Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sugar & The Body

Here is a picture showing the relationship between insulin and glucagon. Both are hormones that are responsible for regulating our blood sugar. Insulin is secreted in higher amounts based on high blood sugar levels, and glucagon is secreted in high amounts in response to low blood sugar. Check out this website for more details on how the pancreas and liver play a role in keeping our blood sugar within a normal range.

When I think about the intricacy of my body and its many functions I feel the need to treat it properly. But how often am I thinking about my pancreas? Almost never.

It's easy to ignore my body and react to food situations on autopilot. This morning I had to have French toast. When I wandered sleepily into the pantry and noticed a brand new loaf of sprouted wheat bread, French toast was the first thing that came to mind. I eat French toast very seldom, so when I do, it's a special treat. I put my uber-expensive jar of pure maple syrup in a glass of hot water to heat it up. To the eggy, milky mix I always add black pepper and cinnamon. It's an old habit. This morning I devoured three perfectly crisp (I don't do soggy French toast!) pieces smothered in Earth Balance and syrup.

Okay, so it's eight hours later and I'm actually thinking about my pancreas. Why? Probably because shortly after my delicious breakfast I went back to bed and slept another two hours. Blood sugar crash? It's possible, but perhaps I was still just tired from waking up. I did a little research and found that maple sugar is generally considered to have a low GI.

According to GI News, maple syrup has a glycemic index of 54. According to the Maple Syrup Federation, the GI can vary quite a bit, but averages lower than agave and corn syrup.

According to the Official Glycemic Index Database, high GI is considered 70+, medium 56-69 and low GI is 55 and under. This site also lists pure Canadian maple syrup to have a GI of 54.

To add my own two bits about maple syrup in general, I love the pure stuff because it is sweet and subtle, but it baffles me how the pure syrup tastes less maple-y than artificially-flavored syrups that I used to eat when I was a kid. May Mrs. Butterworth's rest in peace!


Losing Waist! said...

I have a serious issue with maple syrup (and every other sugar on earth) and it used to be a serious problem for me. It does the thing in my mouth that a satisfying dip into sugary goodness does. It might have to do with it being my only available sugar in the house while growing up... anyway- if I start I cannot stop with using it, so I just don't start. We actually have it in the house, but I leave it.

I have been watching the scale lately with my sugar intake and how it increases my weight even if I don't increase my calories. I usually try to be sensitive to my sodium intake, but it has been evident that with fluctuating levels of sugar really beat up my weight loss progress. I know it has to do with insulin levels... but the information is just not out there that an increase in refined sugar without a calorie increase can change your weight. Almost like it is being kind of downplayed, or even kept out of mainstream information.

Interesting stuff!

Anonymous said...

Love the blog!

"Chris is Starving!"

Natalie said...

Love the maple syrup shout out. As a Vermonter, you grew up rarely seeing the "fake" stuff. It's almost a sin there. Chain restaurants sometimes serve the fake stuff. But, you'll hardly find it anywhere else aside from the grocery store. Even hole in the wall restaurants, walls and booths still reeking of smoke from the "olden" days when smoking was allowed, have the real stuff.

I use maple syrup every day in homemade oatmeal (usually with walnuts and dried fruit added). My girls beg to have it drizzled over their plain, organic yogurt and I've used it in place of corn syrup in recipes. GREAT STUFF! Great post!

My Year Without said...

Losing Waist-You pose an interesting correlation. It seems like with the more research being done on insulin, sugar (in general) and weight gain, the data might someday reveal. It seems like everyday there is more and more information...


Natalie-Wow, I have not thought of adding it to yogurt-I usually add honey-and to oatmeal. That sounds so good.