The Wonderful World of Sugars

Oh sugar, sugar. Something few can resist, but how often do we stop and think about its effects?

Our bodies break down complex carbohydrates into starches and then glucose through the enzymes in our saliva. Fruit, sugars and grains (simple and complex carbohydrates), enter the bloodstream at different rates. Glycemic index refers to the speed at which foods enter the bloodstream and induce insulin release. Foods with a high glycemic index can wreak havoc with your body’s energy levels and metabolic rate.


Too much glucose entering the bloodstream releases too much insulin to counteract it. As a result, the brain steps in and shuts down the liver, stopping the flow of glucose and release of insulin. The brain has now deprived itself of its main source of energy by shutting down the liver.


Two things the brain does not store is energy and oxygen. Now the brain has to slow down the body’s metabolic rate while it goes after its second source of energy, muscle, in order to conserve the available amount of glucose in the bloodstream.


Every time you feel tired or sleepy after eating, you should know that the sugars and carbohydrates entered your bloodstream too quickly, resulting in this process. This is also why most people who go on diets lose muscle over fat, because body fat is the most difficult to convert into fuel.


High glycemic foods include:


  • Commercially made refined cereals
  • Rice (white and brown) and rice cakes
  • Potatoes, carrots, corn, parsnips, pinto, and garbanzo beans
  • Bananas, raisins, apricots and oranges
  • Pasta and refined breads

Low glycemic foods include:


  • Oatmeal, barley, whole grain breads
  • Apple, pears, peaches, grapes, grapefruit, plums, and cherries
  • Lentils, soybeans, kidney beans and tomatoes
  • Fruit sugars (fructose)



If you’re thinking of juicing, just note that the fiber in fruits and vegetables play a role in slowing the release of glucose into the bloodstream. Most fruits and vegetables are high in fiber (with the exception of bananas, dried fruits, carrots and corn), and juicing strips them of all fiber, leading to a fast release of sugar into the bloodstream.