The sweet truth - Children face the greatest threat in this health crisis
In addition to oxygen, glucose is another important need for our brain function. It is the primary fuel for neurons to work. It is for this reason neurons store up glucose and need to constantly receive it from our body's blood supply.
Normal brain function requires 80-180mg of glucose per 100ml of blood. The excess range of 180-400mg per 100ml of blood causes discomfort or symptoms which affects several body systems.
Consuming meals on a regular schedule helps us to maintain suitable glucose levels for circulation and normal brain function. The majority of energy consumed by the human brain is used to generate electrical impulses, of which in a 24-hour day, the glucose usage is 115.2 grams, which in calories equals 460 kcal. In an hour the brain, therefore, uses 4.8 grams or 19.2kcal of glucose.
There has been much debate in regards to the Ministry of Health Initiative to remove sugary drinks and other simple carbohydrates from the diets of children in school. This decision can only have positive effects on the future generation and will significantly impact the rate of non-communicable disease in our country. Combating non-communicable disease is a global effort and common sense dictates that there must be evidence to support the initiatives of each country.
In the growing field of research on neuroimmunology, the evidence is stacking on the relationship between the brain and the immune system. Evidence supports that brain health can affect regulation and balancing of inflammation throughout the entire body. Diabetes and diets high in consumption of simple carbohydrates are a few examples of triggers to neuroinflammation, which in the long-term can lead to neurodegenerative disorders.
... The essence is everything in moderation
Our brain's immune soldiers are called microglia cells. They are important to perform vital functions for a healthy brain, however, diets high in simple carbohydrates or conditions such as diabetes increase the activation of these cells which increases brain inflammation. This increase inflammation leads to slow brain function and produces symptoms such as brain fog, slow recall, and limited endurance in reading, depression, and a decline in mental tasks.
It is important to note that these cells have no direct off switch once they become over-activated and are like a machine gun destroying even healthy brain tissue. In the long-term, this also speeds up the brain degenerative processes.
The essence is everything in moderation, as these microglial cells are not bad but a diet that is high in inflammatory foods and other harmful substances does not support brain health.
The solution, therefore, is not about removing sugary drinks, as we all know these are no good, but how much sugar is appropriate and the type of sugar that should be in the diets of our children.
The DRI (dietary reference intake) suggest that no more than 25 per cent of total kcal should come from added sugars. Consuming more than the recommended portion will have a negative impact on one's health.
These include: displacing nutrient-dense foods, reducing the intake of nutrients needed for general health and growth, increase weight gain, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages, increase in dental caries, decrease satiety, a decline in cognition, a decline in memory and increase neuroinflammation.
In addition, knowing the age and gender requirements of calories and macronutrients is important to plan for all, but for this article, our children.
- Children - 4-8 years - protein: 19g per day; carbohydrates: 130g per day; fiber: 25g per day; fat: 25-35 AMDR
- Male - 9-13 years - protein: 34g per day; carbohydrates: 130g per day; fiber: 32g per day; fat: 25-35 AMDR
- Male - 14-18 - protein: 52g per day; carbohydrates: 130g per day; fiber: 38g per day; fat: 25-35 AMDR
- Female - 9-13 - protein: 34g per day; carbohydrates: 130g per day; fiber: 26g per day; fat: 25-35 AMDR
- Female 14-18 - protein: 46g per day; carbohydrates: 130g per day; fiber: 26g per day; fat: 25-35 AMDR
CALORIES BY AGE, GENDER, AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY LEVELS
- Male - 4-8 - Sedentary: 1,400; moderate activity: 1,400-1,600; active: 1,600-2,000
- Male - 9-13 - Sedentary: 1,800; moderate activity: 1,800-2,200; active: 2,000-2,600
- Male - 14-18 - Sedentary: 2,200; moderate activity: 2,400-2,800; active: 2,800-3,200
- Female - 4-8 - Sedentary: 1,200; moderate activity: 1,400-1,600; active: 1,400-1,800
- Female - 9-13 - Sedentary: 1,600; moderate activity: 1,600-2,000; active: 1,800-2,200
- Female - 14-18 - Sedentary: 1,800; moderate activity: 2,000-1,800; active: 2,400
... Focus on opportunities that can support a healthy nation
The rise of non-communicable disease affects every individual:
- For the manufacturers, more profits;
- Healthcare workers - longer hours, increase workload with financial rewards;
- Teachers - increase levels of stress and lower performance;
- Insurance companies - higher rates for coverage and more payouts for medications;
- Consumers - higher claims, diminished quality of life;
- The family - increase in financial burden;
- Economy - increase in unemployment, increase healthcare demands, increase crime rate and lower productivity.
Instead of looking at the loss, why not focus on opportunities that can support a healthy nation.
At this point in the fight against non-communicable diseases, there is no turning back. As a people, it is often when a situation hits home before we get on board and, unfortunately, this should not be the case.
ONLY IN UNITY CAN WE FIGHT THIS HEALTH CRISIS
Our children, who are the future generation, face the greatest threat. Genetically, they are pre-disposed to developing a non-communicable disease and we have an opportunity to change the future health outcome of the nation.
The SWEET TRUTH is that sugar was only available to our ancestors as fruit for only a few months a year or in the form of honey. We have made so many advances that we have added sugar in nearly every processed food.
Let's connect the dots and make a long story short - most everyone knows that carrying around extra weight is unhealthy and simple carbohydrates trigger the biggest surge in blood sugar and are typically the most fattening.
Change is inevitable and we can choose to embrace it and do what is right morally. The hour is late and consequences are mounting, therefore, it is in our best interest to come together as a nation and look beyond our own selfish desires.
Let's play a part in being good stewards of our health and help to make healthy choices for fellow mankind.
- Dr Michelle K-A Hamilton, MDiv, NMD, is a Trained Biofeedback Consultant, Certified Facilitator for Prepare Enrich, CHIP Licensed Facilitator www.drmichellehamilton.org; email: firstname.lastname@example.org