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Digestive health and sugar….why ban the “white stuff?”

Digestive health and sugar….why ban the “white stuff?”

I know this is the rant of the moment and you are probably fed up with hearing about why you need to quit (processed) sugar. But before you click onto the next page this info will help you become empowered about your health and what you eat. Stay with me for a few more minutes.

What is Processed vs. Unprocessed Sugar?

Processed sugar has basically been put through a machine in a factory. It’s white sugar, brown sugar and even High Fructose Corn Syrup. It’s often hidden in many foods including so-called healthy foods such a yoghurt, fruit juice and many snacks.

Unprocessed Sugar, means that the sugar comes naturally as mother nature intended – fruit, vegetables and a little bit of honey (honey is high in fructose, and traditionally it was difficult to obtain, so a small amount is OK, a large amount needs to be considered).

Sticking with unprocessed sugar is great as fruits and vegetables have a lot of other nutrients and our brain does need some sugar. Processed sugar, overloads the body and this can have detrimental effects on our health, including our digestive health.

It’s important to consider what processed sugar may be doing to your digestive system. Digestion is important for many processes in our body, especially mental health. An example of this is seen in common digestive complaints such as irritable bowel syndrome and feeling cranky, moody or teary.

How is digestive health linked to mental wellbeing and the brain?

Our gut is indeed our “second brain”. During fetal development, the gut and the brain are formed out of the same tissue. One part develops in the central nervous system and the other into the enteric nervous system which lines the digestive system. The two systems are connected by the vagus nerve.

This is how the gut and the brain work together and communicate. Serotonin, the feel good neurotransmitter is also found within the digestive system. In fact 95% of the body’s serotonin is found in the gut! This I why the health of your digestive system is so important for your mental wellbeing.

What can we do to improve the health of the digestive system?

A good place to start is our gut flora. We have billions of gut bacteria that live in the digestive tract. These little guys, depending on what has been enabled to flourish can either be friend or foe.
Good bacteria will help us to absorb nutrients and synthesize vitamins by creating specific enzymes, as well as improve our immune function.

The bad guys, which include an over growth of pathogenic anaerobic bacteria, fungi and yeast will produce metabolic wastes that when released into our system can have negative effects on our health. What feeds these bad guys? You guessed it, that evil white stuff called processed sugar!

Let’s focus on nourishing the good guys…
Changing the internal environment of the digestive system can have profoundly positive effects on not only your digestive function but your mood and energy too.

Consider the following changes to your diet and lifestyle that will help your beneficial gut bacteria to flourish:
• Avoid the consumption of processed sugar and processed foods
• Eat more fermented foods like sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha and fermented vegetables
• Drink filtered water
• Eat organic produce where possible
• Manage your stress levels. Cortisol production at times of stress will impact the health of the gut lining.
• Consider talking to your Naturopath about the best probiotic supplement for your digestive system

Interested in reducing sugar intake but don’t know where to start?
Try replacing your breakfast muesli and sweet snack foods with my tasty sugar free recipes. Click here to grab the yummiest sugar free recipes.

Emma Tippett is an enthusiastic and caring naturopathic practitioner. As a dedicated Melbourne Naturopath she believes that finding and maintaining your optimal health is the primary focus of your treatment.

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