Type 2 diabetes and SoFAS are hot topics among nutritionists today. Obesity is linked to the rise of type 2 diabetes, and SoFAs may be the cause. What are SoFAs are and how can you get them out of your diet?
The new word SoFAS comes from two foods nutritionists think might be reasons for the rise in obesity - solid fat and added sugar.
It is a catchy phrase - "avoid SoFAS" - because it brings up the picture of a couch potato, but the word has nothing to do with sitting on a sofa.
All fats and sugars are not bad for us. Dietitians who talk about diabetes and SoFAS know this.
They are talking mainly about solid fats and added sugar. Here is the reason.
Over the past 40 years the western world has seen some big changes in eating habits, and those changes have now spread over the world.
There has been a huge increase in the amount of processed foods available in supermarkets, which began replacing local grocery stores about that time.
Add to that the increase in eating out. In the 1970s about 17% of meals were eaten outside the home in the U.S. In 2010 seven out of ten meals are from fast food and restaurants.
Over the same 40 years there has been a 150% increase in fast food restaurants in the U.S. But that is not true only in America. India reports its fast food industry is growing by 41% per year.
Add in the fact that over the past 40 years the amount of calories eaten per day just in America has grown by one-quarter. Some think the way U.S. restaurants steadily increased portions has led to this.
But the growth in obesity is world wide. It is not just how much we eat, it is the content of our diets, and that leads us to diabetes and SoFAs.
When nutritionists talk about solid fat they mean fats that are solid at room temperature. Trans fats are the biggest culprits here.
These are vegetable oils that have had hydrogen added so they become solid, like Crisco. Vegetable oils are liquids. These hydrogenated oils have been used heavily in the past 50 years in convenience foods. The grain-based desserts, like cake and doughnuts, have the most.
Solid fats are found in pizza and french fries. Also ice cream and other dairy based desserts. Even granola bars are included on this list.
The trans fats added to processed foods increase the calories but add nothing to nutrition. These are one source of the "empty calories" that make the Western diet bad for us.
Too many calories and not enough nutrition leads to obesity and a fatty liver. It is one connection between diabetes and SoFAs.
A processed food or fast food diet has more fat calories than a good diet should have, and most of the fat is from hydrogenated oil.
Avoid processed foods, including fast food, and you avoid SoFAS.
Added sugar shows up in our diets most in the form of sodas, then in grain-based desserts.
Another source is fruit and energy drinks, which are supposed to be good for you. But if you read the labels you find many of them have high fructose corn syrup added. These are some of the hidden sugars in diabetes and SoFAS.
Next come dairy based desserts. The very last food on the high sugar list is candy. Everyone knows candy is made of sugar, so we avoid it. But processed foods are a serious problem for us because we often do not see the sugar in them.
One teaspoon of sugar is 4 grams. Know this when you look at the grams of added sugar on labels.
One 12-ounce soda may have 9 teaspoons of sugar, and that's a lot, but a little snack cup of applesauce may have 6 teaspoons of sugar.
One packet of instant oatmeal might have 3-4 teaspoons of sugar added before you fix it. Most breakfast cereals have at least that much too.
Spaghetti and barbecue sauces have several teaspoons of sugar added per serving. A 6-ounce package of flavored yogurt has 7-8 teaspoons of added sugar.
Packaged food manufacturers use sugar to add flavor and give baked food its texture and color. Sugar preserves things like jelly and dairy products. Without sugar bread will not rise.
Sugar is a cheap bulking agent in ice cream and baked goods. Tomato products like ketchup would be too acidic without sugar added.
Remember, all that added sugar will stimulate the release of insulin in a type 2 diabetic, and insulin triggers the storage of sugar as fat.
On average children and young people get 35% of their calories from SoFAS.
This is why obesity has risen among them, leading to a rise in type 2 diabetes in some as young as 11 years old.
Adding to the rise in type 2 diabetes and SoFAS connection has been the use of HFCS, or high fructose corn syrup. It is a hidden sugar that has been used for many years as a cheap way to add sugar to foods and enhance flavor.
You can find foods without it now because of bad publicity, but the damage this added sugar has done leaves many of us struggling with obesity and diabetes because we did not know to look for it.
Fructose is a form of sugar that is not bad for you in its natural form inside fresh fruits. But most of the HFCS used in processed foods comes from corn, not fruit.
We now know that fructose is processed by the liver much faster than any other form of sugar, signalling the release of insulin. This is not bad unless you are diabetic. The problem is that we have been eating too much of it.
So watch out for HFCS. If it is among the first four ingredients on a label, pass it by. Shopping around the outer edges of the grocery store and avoiding the inner aisles is the best way to keep HFCS out of your diet.
Why? Because you will not find any in fresh foods, only in processed and fast food.
The problem that connects type 2 diabetics to SoFAS is obesity. How do SoFAs add to the rise in obesity and the inflammatory disease we call diabetes?
Diabetes and SoFAS meet at our love affair with processed foods. Hamburgers and fries and sugared drinks have done it. A look at the last 40 years makes the case clear.
We must change the way we eat, eliminate the high calorie fast foods and sodas, and go back to the smaller portions that were the norm before eating out became a habit.
It is a personal choice. Make a decision to change, to ignore the constant food advertisements and pass by all the fast food places without stopping.
There are also positive choices: to pick healthy foods instead of empty calories, and to make exercise a daily part of your life. The benefits you will reap far outweigh the pain of struggling to change.
I know because I am in the middle of that struggle, and the benefits I see are what fuel my fight to change. I hope understanding diabetes and SoFAs helps you in your battle too.
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