When we're looking to manage type 2 diabetes, achieve healthy weight loss, or manage polycystic ovarian syndrome, we may have a goal of reducing added sugars in our intake. Those interested in managing potential food addiction also tend to target added sugars as being fuel to the food addiction cycle. So let's take a closer look at our reaction to lots of added sugars.
Do you feel the same after eating a bowl of steel cut oats as you do after eating a bowl of Fruity Pebbles? My guess is no. I'm also guessing it's been a while since we've had Fruity Pebbles, but who knows. Why, if both the oats and the cold cereal are both mainly carbohydrate (which will both eventually be broken down into glucose), do we feel so differently when we eat foods that are high in added sugar? A serving of the cold cereal above contains 3 teaspoons of added sugar. The oats, being free of added sugars, will do a better job of suppressing hunger.
Sure the fact that the oats are whole grain, contain fiber, are lower on the glycemic index, and also have some protein will make a difference, but today I just want to look at why the lack of added sugar in the oats makes such a big difference in appetite management. Added sugars, whether from brown sugar, white sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup and yes, even agave, are all forms of sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide, composed of glucose and fructose. A starch like oatmeal is mainly composed of chains of glucose, but does not contain the fructose that added sugars have. Fructose ends up being a major culprit when it comes to increasing hunger through its effect on leptin, ghrelin, triglyceride production, and insulin response.
Because of the way fructose is handled by the body, it does not trigger a normal insulin response. Due to this, we miss out on the effect insulin has on two important hormones that regulate appetite: leptin (which decreases appetite) and ghrelin (which increases hunger). Insulin encourages leptin production and discourages ghrelin production, which has the end result of decreasing hunger signals. Consuming fructose in high quantities from added sweeteners does not decrease hugner signals. Also, excessive fructose intakes stimulate the production of triglycerides. High blood levels of these lipids actually prevent leptin from entering the brain, so what little leptin we may have produced does not get to do its job of helping us to feel satisfied — a double whammy.
Is it practical to avoid all added sugar? Not when I want cake. However looking at ways we can reduce all sources of added sugar is probably a great goal for most people. I'm a huge fan of recipe modification, so when I do want to make that cake, I'm automatically decreasing sugar content in every recipe I make.
What ways to you cut back on added sweeteners?