I like my iced vanilla lattes as much as the next girl. They’re oh so creamy, sweet, and refreshing on a hot, summery day. And once in awhile, I like to reward myself for getting through a tough week. I’m always careful to order the smallest size with nonfat milk, and no whip to keep them calories down. But, now I’m reading that it doesn’t matter how low in calories my guilty pleasure is, it’s the sugar that’s wreaking havoc on our bodies!! Nooooo!!!
So the argument is that it’s not merely a matter of counting our calories, but also of the composition of those calories, specifically SUGAR. To learn more about the effect of sugar in children in particular, researchers from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Touro University California, recently conducted and published a study of 43 Hispanic and African American children between the ages of nine and 18 who were obese and suffered from at least one symptom of metabolic syndrome. This cluster of conditions includes elevated cholesterol, hypertension and high blood sugar that increase one’s risk of diabetes and other conditions.
Working with nutritionists, the children’s diets were modified to reduce daily intake from 28% of their original daily calories to about 10%, while holding calories constant. They replaced foods with added sugar like cereals and sugar-sweetened yogurt with high-carb foods like baked potato chips and bagels. Participants followed this new regime for nine days and were tested. These were the results:
SUGAR LEADS TO LOW METABOLIC HEALTH
- LDL cholesterol, which is associated with heart disease, dropped 10 points
- Diastolic blood pressure declined by five points
- Triglycerides, a type of fat that contributes to heart disease, dropped 33 points
- Fasting blood sugar and insulin levels fell significantly
This study’s lead author, Robert Lustig, reveals that a child’s metabolic health can be turned around in 10 days by simply eliminating added sugars from their diets.
This is HUGE news for the health and well-being of our children and led me to wonder what other effects sugar has on our kiddos. This is what I found.
THE KIDS ARE BOUNCING OFF THE WALLS!
Ever hear parents say don’t feed the kids sugar if you don’t want them bouncing off the walls? Hide the sugar or they’ll be up all night? Sometimes it seems like crazy talk, but there’s definitely seems to be truth to it.
William Tamborlane, M.D., et al, of Yale University reported in an article in the Journal of Pediatrics, that as blood glucose levels fall, there is a compensatory release of adrenaline. When the blood glucose level falls below normal, the resulting situation is called hypoglycemia, accompanied by signs and symptoms such as shakiness, sweating and altered thinking and behavior.
Tamborland and his colleagues demonstrated that this adrenaline release occurs at higher glucose levels in children than it does in adults. The authors reason that the problem is not sugar, per se, but highly refined sugars and carbohydrates, which enter the bloodstream quickly and produce more rapid fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
So to attempt to keep the kids from climbing every piece of furniture in your house, make sure to put the candy bowl away when they come over.
Research suggests that a good breakfast helps a child do better in school. A study published in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, showed that children who ate breakfast regularly had higher reading and math scores, lower levels of depression, anxiety, and hyperactivity, better school attendance, improved attention spans, and fewer behavior problems. But the menu matters!
For hyperactive children, performance on several tests including a test for attention, was significantly worse with a high-carbohydrate breakfast, as compared with the scores of children who ate a high-protein breakfast.
Keeping boxes of sugary cereal away, better yet, keeping them at the grocery store, will only benefit children. Breakfast high in protein foods like lean meats and poultry, eggs, unprocessed nuts and seeds, and low-fat milk or milk products, as well as complex carbohydrates, such as whole-grain cereals and bread and fresh fruits will be a much better choice than foods high in sugar like pastries, sugary cereals, and frozen breakfast sandwiches.
The brain depends on an even supply of glucose. Eating lots of sugar gives you sudden peaks and troughs in the amount of glucose in your blood. It is no surprise to find that sugar has been implicated in aggressive behavior, anxiety, fatigue and depression.
Large amounts of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates (white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods) are also linked with depression because these foods not only supply very little in way of nutrients, but they also use up the mood enhancing B vitamins. In a study of 3,456 middle aged civil servants, it was found that those who had a diet which contained a lot of processed foods had a 58% increased risk of depression, whereas those whose diet could be described as containing more whole foods had a 26% reduced risk of depression.
There’s plenty of information and studies proving that eliminating, or at least reducing, our children’s sugar intake will have enormous benefits on more than just their waistline. So next time you’re thinking about treating yourself or rewarding your favorite little guy to a pumpkin spiced latte or Frappuccino, reconsider your choice and opt for something kinder on your bodies. Better yet, don’t even use food and drinks as a reward; take an afternoon stroll in the park or watch the latest James Bond movie.
- O’Connor, “Well,” New York Times, 10/27/15. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/10/27/cutting-sugar-improves-childrens-health-in-just-10-days/