Important distinctions you need to know
People who are struggling with Type II diabetes and weight gain are often encouraged by mainstream doctors and nutritionists to limit carbohydrate intake—mainly, sugar. But there’s a major FLAW in their approach…
Instead of encouraging natural, whole foods, these practitioners push artificial sweeteners and “sugar-free” candy, cakes, and cookies.
Even though studies consistently show that these “Frankenfoods” can actually lead to obesity, diabetes, and other serious disease.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating that you eat the full-sugar versions of processed baked goods. Refined sugar (along with processed foods) is the single largest contributor to an unhealthy diet and onset of chronic diseases.
I’m simply explaining that not all sugars are created equal. In fact, the sugar that naturally occurs in some food—and one food group, in particular—can actually help PROTECT AGAINST chronic disease…not cause it. That’s what these mainstream “experts” should be explaining… and encouraging.
But since that’s not the usual case, I’ll outline for you what you can—and SHOULD—be eating. As well as how the food works in your body. I’ll also share why I recommend you eat at least two servings of this naturally sweet (and delicious!) whole food every single day…
Fruits are essential to good health
Fruits are loaded with nutrients that the body can’t naturally make by itself (and therefore, needs to get from food). So if you completely avoid—or severely restrict—fruit, your body will suffer.
In fact, when consumed on a daily basis, fruits supply fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidant plant compounds called phytonutrients, and yes—some carbohydrates.
These components are vital to good health, including carbohydrates.
Here’s why, despite their bad reputation, a balanced diet NEEDS to contain some carbs…
The case for carbs
Carbs, along with fats and proteins, are considered macronutrients. Unlike micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals, macronutrients are major nutrients that the body needs in larger (“macro”) amounts every day.
That’s why eliminating any kind of macronutrient (like carbs) often leads to nutrient deficiencies…and ultimately, chronic diseases.
Of course, carbohydrates are essentially built from chains of glucose (the blood sugar that comes from sugars found in foods).
These sugars can be natural, like fructose (from fruit) and lactose (from milk). Or the sugar can be processed and refined, like sucrose (found in popular “fat-free” and artificial foods).
Then, glucose is used to make energy in the body’s cells. This energy helps facilitate metabolic reactions throughout the body and brain.
In fact, glucose is so important for every cell in your body that if you don’t get any sugar from carbs, your liver starts changing some proteins into glucose. (When this happens, your body will lose important tissues.)
In extreme cases, your body may start to break down muscle mass to convert protein into glucose for the cells. (Retaining muscle mass is hard enough for aging adults and directly contributes to longevity.)
In nature, carbohydrates are found in fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and whole grains. Fruits are importanrt because humans have evolved with a desire to eat sweet-tasting foods to obtain the nutrients needed to survive.
But there’s a world of difference between the natural sugars fruits contain and the refined sugars found in processed foods.
The sweet (and not so sweet) differences
Fruit sugars can be part glucose as well as fructose. As I mentioned earlier, both of these natural sugars provide carbohydrates, just like refined sugar (sucrose).
But refined sugar is a highly concentrated form of carbohydrates.
While it can come from some plants (like sugar cane), its plant nutrients are removed during manufacturing processes. And that makes a HUGE difference in how the sugar is metabolized in the body!
When you eat whole fruit, on the other hand, the fructose is taken in as part of the natural biomatrix. So you get the fructose, but you also get plenty of fiber.
The fiber slows the absorption of fructose from the intestines, primarily because it makes the contents thicker. This allows the sugar to “trickle” into the bloodstream.
But sucrose and other refined sugars don’t have that “trickle down” effect. They hit the bloodstream immediately, causing sugar spikes that can lead to obesity, Type II diabetes, and other chronic diseases.
This excess sugar in the bloodstream can also combine with proteins and fats in other foods. This creates toxic substances that are associated with a wide range of chronic health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.
The real causes of diabetes
Of course, we typically associate Type II diabetes with excess sugar consumption. But many people, including many health professionals, don’t fully appreciate the real causes of diabetes.
In fact, some science suggests that Type II diabetes occurs when there’s a loss of function in the pancreas’ beta cells—which are responsible for producing insulin. This insulin helps move sugar away from your blood and into your cells, where it’s needed.
(And now, a new finding—described in my next article below—demonstrates how FAT helps the beta cells in the pancreas do their work.)
Plus, the nutrients found in fruits help protect these pancreatic cells. In fact, research has found that people who eat the MOST fruit actually have the LOWEST risk of Type II diabetes.
How to get your daily fruit intake
To sum everything up, if you bypass fruits because of misinformed dietary advice, it becomes more difficult to get all of the nutrients (and the right carbs!) you need each day.
That’s why the most sensible—and effective—approach for good health is to follow a healthy, balanced diet.
And, as I’ve written before, the newest research shows a balanced diet should strive to include two servings (or about two cups) of fruit a day. Which is easily attainable.
I like to include fresh berries in my full-fat, plain yogurt. Toss sliced apples or pears in salads. Braise or poach stone fruits (like apricots, cherries, and peaches) with beef, pork, or lamb. And simply enjoy any kind of fruit as a naturally sweet and delicious dessert.
In fact, when you cut out refined sugar from your daily diet, your taste buds adapt—and before long, you’re able to appreciate the natural, healthy sweetness of fruits.
SIDEBAR: The rise of processed sugar—and how to spot it
Despite its omnipresence today, processed sugar is a relatively recent part of the human diet.
Sugar cane is thought to have originated in New Guinea. But by 1000 B.C., it was also being cultivated in parts of Asia. The cane was initially chewed, until farmers in India discovered they could crush them, extract the juices, boil them, and create refined, crystalized sugar.
Arab traders later exported sugar and sugar cane to northern Africa. There are even records of the ancient Greeks and Romans using some sugar cane—but as a medicine rather than a food.
During the Middle Ages, European explorers brought sugar from Asia and Africa home with them. It was considered so valuable that it was locked up and traded like a commodity.
Then, when European countries established colonies in the Americas in the 1500s, sugar cane become a popular and profitable crop—and a staple of the human diet.
Fast forward to the early 1970s, and “high fructose corn syrup” was also introduced to our diet.
(This a bit of a misnomer since corn syrup normally does not contain fructose. Instead, processed fructose is artificially added to the corn syrup so it can be called “high” in fructose, relatively speaking, compared to no fructose at all.)
But make no mistake—supposedly “high fructose” corn syrup is still artificial, refined sugar.
And satisfying a desire for a sweet taste by eating foods that contain ANY type of refined sugar is a recipe for dietary disaster.