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Friday, March 31, 2023

Nutrition Knowledge – A sweet spot for the gut


We all hear that too much sugar is not healthy, but why exactly? Let’s start by understanding the difference between naturally occurring sugar and refined/processed sugar. Naturally occurring sugar is digested and accepted differently in our gut than refined sugar. Refined sugar is highly processed and diminishes the good bacteria in our gut, giving rise to bad intestinal flora. Fructose is the naturally occurring form of sugar found in fruit, but because whole fruit contains nutrients and fiber, the fructose digests differently. We can eat fruit as a snack alone, but it is better to eat it with some protein and/or fat, maybe nuts or a piece of cheese. Often the foods that contain refined sugars are low in fiber and have very little nutrient value, which also poorly affects our gut.

Dairy products have some naturally occurring sugar but also nutrients; consume these with a balanced meal. Honey, maple syrup and agave are all naturally occurring “sweeteners” but they have nutritional benefits, and honey has some great anti-bacterial properties. Again, using these to complement a meal, bake with or sweeten our tea or coffee a bit should not alter our gut balance.

Studies done on the Standard American Diet show that it causes inflammation. This is because the SAD is low in fiber, low in fresh, whole foods, and high in poor quality fats and refined sugar. But recent analysis has shown that refined sugar may be the worst culprit as far as affecting the immune cells in our gut.

It is unrealistic to think that we won’t eat anything sweet. Our best bet is to try to avoid refined sugars, and when we do eat anything sweet, do so with (or right after) a balanced meal that contains lots of veggies, quality fats and good pasture-raised meats. This will keep our gut from having to digest a load of sugar on its own, and keep that all-important good balance.

Patty Minta, RD, LDN
Patty Minta, RD, LDNhttps://nourishednestedandblessed.com/
Patty Minta is a Registered & Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist. Visit her website for links, nutrition info and tips at www.nourishednestedandblessed.com.