Cake versus Kale

January is a time for New Year resolutions and after the festivities of Christmas many of you will be thinking about setting a weight loss goal.

Weight management we are told is simple – it is just a matter of calories in and calories out and we would all be at our ideal weight.

However, this is clearly not the case.  In the UK over 70% of adults above the age of 45 are overweight or obese.  That is because food is more than just calories, it is information that our cells need to function, information that our metabolism can use to either run efficiently or just sluggishly trudge along.

One of the biggest myths regarding food is that all calories are created equal.  The fact is the calories you get from Kale is going to have a completely different impact on your body than the calories from cakes and other sugary loaded foods.

So, let us have a look at what those calories from cakes and other sugary foods actually do to your body.

When you eat sweet and other sugary, refined carbs or even fruit juices, your gut quickly absorbs the fiber-free sugars, fructose, and glucose. The glucose spikes your blood sugar, starting a domino effect of high insulin and a cascade of hormonal responses that kick bad biochemistry into gear. The high insulin increases storage of belly fat, increases inflammation, and raises triglycerides; it lowers HDL (good cholesterol, raises blood pressure, lowers testosterone in men, and contributes to infertility in women.

Your appetite is increased because of insulin’s effect on your brain chemistry. The insulin blocks your appetite-control hormone leptin. You become more leptin resistant, so the brain never gets the “I’m full” signal. Instead, it thinks you are starving. Your pleasure-based reward centre is triggered, driving you to consume more sugar and fuelling your sugar addiction.

Kale on the other hand, is rich in fiber and low in carbohydrates and sugar. You’d have to eat a huge amount of leafy greens to reach the same number of calories that just one small bag of sweets could provide, and thanks to fiber you’d be full long before that could ever happen.

There would be no blood sugar or insulin spike, no fatty liver, and no hormonal chaos from eating a nice hearty helping of kale. The fiber would also cause your stomach to distend, sending signals to your brain that you were full. There would be no triggering of the addiction reward centre in the brain. And you would get many extra benefits that optimize metabolism, lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, and boost detoxification from all the phytonutrients that kale has to offer.

Eating well should not be all about watching quantity, you need to be paying attention to quality. Real foods like colourful vegetables, low-glycemic fruits, healthy fats (like nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, etc.), gluten-free whole grains, legumes, and protein such as meat, fish and eggs are going to give your cells the information they need to function at their very best.

So, choose kale over cake and focus on quality more than quantity; it will change your relationship to food and your health will thank you.

Wishing you all health and happiness for 2019

Sharon Sinclair

Nutritional Therapist for Chanctonbury Health Care




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