Sweet Poison

Katharine Green
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People take up Nordic walking for numerous reasons. To get fitter, improve their posture, lose weight, tone up, improve their sense of well being, the list is endless…. For those that want to lose weight, their diet must be considered too.

It is hard to ignore the healthy eating campaigner, Jamie Oliver’s latest plea to have a sugar tax. In his eye opening documentary, Sugar Rush, he hopes to persuade government over proposed 20% levy on sweet drinks, which he says would lower demand and raise funds to fight obesity. Sugar has increasingly been referred to as sweet poison, and is now considered the biggest contributor to the obesity crisis. Obesity is associated with cardiovascular risk and with cancer, disability during old age, decreased life expectancy and serious chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, osteoarthritis and hypertension. Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet.

The ‘No sugar’ movement is led by Robert Lustig, professor of paediatric endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco, author of Fat Chance: The Bitter Truth About Sugar. From studying type 2 diabetes over the past decade he concludes that it’s not the total number of calories that matter, but what those calories are made up of. He explains “When people ate 150 calories more every day, the rate of diabetes went up 0.1 per cent. But if those 150 calories came from a can of fizzy drink, the rate went up 1.1 per cent. Added sugar is 11 times more potent at causing diabetes than general calories.” He believes it’s the fructose molecule in sugar that is to blame. It’s a form of sugar the liver struggles to process. This causes the body to produce extra fat in the liver, bloodstream and around the middle. Lustig explains that instead of helping to sate us, some scientists believe that fructose fools our brains into thinking we are not full, so we overeat.

The food industry loves these sweeteners, especially high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), as they make every type of food more palatable – from soup to bagels, ketchup to bread. It is also used in low-fat foods. His theory goes a long way to explaining why the low-fat diets which rose to popularity in the Seventies have coincided with a rise in obesity and related illnesses.

You don’t need to be obese, or have a soft drink habit to need to reduce your sugar intake. Obviously everything in moderation and some sugar is good for you, especially when eating fruit in its natural form. But for many of us the ‘hidden sugars’ in foods are as much a cause of the problem. Most low-fat foods have more sugar than full-fat and are therefore worse for us, even though they might be perceived as being better for us.

So if you want to lose weight, and especially around your middle think about how much sugar you are consuming, especially the hidden sugars. Look at labels, you’ll be shocked to see how much sugar is in foods you consider as savory. Alcohol is an obvious culprit, it’s easy to forget the high sugar content. It is unrealistic to think we can exist without any sugar in our diet, but remember everything in moderation.

How Nordic walking can help

Nordic walking is a fantastic way to help counteract the effects of sugar. To help trim your waist and firm your stomach focus on two things:

Pole plant

Remember to plant the pole firmly into the ground and keep the downwards pressure for as long as you can whilst you push the pole backwards (remembering to keep your shoulders down). This switches on your core abdominals helping to tighten and tone them.

Rotating your torso

The more upper body rotation you can achieve the more you will work your obliques, these muscles will help trim your waist.

Finally don’t forgot your posture; grow tall and you immediately look slimmer in the waist.

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