Monday, April 6, 2015

Body and spirit--treat them both right! New guidelines from WHO

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Just in time for the Easter season (and Easter candy sales), Global Moms Challenge posted this article on the WHO's new guidelines for daily sugar intake! I loved it. It's not exactly energy work related, but it kind of is, because how we treat our bodies affects our emotions and our energy. A good diet will keep us energetically strong; a poor diet will not. Since energy work (and the Gospel of Jesus Christ!) views the body and spirit as intimately connected, it makes a lot of sense that how we treat our bodies would affect our spirits, just as how we treat our spirits affects our bodies (see Alma 15, where I was studying last night, and how Zeezrom's need to repent caused him to develop an extreme illness).

The WHO's new guidelines on sugar are meant to protect the physical body, but the fact is that the physical body impacts the spiritual one. Monitoring your sugar intake will bless your body and your spirit.

Here is a list of 141 ways sugar can ruin your health, complete with citations from the medical literature.

My personal formula for daily added sugar intake

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My research has led me to use the following formula for sugar intake: take your body weight in pounds, and divide it by ten, and that is the recommended limit for daily sugar intake in teaspoons. One teaspoon of sugar is about four grams.

So for my 35-lb 3yo, he should be getting no more than 3.5 tsp added sugar/day, or about 14g. For comparison, a typical packet of fruit snacks, just one, has 10g of sugar. So that is like a pack and a half of fruit snacks a day. For my 23-lb 1yo, we're looking at 2.3 tsp sugar/day, or about 11g. That would equate to about 1/6 cup of mini marshmallows for the entire day (about 11 mini marshmallows). OR about a third to a half cup of apple juice for the whole day.

This article from my Global Moms Challenge cites the new WHO Guidelines on sugar intake, which call for sugar to account for no more than 10% of daily caloric intake. The WHO's numbers are between 6-12 tsp for an adult for a day, or between 24-60 g/day.

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So per their calculations, a 140-lb moderately active female (whose daily caloric intake for weight maintenance would be around 2200 kcal) should have no more than 220 kcal of sugar/day. Sugar has about 4 calories per gram, so dividing it out, that's about 55g sugar/day.

Using my calculations, you would divide the 140 poundage by ten and get 14, then multiply by four to get how many grams of sugar per day for this person, and you'd get 56 g/day. So I think my system is pretty accurate. I came up with it after comparing a variety of different standards from NGOs and

Sugar effects

That's the system I use for my family. I can always tell if my kids get too much sugar, even on days when I don't rigorously track it. Their behavior always shows it!! I also suspect a sensitivity to Red 40, based on their behavior after they eat it, and possibly Yellow 5, both dyes known to trigger hyperactivity in sensitive children. Since I do monitor their sugar intake pretty religiously, they don't end up eating much food dye either since sugar and food dye tend to go hand in hand--but this is something I suspect. I might have to come up with some kind of experiment just to be sure.

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All I know is, one tie-dye fruit roll up in the morning, and those guys are out of control. Where they are normally gentle and obedient, they get cranky and deliberately disobey--they will smile and go out of their way to be defiant after a tie-dye fruit roll up. This has happened every time I have let them have one. And I think that those fruit roll ups are the #1 thing they ever get with that much Red 40 and Yellow 5.

I have also noticed a similar thing with excess juice, which they always get from their well-meaning grandparents, who just pump them full of "all natural" juices that are basically straight sugar. After about 30g sugar, they just get mean and deliberately disobedient. In normal life, when they disobey, it's more like they are distracted. When they get more than their daily recommended dose of sugar, they do it deliberately.

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To me, having been tracking sugar's effects on my children daily for about a year and a half, it is clear that when I allow them to have more sugar than their tiny bodies can handle, I am encouraging them to break the commandment to honor their father and mother. When I knowingly give them substances that I know encourage disobedience and bad behavior, I feel guilty of encouraging them to break the commandments. As their mother, I feel like it is very important for me to give them their best chance at keeping the commandments every day, even though they are just 3 and 1. Just because they can't be held accountable for sin yet doesn't mean they aren't setting patterns of obedience or disobedience that will affect them for their entire lives.

Everyone is different!

That said, every kid is different and every kid's sugar tolerance is different--and not all kids will react the same way with sugar. Maybe your kids get more obedient when they eat excess sugar! That would be extremely unlikely based on my research, but everyone is different, so who even knows. But you won't know unless you track it. 

Tracking and limiting sugar intake

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If you have been very lax with sugar monitoring in your family, you can expect some pushback when you begin to monitor, because of sugar's addictive nature. I have cut sugar completely out of my diet multiple times over my life, and every time, the first 2-4 weeks were horrific and full of cravings and headaches. If you are dealing with a small child who has been raised on mostly sugar, and you suddenly decide even just to wean the sugar out of the diet, you can expect some headaches and misery on both ends of the relationship! But it will be worth it!

When a child eats sugar all day long, it is difficult to notice patterns of behavior based on sugar intake. At the same time, all-day-long sugar intake can lead to serious sleep problems (related to blood sugar crashes, go look it up). While sugar has not been shown to increase hyperactivity in children, statistically speaking, it has been shown to cause sleep trouble, and children react counterintuitively to not getting enough sleep--sleep troubles in children lead to hyperactivity. So in that way, sugar does lead directly to hyperactivity, particularly when the sugar intake is high and spread out over multiple meals and time periods in the day. You are essentially priming the body to require glucose at regular intervals, and when that regular glucose spike doesn't happen because the body is asleep, the sudden blood sugar crash triggers sleep trouble. 

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The same sugar intake that causes sleep trouble also can lead to diabetes, because both sugar-related sleep issues and diabetes involve pancreatic reactions to sugar. It's all about insulin release.

So if you do decide to suddenly begin tracking and limiting sugar intake in yourself or your children, I would say: expect it to be difficult (dealing with cravings and headaches)--particularly if you have previously engaged in so-called permissive parenting. Cutting sugar will take backbone, but in my experience, it is worth it in the end. You may find patterns you didn't notice before, and you might find behavioral troubles suddenly clearing up. This has been true for my family, at least.


The body and spirit are intimately connected--this is why God gave us The Word of Wisdom. But the Word of Wisdom specifically states that it is "a principle with promise, adapted to the capacity of the weak and the weakest of all saints"-- in other words, it is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to true dietary health, and is meant to be gleaned for principles (such as avoiding stimulants, like sugar, perhaps?). D&C 89 only gives us the barest-boned outline of what to eat and not to eat--we are supposed to follow those rules and then use them as patterns to determine the principles behind the wise care of human bodies.

The way we feed our bodies directly impacts our spirits and our behavior. Cutting out and/or limiting stimulants like sugar can bless us and our families.

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