According to Balance Natural Medicine's Dr. Jason Bojar, a nutritionally oriented chiropractor, the standard American diet “has transformed from healthy complex carbohydrates, in recent years, to more of the very quickly digested simple sugars, which really go on to affect our genetic makeup, creating inflammation and disease and affecting our metabolism in a dangerous way.
“Between 60 and 90 percent of the Standard American Diet (SAD) is carbohydrate-based, and too often, instead of broccoli and cauliflower – or apples and bananas – we get those carbohydrates in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, which has no health benefits.”
Question: What's the most effective way to get kids to stop wanting sugar?
Answer: I think first of all it's a matter of really focusing on eating whole foods, because the bad sugars, the ones we become addicted to, that create weight gain and inflammation, are in processed food. I would recommend that mothers start by looking into other options for their kids beyond sugar cereals and things of that nature. Also key is moderation, which is helpful.
Q: Does sugar cause misbehavior – by which I mean things like ADD, temper tantrums and hyperactivity?
A: There is a very close interaction with the brain and sugar, and there's no question that sugar has a significant effect on the body. The body works best, and the metabolism is most efficient, in a state of homeostasis, when the blood sugar is steady, meaning it's not going up or down. The biggest issue with sugar is that it destabilizes the blood sugar, sending it way up high and then way down low, and this slope of the blood sugar, these transitions in the blood sugar, affect the brain. Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder are neurologic concerns. They deal with the nervous system, and sugar interacts with the nervous system significantly.
Q: Can you recommend any candy substitutes?
A: I really like the idea of introducing kids to tasty fruits and vegetables, primarily fruits like berries and things like that. If they need a little bit of sweetness, try berries with yogurt. Chocolate is not a bad thing, but try to go with as much cocoa in that chocolate, try to go with a little bit darker chocolate, perhaps, that will not affect the blood sugar as much. For snacks, I really like apples with peanut butter. I'm not a big fan of juices, because they have a lot of sugar, and it's best to eat sugar with fiber, creating what's called a food synergy, so the body metabolizes the sugar more slowly. Sugar is sugar, and too much sugar suppresses the immune system, so if someone has just juice, and not fiber, the blood sugar spikes. If the sugar is consumed with fiber, it doesn't enter the bloodstream so quickly. So the idea is to go with less refined foods and more with whole foods that incorporate both sugar and carbohydrates and proteins; proteins are a great thing to add to the mix, when you're consuming sugar.
Q: Does our craving for sweetness have an upside?
A: In some cases, sweet foods can actually calm the nervous system, and there are certain conditions associated with chronically low blood sugar where you would actually recommend sweet foods. Low blood sugar, or hypoglycemia, can cause depression and migraines. But there is very little upside to the sugary foods in the standard American diet. We want to take the sugar that will ultimately convert into glucose to produce energy, but we want it to metabolize slowly. It's hard to say there's an upside, nowadays, because we have become obsessive about sugar. We're addicted.
Q: Are you seeing a rise in sugar-related ailments?
A: There are many different health care providers, and we all practice differently, but one of the goals of a nutritionist is to focus the patient back to understanding how their diet affects their body and their health. If you can stabilize your blood sugar, if you can manage the insulin and blood-sugar connection, that's when you get changes, for the better.
Balance Natural Medicine's Dr. Jason Bojar is a nutritionally oriented chiropractor, with offices in Ridgway, providing services to Telluride, Montrose and Ridgway, with his partner (and wife), Dr. Jessica Balbo, a chiropractor, and Dr. Paul Glanville, MD. Visit BalanceNautralMedicine.com or call 970/626-7137 for more information.