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  • Writer's pictureDr. Angela Palmer

The 5 star rating and does it help us make healthy choices?

Once again the spotlight is on our 5 Star Food rating system. This time ‘the Science’ has decided that a diet soda drink is healthier than whole, no sugar added, un-reconstituted fruit juice.

Really? How does this make any sense? Diet soda has not a single nutrient in it. Often contains caffeine and contains anti-nutrients (that is, makes your body think it’s getting a food source only to find there is nothing beneficial there). It seems not long ago I was writing about how absurd that a chocolate flavoured breakfast cereal with no fat or fibre, a high sugar content and ‘added minerals’ was getting 4 stars. It seems we have now gone the other way with all sugars bad, even fruit sugars regardless of the NUTIRENTS. What about Vitamin C, fibre and the many other ingredients that are in an apple, orange or any whole fruit? Yes I’ll agree filtered concentrated apple juice is as damaging to the body as pure sugar. But the above situation has us no better informed.

We simply need to come back to basics and forget the whole star system and start again. There are a whole world of vitamins, minerals and subtle nutrients such as lycopene (often found in red foods and works with the body to clear damage caused by free radicals such as trans fats and chemicals in our foods) that don’t even get a mention in our health ratings that are vital to a healthy body. Zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin D and E, B group vitamins to mention just a few. These nutrients are used to make cells, build our immune system, strengthen our bones and make the chemical messengers that allow our cells to communicate. None of these are mentioned as the ratings system seems to focus on fat and sugar at the exclusion of all else.

We have long known the body of scientific evidence that the fast food chains have quietly known for years. That the right ratio of sugar, fat and salt in high amounts are addictive. And I mean really addictive, in much the same way as cocaine or any other addiction. As consumers we have been manipulated by advertising and gimmicks to purchase foods for ourselves and our children that create a release of dopamine in the brain that makes you feel good and want more, and more and more.

Think about the last junk food fest you indulged in, it may have been along the lines of potato chips (fat, salt and carbohydrate which converts to sugar), chocolate (also sugar, fat a dash of salt) and soft drink (sugar). Such a huge burden on the liver that not only sends you blood sugar levels on a massive high, only to be followed by a massive low during which you crave more…..sugar, fat and salt. This is not much different from excess use of alcohol when it comes to the impact on your body, and if the behaviour is repeated, especially when it begins at a young age, it sets the scene for cravings for ‘comfort food’. This becomes a tough addiction to break.

I do believe that there is a movement to help the public understand this association between sugar, obesity and Type 2 Diabetes; one of our biggest killers with over 100,000 diagnosed each year. The problem I see is that it is assumed we are not smart enough to understand anything but a simple star system. I do not agree. But we do need to be more aware of what we are eating.

Look at all of the foods you buy and check the content of fat, sugar and salt and avoid as much packaged food as possible. Cook your own biscuits, chop and serve fresh fruit as snacks. When it comes to fruit juice make sure it’s from whole fruit and only a small glass (200 ml) per day. Drink water and herbal teas and eat whole unprocessed grains. The more a food is processed, the more sugar-like it becomes, then fat and salt is added to give the food the body that has been removed. And finally vary your food, variety is the spice of life so spice it up and let the world of flavour entertain your senses and help you free yourself, for example cinnamon is great tasting on your brekkie with a little banana and assists in regulating Blood sugar levels and keeps your blood warm too, and a squeeze of lemon juice over steamed veggies reduces the need of salt. Most importantly, we need to stop using sugar to reward our children, there are so many ways and often love and play are the best rewards. Running about playing chase releases more endorphins than sugar and with our sedentary school system. Keep food simple and enjoy your body and good health.

Until next time

Stay well

Dr Angela Palmer Chinese Medicine

Dr Angela Palmer

T.C.M. B.App.Sc.


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