slow and lazy. Sugar slowly, silently makes anyone who relies on it feel mentally and physically less sharp.
Sugar can keep you hooked
If your Dad eats fried eggs or a cheese omelette, or nuts, (proteins and fats) his brain sends out ‘leptins’ whose job it is to say ‘ you’ve eaten enough’. Leptin puts out a big STOP sign.
Sugar blocks the leptin message getting through. Without leptin leaping in to say ‘NO MORE’ we are left thinking we just might keep on eating. Snack companies love the leptin switch going off.
Sugar inside your body
Excess sugar hits your liver. The liver has an important job. It releases bile which helps a body carry off its waste products. All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver.
Unused sugars store in body cells including the liver. Your liver cannot tell the difference between the sugar in a Coke and the sugar in a glass of fruit juice or a slice of toast. It can add up to a fatty liver. Fat stops the liver working properly.
Thin or fat makes no difference
Whether you are thin or overweight on the outside, your liver can be fat on the inside. As the years pass you can get sick. Tell your Dad not to judge his health by his weight. ‘ I can eat it as I never put on weight, is a myth that misguides’ . He may look great but inside may tell a different story.
Pasta, pastry, pies, pizza, bread all contain ‘ glucose molecules’ . These are just ‘sugar holding hands’ as Dr Jen Unwin- a nutrition doctor- puts it.
Your Dad’s body receives his pepperoni pizza or macaroni cheese as sugar, just the same as the stuff he uses to make cakes. So unless he burns it off with activity pretty quickly his liver gets overloaded.
That brings me to what he needs to do to change…. In my next blog.
Top Tips for now
- Understand sugar as an addiction like alcohol or smoking
- Know change will take time
- Avoid Type 2 diabetes and other serious health conditions by starting action now
Read my next blog to hear more of what I told Jamie his Dad needed to change.