A FRUITFUL WAY TO AVOID SUGAR
FRUIT JUICE, SMOOTHIES, AND HOW THEY AFFECT YOUR BODY
We all know we need to eat more fruit and vegetables. You may even know why: it’s because their fiber is vital to feed your microbiome, the microcosmic living world inside your gut which has an outsized effect on your health and wellbeing.
We also know we shouldn’t be eating too much sugar, and you may not think that getting enough fiber while avoiding sugar would be too tricky.
You may be surprised.
THE DANGERS OF SUGAR
We all know that added sugar is bad for us, and should be avoided or limited whenever possible. As leading international pediatric neuro-endocrinologist and health and nutrition expert Dr.Robert Lustig states:
“Sugar is not dangerous because of its calories, or because it makes you fat. Sugar is dangerous because it’s sugar. It’s not nutrition. When consumed in excess, it’s a toxin.
And it’s addictive.”
Sugar intake used to be something we had more control over: it generally sat in a bowl on the table and you could add it to your food yourself, in my case, several spoonfuls each morning over cereal. But times have changed.
ADDED SUGAR IS ‘PURE, WHITE AND DEADLY’
For decades sugar has crept into so many packaged and processed foods, even ones you wouldn’t expect like ketchup, bread, yogurts and sports drinks. In fact, 74% of the foods we eat in the US have added sugar.
Today we’re consuming sugar at rates never seen before (we eat almost as much sugar in one week as our great-grandparents did in an entire year), and the effects on everything from obesity to diabetes are devastating. Most people now know to watch out for high fructose corn syrup, but we have to be just as wary of all the table sugar and fructose out there.
The detrimental health effects of sugar on the body are well documented and have been for decades. John Yudkin’s best-selling and influential book “Pure, White and Deadly: how sugar is killing us and what we can do to stop it” details the British physiologist’s exposé of the dangers of sugar dating back to the early 1970’s, and has been updated by childhood obesity expert Dr.Robert Lustig M.D.
You may think, therefore, that you are being smart and health-conscious by eating only natural foods, including plenty of fruits and vegetables, and you’d be right of course.
But if you think you’re tricking nature by getting your daily fruit and veg intake from smoothies and fruit juices, here’s some important news for you: you’re not.
FRUIT JUICE = FRUCTOSE JUICE = IT’S JUST SUGAR
Fruit is filled with its own form of sugar: fructose, also known as fruit sugar. As mentioned above, with all of the press it has had lately you’ve probably heard of the industrialized version, HFCS: high fructose corn syrup.
HFCS has been wreaking havoc on our health since its stealth appearance in packaged goods in recent years (it’s often responsible for that hidden sugar we talked about earlier), and while fructose in fruit is possibly not as bad for you, it’s certainly not good for you.
Consuming too much fruit, in fact, can be nearly as bad for you as swilling coke after coke, depending on how you ingest it. That’s because the reason fruit is good for you is the amount of fiber in a whole piece of it, despite the sugar.
IF FIBER IS FRUIT’S SAVING GRACE, THAT MEANS CHEWING IS GOOD
Does that mean health experts have been lying to you all these years when they tell you to eat fruits and vegetables? Not at all – fruits are great because they can provide an incredible mix of nutrients and fiber which your body, and especially your microbiome, needs.
The fructose may not be good for you, but since you usually have to chew fruit, and they’re packed with fiber alongside the fructose, it takes a while to eat and digest them. Not only that, when eaten whole fruit can be extremely filling. That all makes it harder to take in enough fructose to cause too much harm when eating whole fruit.
But that ‘whole fruit’ is key.
100% FRUIT JUICE? DON’T DRINK THE SUGAR
Obviously, you lose the benefit of whole fruit with sweetened fruit juices, many of which don’t really deserve the healthy image the name implies. Check out the ingredients on your fruit juice carton and you may be in for a shock – many are simply water mixed with a touch of fruit concentrate…and added sugar.
But you should go easy on 100% real fruit juices too. Why? They can contain as much sugar as a soda, and calories, too! Even without added sugar, fruit naturally contains fructose, as we saw above.
A large apple, for example, can contain up to 23 grams of fructose sugar, and most apple juices often don’t deliver much, or sometimes any, of the fiber which takes time for your body to process and eventually creates the signals that tell your brain you’re full. This is especially true if the fruit has been peeled before being juiced, the peel being where most of the fiber and other healthy nutrients live.
So, if you want all of the benefits of fruit in convenient, delicious liquid form, make a whole-fruit smoothie, right?
Not so fast.
SMOOTHIES MAY NOT BE THE HEALTHY HERO YOU HOPED FOR
Smoothies are a popular form of fruit consumption which has many people convinced they’re being healthy when, in fact, they may be getting dangerously high levels of sugar.
Even when smoothies are made with pure fruit, peels included, natural doesn’t necessarily equal healthy. As we saw with the apple above, fruit (and even certain vegetables) can be incredibly high in sugar, and this video lists some of the worst offenders in order of sugar content. Taking fruit in liquid form can allow you to drink more at a time, and therefore take in more sugar than if you sat down to eat that whole pile of fruit.
So how bad can it be drinking a completely natural, whole fruit smoothie?
Check out this website as an example and see how they advertise their mango smoothie: a giant green boast of ‘0g’ in the very center of the main page tells you it contains no added sugar. Sounds good, right? Why not double up and get the 40oz – still no added sugar, after all, and you’ve had a hard work out/been eating healthily all day/feel like treating yourself.
But take the time to scroll down to the nutrition information (always take the time to scroll down to the nutrition information!), and you may be in for a shock.
132 grams of sugar.
HOW MUCH SUGAR DO I NEED?
Sure, none of it was added and it’s all-natural sugar, but again: it’s still sugar. To put that into perspective, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends a maximum daily sugar intake of 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women
Importantly, notice that this maximum is very different from the ‘recommended daily allowance’ (RDA) you’re used to seeing on ingredient lists. There is no recommended amount of sugar you should be eating, and many health experts argue that the only acceptable level of sugar intake is 0. The sugar lobby has managed to confuse the idea of a recommended intake for healthy foods and an arbitrary maximum for a harmful substance you don’t actually need at all.
So, in one seemingly healthy smoothie, you could be consuming over six times the maximum amount of sugar heart experts recommend: that’s almost a week’s worth of sugar in one (big) gulp.
So, why exactly does that matter to you and your health?
FRUCTOSE AND YOUR BODY
Fructose, like regular table sugar, needs to be processed by your liver. In small amounts the liver can handle the job effectively, but when too much fructose reaches the liver all at once, it can’t metabolize the sugar fast enough to keep up.
When this happens, the liver will convert fructose into fat. You probably don’t want that, but you especially don’t want any of the other chronic illnesses associated with elevated sugar intake levels, from Type 2 diabetes to heart disease.
THE SOLUTION: A NEW, HEALTHY SMOOTHIE BLEND
Let’s try to imagine the perfect, healthy, low-calorie smoothie, given that fiber is good for you, but too much sugar is bad for you – a smoothie with all of the fiber and other nutrients from whole fruit, but without so much of the natural fructose.
BiomeBliss offers a solution.
Made from whole blueberries, we go to great lengths to remove just about all of the natural sugars from the fruit (and therefore most of the calories) before blending its antioxidant polyphenols (the stuff which makes red wine healthy – sorry, it’s not the alcohol!) with the fiber and nutrients from oats and agave for even more health benefits.
The result is a drink that contains 16 grams of prebiotics (the good stuff that keeps your microbiome fed and happy and leads to improved all-round health). It is also clinically proven to maintain a healthy blood-sugar level (from already healthy levels).
BiomeBliss: all the delicious flavor and easy consumption of your favorite smoothie, with practically none of the sugar and a whole lot of fiber.