Saturday, March 7, 2009

Research, Research, Research....

The past few weeks have been extremely busy. Between family, school and self it seems there hasn't been much time for anything else. I finished two very time consuming research papers, one on milk and the other on sugar. I have been asked a few times to share more details about what I am learning. I will touch on it now along with some of my own thoughts and feelings.

Before I get into the actual topics, I have to say how much I am loving working on my degree. The school (Hawthorn) is so open and I can have the ability to flex my mind. I guess that is what I like so much about learning nutrition in general. There is no cut and dry answers when it comes to nutrition.

My research topics, Milk and Sugar, are two topics(among many in the field) that can cause great controversy. These were the focus of both of my research papers, sharing two sides of the same coin. In my papers, I did not have to express my own opinion for much for the principal behind my nutrition education is Biochemical Individuality, each person is different and all people do not react to foods the same. In all reality, I knew much of what I reported about in both papers. Sugar, corn syrup, artificial sweeteners was the topic of paper number one. It is a passionate subject, and the details, stories, and research available is astounding. Getting the facts on paper with proper citation was an amazing way to validate what I knew was/is my own strong natured opinions. The fact that Americans are consuming more and more sweeteners everyday. I was astounded the read that Americans are actually taking in less sugar yearly than before, but before you get too excited the rise of use of high fructose corn syrup, has increased substantially! It is in MOST processed foods on the market. How does this effect us?

The over consumption of sugar, and it's counterparts leads to health problems such as, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Sugar comes in many forms, all broken down in the body to produce the energy necessary for the body to function. Don't go running off for cake and cookies yet! There are sugars that react in your body differently simple sugars such as table sugar, and refined flour are quickly absorbed and provide little nutrition. What happens next? Well these sugars quickly get absorbed into the body and then raise the blood sugar, shortly after glucose levels will drop again. Most people will grab for something sweet like candy or juice to bring sugars back up. This only creates a dangerous cycle! Sticking to whole fruits, fresh fruits and vegetables, beans and legume, and whole grain breads and pastas. For those that may not have trouble with glucose levels other things can happen. Cravings for sweets and carbs- this tends to happen because these sugary foods will satisfy hunger; however, does not give your body the nutritional content it needs to function right down to the cellular level, thus we start to have cravings! We then reach for one more chip, cookies, scoop of ice cream or even another piece of bread from the bread bowl when really we should be reaching for whole foods that provide the nutrients we need in their most natural form. This behavior is definitely dangerous thus look at the medical issues we have in our society.

My other project focused on milk, and the issues that it brings forth. I started with breastfeeding. The benefits of it and the controversy surrounding such a natural thing. If you have ever breastfed in a public place you probably know what I mean. As humans some try to set themselves above the rest of mammals however in rearing our young is not much different from what other mammals do, only to most it's 'cute' when cows, and goats do it, you get my drift. After breastfeeding, I went into more debates about milk, pasteurization, homogenization and raw milk. Again, I wont go into great details in this post about that either. I will say that even more evidence has shown me why food and farmers should be as separate as church and state. Sadly this is not the case!

Overall, my findings have drawn me to feel with complete conviction the idea of Biochemical individuality. Each person (or living being really) is different. We may all have to same organs, and basic chemical make-up. We are in fact different in as many ways as we are similar. What is good for one person may certainly may not be good for another! An example is one with lactose intolerance. Lactose intolerance is not an allergy but an inability to properly digest milk sugar due to a lack of the enzyme necessary to do it, called lactase.

Overall I learned a lot of scientific details of milk and sugars, there are as many types as there are people to consume them. Unfortunately not always for the best. Still take yourself into consideration when choosing foods. Eat at least 80% of your foods for nutritional content and the rest for fun and the taste. Be aware of what your body is telling you after you eat meals and snacks, if you listen you may find some hidden energy you didn't know you had. Food is fuel, which gives life.

****Please note that you should consult a medical professional before making drastic changes to your dietary habits.

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