• Sugar Free Farm nutritionist, Angelique Panagos. (Sugar Free Farm)Source: Sugar Free Farm
Sugar Free Farm is raising some interesting questions. Series nutritionist, Angelique Panagos gives us some insights into the what and how.
By
Angelique Panagos

10 Jun 2016 - 4:01 PM  UPDATED 10 Jun 2016 - 4:05 PM

Don’t we need to eat some sugar?

This is where things can get confusing. In short, our bodies are fuelled by glucose, derived from the foods we eat. That’s the natural foods we eat. Sugar itself is NOT a food group, meaning there’s no biological need for it in our diets. This is explained more extensively in ‘Finding Blood Sugar Balance.’

Sugar itself is NOT a food group, meaning there’s no biological need for it in our diets

But aren’t sugars in everything? Don’t vegetables contain sugar?

The answer to this continues from the above. There’s nothing wrong with ‘intrinsic sugars’, that is naturally occurring sugars in fruit and vegetables. The problem is ‘extrinsic sugar’, like those added to processed foods. It’s the sheer amount of the latter in our modern diets that’s such a health threat.

Added sugars, like sucrose or fructose syrups, are in too many foods that we have regularly. This leads to weight gain and may cause a large number of health issues, including heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.

Aren’t tomatoes fruits?

This question really made me smile. Yes, tomatoes are technically fruits, as are cucumbers. However, for this experiment, we were focusing on traditional fruit bowl fruits in all their forms. An apple houses 13g of sugar per 100g, whereas a tomato only has 2.8g of sugar (less than that of a red pepper). You can recognise this in the tartness of the tomato.

Aren’t all carbohydrates just evil? Should we just give up on carbs?!

No, not all carbohydrates are bad, even though they’re broken down into sugar in the body. It’s the processed carbs, like white pasta, flour and rice, that turn into glucose very quickly after a meal, causing a “sugar spike”. This isn’t good because it sends your body into “panic mode”. Conversely, wholemeal equivalents release sugar gradually, maintaining more balanced blood sugar levels.

Give your favourite carbs a GI makeover.

Why did Jennifer Ellison have such a bad reaction in Episode 1?

Cutting added sugar out of your diet isn’t easy. You can go through physical withdrawal symptoms once the supply of sugar drops, these can manifest in different symptoms from person to person . For someone whose diet is rich in added sugars, their body has to adjust as they’re having fewer sugar peaks and troughs. That’s most probably what happened to Jennifer when she felt unwell after cutting out sugar, but she eventually adapted and reset her taste buds so she doesn’t crave sugar the way she used to.

How does sugar act like a drug?

This one can surprise, but so many of us are now addicted to the intense sweetness of added sugar. This is because it triggers the reward centre of the brain, where the neurotransmitter dopamine works to make us feel comfort and pleasure from food.

Sugar makes us feel good very quickly but, unlike drugs, the sensation doesn’t taper off – it drops off, and we’re left craving more.

Shouldn’t you wean off sugar gently? Is it dangerous?

While it’s gentler on the body to gradually reduce your sugar intake, it can be hard to do stay on the wagon while fighting the cravings that are highly likely to appear. For the purpose of this experiment, we had to act fast – resetting those tastebuds while helping change the stars’ behaviours, so they could prepare for life back in the real world.

I ensured the challengers received all the nutrients they required through a carefully devised menu, and always highlight the need to maintain a well balanced diet throughout such a cleanse (following the rules listed in ‘Finding Blood Sugar Balance’).

It can be hard to do stay on the wagon while fighting the cravings that are highly likely to appear.

I also always affirm the need to seek medical advice before proceeding such a dietary change; particularly for those with medical concerns and/or known conditions who may require monitored support. As witnessed in Episode 1, the Sugar Free Farm challengers had medical assistance on standby throughout.

Prone to a food coma?

Shouldn’t you eat everything in moderation?

I’m a big believer in moderation, living by and advocating my 80/20 rule: eating an optimally nutritious diet 80 per cent of the time, while allowing for what you consider a treat in the remaining 20 per cent. Personally, I still look to and recommend favouring those treats that contain more natural, rather than added, sugars in this 20 per cent. However, life is about balance!

What is nutritional therapy?

I love this question! It’s not every day we get to see qualified nutritional therapists on prime time TV and I always welcome the chance to talk about the industry I’m so passionate about. Nutritional Therapy takes an evidence-based scientific approach to support the body back to health and vitality. It puts clients at the heart of their treatment and centres around bespoke nutritional programs. Nutritional Therapists use a wide range of tools to assess and identify potential nutritional imbalances and understand how these may contribute to an individual’s symptoms and health concerns. As a Nutritional Therapist, this approach allows me to work with individuals to address nutritional balance and help support the body towards maintaining health, i.e. I treat the person as a whole, and not of the condition itself.

Nutritional Therapists use a wide range of tools to assess and identify potential nutritional imbalances and understand how these may contribute to an individual’s symptoms and health concerns

As a word of caution, the use of the term ‘Nutritionist’ or ‘Nutritional Therapist’ is not as yet legally protected. To this end, I would always recommend ensuring a registered practitione. Where I am in the U.K this is being registered with the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and/or the Complementary& Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC).

Registered with both of the aforementioned, I completed my 3 year Nutritional Therapy training journey with the world-renowned Institute of Optimum Nutrition and am a proud Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM) AFMCP™-UK graduate.

Consult your doctor or health care practitioner for any health problems, and before embarking on any new health regimes, using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications or food programs.

 

Sugar Free Farm airs Thursdays at 7.30pm on SBS.

Read Angelique's original article here.

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