White is NOT right when it comes to sugar (..and rice…and bread!)
We’ve probably all suspected it for a long, long time but there’s now growing empirical evidence that in the pursuit of perfect-looking white sugar and fluffy white bread rolls and rice, we’ve emptied these products of their original nutritional value and have, in the process, increased our risk of disease. Richard Weisinger of La Trobe University in Melbourne Australia has recently reported finding important nutritional health benefits in products that are removed when processing white sugar.
“When sugar is processed, the stuff that is thrown away seems to have a lot of polyphenols” he explained recently.
Polyphenols are natural plant chemicals that have powerful antioxidant properties and numerous potential health benefits. One of these potential benefits, suggests Weisinger, is to reduce the amount of fat our body retains after eating a fatty meal. Returning polyphenols to our refined sugar has the potential to reduce insulin resistance and diabetes.
In the experiments Weisinger used mice to test the benefits of polyphenols in sugar. He found that polyphenols reduced the amount of fat that mice stored in their bodies. The mice given the polyphenols did not get as fat as the ones without the polyphenols.
Weisinger explained that these benefits are specific to polyphenols from sugar cane which are different from those found in other food sources such as green tea. He hopes his research can be used to benefit individuals at risk of diabetes by reducing insulin resistance. Insulin is produced in the body (as we know by the pancreas). It removes sugar from the bloodstream and stores excess sugar as saturated fat. Insulin resistance, the cause of diabetes, leads to an inability to remove sugar from the blood.
Researchers are unsure precisely how polyphenols act in the body to reduce fat intake, but Weisinger has some ideas:
“Polyphenols increase energy excretion and make it more difficult to store fat, For example, instead of your body absorbing all of the calories from a meal, it will only keep 90% of the calories. The remaining calories are excreted in faeces.”
Weisinger goes on to explain that larger fat cells, that store a lot of fat, release certain hormones that are inflammatory – certainly not something that pancreatitis sufferers need! Any inflammatory inducing hormones could cause inflammation of the pancreas and cause a flare-up.
So, what’s the upshot of this research for the pancreatitis sufferer. Well, firstly as we’ve been reinforcing throughout previous articles, it is best to remove the need for additional sugar in the diet. Any additional blood sugar is going to put pressure on the pancreas to produce the insulin required to remove the sugar from the bloodstream. Everyone’s tolerance of sugar will be different, but if you are currently adding sugar-based products to your cooking or tea and coffee, then it will be best to use sugar cane products with the least level of processing. From the article I read about Weisinger’s research it wasn’t clear what alternatives to white cane sugar there might be. One could presume that raw can sugar would contain a higher number of polyphenols than the white.
There’s obviously a lot more research that needs to be done in this area, but I still tend to think that the pancreatitis sufferer will do well to continue to reduce his/her ‘sweetness habit’ and in the process use natural sweetners such as stevia.
Oh, some may have been wondering why we ever started removing the polyphenols from sugar cane. As Weisinger explains, “Polyphenols are bitter. People like white, beautiful and very sweet sugar”. Just reinforces our belief that we’ve become increasingly addicted to sweetness in our food and we must start to tame the sugar beast before it gets completely out of control! Colour in our food is a very good thing.
Till next time.
It seems as though everyone faces sugar cravings on a reasonably regular basis. Some believe that sugar has become an addiction as a result of it being surreptitiously added to many of the processed foods we eat. Sugar certainly is a sneaky substance – it seems to creep up on us – the more we have the more we want. Who can remember as a child rarely having sugar treats – soda and soft drinks, lollies and desserts were the rarity rather than the norm. Nowadays, sugar is omnipresent!
For the pancreatitis sufferer, added sugar (in fact as we’ve heard previously – added anything – most food additives can prove problematic for pancreatitis) can be a real source of concern. In really basic terms, added sugar means added calories which mean added workload for the pancreas. People with pancreatitis must be concerned with what they put in their mouths and one thing they’ve got to be careful of is adding empty, non-nutritious substances like sugar.
So, what to do about this if you happen to be one of those (let’s face it, that’s all of us!) who can’t seem to crack the sugar habit? Here’s a step process to help you overcome the sugar cravings.
- Stop adding sugar to the food you eat. People who love sugar in their coffee hate this one, but as any coffee aficionado will tell you, sugar spoils the coffee taste. So, stop putting the 2-3 lumps or teaspoons into your latest brew. Give it a try for awhile and see how it goes – after awhile you really will start to enjoy the flavor!
- If you really must have a sweet flavor added to your coffee or other food, then replace the sugar with one of the natural sweeteners such as stevia. As we’ve written, Stevia is a naturally occurring substance with minimal calorific value. It’s not quite the same taste as sugar, but it is still adds a sweetness – and what’s more it only takes a very small amount to add the flavor. You can get stevia in powder or liquid form from your nearest health store. I prefer the powdered form.
- Take a note of what sugar you are consuming. As pancreatitis sufferers we must be reviewing food labels and now you must pay particular attention to the amount of sugar in the food you eat. Remember – look out for anything that has ‘ose’ in it. Sucrose, fructose, – it’s all sugar! As is any form of ‘syrup’!
- Finally, think before you eat! Consider the food you are about to it. Tell yourself it is nourishing, is adding to your ability to control pancreatitis and that it is naturally sweet. Might sound strange, but try it. As you gradually remove sugar from you life, you begin to realize the sweetness that occurs naturally in the food you eat. And finally –
- If all this fails, just go ‘cold turkey’. Cut out all added sugar. If you give it a go for a few weeks you’ll be amazed at how your tastes change and if you stick with it, soon you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about!
Well, everyone, this is probably going to be my last post before Christmas. We really do hope you have an enjoyable, peaceful and pain-free festive period. All the best to you all for 2009 and thank you for being a part of our community.
Oh, nearly forgot! Given the season, here’s a little egg-nog replacement recipe that I really like that is low in fat and high in flavor.
Fill a cup with warm to hot, low-fat milk or soy. (Only use the product you are able to tolerate. If milk or soy don’t agree with you, then try rice milk) Add a small (one quarter teaspoon of stevia powder and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Stir or whisk to add a froth. Enjoy!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Please let us know if you have any thoughts on this. Leave a comment here or email us at email@example.com
Bill & Jenny
Sugar cravings!! My guess is we’ve all had them and on many occasions we’ve probably succumbed to them and reached for the nearest chocolate bar! Why have we become so beholden to sweetness in our food? My take is that it’s happened gradually over time. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect the amount of sugar added to the foods we eat has gradually increased over the decades as food has become increasingly processed and packaged for easier storage and transportation. We spoke about food additives in a recent post, but sugar is probably the most common additive there is.
I read recently that sugar is addictive. Not sure whether that is the case, however what is certain is that we do find sweet foods more enjoyable, mostly I think because our tastes have been diverted from nourishment towards ‘comfort’ and easy access as more and more sugar has been added to the food we consume. Of course, this can have significant implications for the pancreatitis sufferer. With diminished pancreatic function comes the greater risk of diabetes mellitus. So, it’s important for people with pancreatitis to be particularly mindful of their sugar intake (as well as the fat content in the foods they consume!). The extent to which one must do so of course depends upon the severity of your individual pancreatitis, but it is our belief that everyone with pancreatitis (in fact probably everyone in the western world!) can benefit from keeping sugar intake in check.
Reviewing food labels becomes essential though for anyone with pancreatitis. Sugar seems to be in everything! And, you can’t rely on your taste buds. Things that taste bitter, such as tomato sauce, can have a high sugar content. As we mention in the ebook, ‘Cooking Hints and Recipes for Pancreatitis’, when checking labels, look out for anything with ‘ose’ in the ingredients. Glucose, fructose, sucrose are all forms of sugars and all have the same effect in the body – they make the pancreas work harder! Something we certainly don’t want or need. The same goes for ‘syrups’. Oh, one other thing to watch for is when sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients. In Australia (and perhaps in other countries – can anyone confirm?) ingredients in foods are listed by amount with the largest ingredient coming first and so on down the list of ingredients.
So, make sure you check those labels! More on how to tame the sugar beast in future posts. Please let us know if you have any thoughts on this. Leave a comment here or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bill & Jenny
We’ve been hearing a bit lately about a persons waist measurement being a good general health indicator. The focus of much of the television advertising we’ve seen has been on reducing heart disease, but the incidence of cancer has also been mentioned as having a strong link to girth size. As it turns out there has been some research in this area relevant to the incidence of pancreatic cancer in women. And the correlation is quite startling! In an article in the UK newspaper the Telegraph it was reported earlier this year that obese women who have excess belly fat are 70 per cent more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. The article referred to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer which found a link between waist-to-hip ratios and pancreatic cancer incidence in post-menopausal women.
Dr Juhua Luo, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, who led the research said, “We found that the risk of developing pancreatic cancer was significantly raised in obese postmenopausal women who carry most of their excess weight around the stomach. Of the American women surveyed in the study, 251 developed pancreatic cancer and when other risk factos such as smoking and age were factored out, the disease was far more prvalent in the obese than in those with small waist to hip ratios.
As readers of our book ‘Beating Pancreatitis – How to Get Healthy and Enjoy Life Again’ would know, obesity can be a factor in the development of pancreatitis and having pancreatitis increases one’s chances of developing pancreatic cancer. The relationship seems quite clear doesn’t it – to reduce the risk of developing pancreatitis keep your waist measurement within the recommended levels. This factor, we believe also has importance in the management of pancreatitis. We realize that many with pancreatitis have trouble in maintaining healthy weight and their waist measurements are low as a result of having the condition. As always, it seems to relate to the severity of the condition. Many with pancreatitis who remain overweight should think very carefully about how they are managing their health. As Dr Luo said, ” We know that carrying a high proportion of abdominal fat is associated with increased levels of insulin, so we think this may cause the link between obesity and pancreatic cancer”.
The message we think is clear – if you have a fat stomach and you have pancreatitis you are putting too much strain on your pancreas and therefore you are raising the risk of not only a greater number of pancreatitis flares but also your chances of developing pancreatic cancer.
To check on your waist-to-hip ratio take your waist measurement level with the belly button, then divide it by the hip circumference at the widest point. For men, the ratio should ideally not be over 0.9 and for women it should not go beyond 0.85.
We’d welcome the feelings of others on this matter. Please post any information or thoughts you might have on this matter.
In the meantime if you are interested you might wish to visit our site at http:www.pancreatitis-diet.com
Bye for now
Jenny & Bill
Hi again everyone!
Just read a very interesting article in relation to food additives. It was written by Bill Statham, the author of the international best seller, “The Chemical Maze – Your Guide to Food Additives and Cosmetic Ingredients”. In this article which focusses on additives to food for the purpose of altering the color of food (and thereby, apparently making it more alluring to the consumer), Bill refers to a study completed earlier this year in the UK.
This study by the UK Food Standards Authority (FSA) called on food manufacturers to voluntarily remove six synthetic colors from processed foods and beverages. These colors include:
102 – Tartrazine
104 – Quinoline yellow
110 – Sunset yellow
122 – Azorubine or Carmoise
124 – Ponceau 4R
129 – Allura red AC
We haven’t seen anything in the research that states categorically that food color additives can cause pancreatitis but we’re certain that for some people these could be a trigger to a flare up. The Australian and New Zealand Food Standards authority certainly found some very interesting reactions for some people. These include: rashes and swelling of the skin, irritable bowel symptoms, behavioural changes in children and headaches.
If anyone has any personal experiences in relation to food color additives and pancreatitis we’d certainly like to hear from you.
By the way, some sites that might be worth referring to if you are interested include:
You may need to cut and paste these addresses into your web-browser
Jenny & Bill
Firstly, our apologies for not posting for awhile. We’ve had some technical problems! Should be sorted out now.
Some people would remember an item we posted advising of the wonderful spirit of pancreatic sufferer Randy Pausch. Randy, a Professor at Carnegie-Mellon University had become quite famous for his ‘Last Lecture’. This featured in a series of You Tube video clips. We watched the whole lot in one sitting – it was very moving and inspirational. You can see the first of these at http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=ji5_MqicxSo
Unfortunately, Randy has now passed on, but not before passing on his wonderful wisdom on the important things in life. Our deepest sympathies go out to Randy’s wife, kids and larger family. He will undoubtedly be sorely missed.
Closer to home we have also been touched by the recent passing of friend Anne Kassulke, who was also claimed by pancreatic cancer. Anne will be greatly missed by husband Trevor and family. You have our most sincere and heartfelt sympathies Trev.
Once again, our apologies on being ‘silent’ for awhile. More news to come soon. Hope everyone is keeping well. Please don’t hesitate to sign up and make comments on this blog.
Best wishes and best of health to you all.
Jenny and Bil
The final step in my approach, is to clearly state your expectations and goals for the visit to discuss pain management for pancreatitis. This is the stage when both you and your physician establish the “game plan”.
Again, being specific is the best way to do this. For example, if you believe that more tests should be run to find a possible treatable cause to your pancreatitis pain, then state that. If, on the other hand, you believe that all appropriate tests have been done and all you want is assistance in controlling your pain, state that.
In my case I was up-front with my belief that the pancreatitis pain was not going to “magically” disappear; that I accepted that it was going to be part of my life; but I didn’t accept that there was nothing the medical field could do. I made it very clear that I expected to leave that day with medicine to reduce the pain to more tolerable levels (I felt that an average pain of a 4 wasn’t too much to ask for) and with a treatment plan that acknowledged that I needed long-term medical care.
Like your pain descriptions, your goals will be unique to you. However, what is common to all pain patients is his or her right to have pain treated. For most situations, do not accept the advice that pain treatment should be delayed until a cause can be found or withheld completely because all tests and exams are normal. In my opinion, pancreatitis pain should be treated through pain management for pancreatitis, regardless of why it is there.
The first step when discussing chronic pain for pancreatitis is to be comfortable talking about it. In my case, admitting that I had chronic pain felt like announcing to the world that “I am a wimp and a failure.” I became anxious, and I think my body language conveyed the idea that I didn’t deserve to be taken seriously.
After I learned to accept that pain was not a weakness in my character, I was able to discuss what it felt like, how often it bothered me, and how bad it gets in a more matter-of-fact way. This also conveyed that I expected and deserved to be listened to.
Being comfortable also reduces the chance that your emotions could take over the situation. Emotions are part of the examination, no doubt. Physicians will ask you how the pain impacts your quality of life, but they will also look for signs that suggest you are exaggerating your situation.
“Histrionics” is the term that is often used to describe overly dramatic examinations. Bizarre and unusual descriptions or peculiar behavior can all be seen as dramatic. Avoid focusing on frustrating or failed previous physician care because this can also side-track your doctor from properly treating chronic pain.
Talking to your Doctor about Chronic Pain
When asked about pain management for pancreatitis, I am frequently asked how to talk about it with a doctor. It would seem as if this should be a simple matter. After all, outside of routine visits, pain is probably the most common reason for seeing a doctor. It would seem natural then to assume your doctor would be very proficient in diagnosing and treating chronic pancreatitis pain. However, in my experience, this is not so. I often left a physician’s office believing that my doctor didn’t quite “get it”.
Why is this? Over the years, I have learned that many factors affect diagnosing painful symptoms. The obvious factor is that there are many different kinds of pain. Pain can be either acute or chronic. Acute pain is relatively easy to assess and treatment is usually straight forward and curative. Chronic pain, however, is the opposite: it is difficult to assess and treatment is complex and most likely will not cure. Assessing and treating chronic pain requires time, patience and commitment from both the patient and the physician.
I think that the biggest factor that influences our treatment is that chronic pain often cannot be “proven” by methods that doctors are most comfortable with. Lab tests, radiology procedures (x-rays, CTs, MRIs etc) and physical exams may not show reasons for the pain. Because of this, doctors have to rely mainly on what the patient says or how s/he behaves during the exam. That is why it is very important to learn how to communicate with your doctor. Your words as well as body language will virtually be the physician’s diagnostic tool and you want to provide them with the best tool you can.
The third installment of pain management for pancreatitis is coming soon
We would like to introduce you to our upcoming series of articles on pain management for pancreatitis. We’re really happy that our friend June Henry has agreed to write a series of articles on this most important of issues. June has suffered from pancreatitis for a number of years and has enormous personal experience in dealing with the day-to-day issues sufferers face. She has ‘been through the mill’, so to speak, and has now kindly offered to give you all the benefit of her experiences, to be your friendly guide and to assist you through the ‘maze’ that dealing with pancreatitis can so often be.
As we’ve discovered over recent months, every person’s experiences with pancreatitis and with the medical systems they encounter because of it, are very different. It’s impossible to cover every individual situation. However, we’ve also discovered a remarkable similarity in the nature of treatment and the responses patients have had. With June you will have a reference point – someone who has more than likely been through similar situations as you have been facing. Consequently, we’re sure you will find June’s articles not only to be very, very informative, but also challenging – they will make you think about what your experiences have been, how they may have differed from those of others etc. As a consequence, it is our hope (and June’s) that you will let us know what these differences have been and how you have been able to best manage them. Through this exchange we should then be able to build up a body of knowledge from which everyone can share and benefit.
We’re really excited about this and we hope you are too. The first of June’s series of articles on pain management for pancreatitis will be coming soon.