If I had a dime for every time someone told me they "don't eat much sugar", I'd be sitting on a pretty big pile of dimes by now. Unfortunately, the sweet stuff has become so ubiquitous, most people don't even realize they are consuming it. You may cut out cookies, but there's sugar in your salad dressing. Order sushi for dinner, but there's sugar in that rice. Forego the bun on your burger, but there's sugar in the mayo and ketchup! I recently read a startling discovery that even juice labeled 100% is doped with corn syrup. Some FDA officials suspect that many fruit juices claiming to be 100% natural juice are actually sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup...fruit juice naturally contains fructose, so if manufacturers add more, how can anyone prove it? Frightening.
One way manufacturers hide sugar is by calling it something else. Good news is you can take back the power and be a label sleuth! Learn the following terms and be on the lookout. I suggest taking a screenshot of this for reference when you're shopping.
All of the below terms are converted to glucose or glycerine when you ingest them. The list goes on and on, but these are some commonly hidden gems most people overlook:
Barley malt extract
Barley malt syrup
Brown rice syrup
Evaporated cane juice
Adequate digestion is key to maintaining optimal levels of mental wellness. There is a direct relationship between the nutrient pool in our body and our brain chemistry, specifically of 5 neurotransmitters. These specific transmitters are responsible for moods, depression, anger management, problem resolution, and energy and activity levels. If we do not make the necessary nutrients available to the body from our food, we are unable to produce the proteins/neurotransmitters we need. Low levels of one or more essential amino acids results in low levels of one or more neurotransmitters, with resulting varying degrees of depression. Therefore, adequate digestion of proteins is crucial to mental health.
So much of our mental wellness is based on what nutrients are available to our bodies. Optimizing diet/nutrients and digestion is often the biggest "missing piece" when it comes to balancing our emotional health. While amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are crucial, we also cannot forget the role of fatty acids on mental health. They are required for the proper transport of nutrients into and out of our cells, they feed anti-inflammatory pathways (decreasing free radical production), and form the sheathing around nerves.
Ensuring proper digestion is of utmost importance for mental health. In order to properly digest food, we must be in a parasympathetic state when dining. Are you digesting what you eat?
JENNIFER SWEENIE, NTP
Nutritional Therapy Practitioner & Chef