Summer 2001
Fall 2000
Winter 2000
Sharon Dina


Welcome to our second edition of "Guardian Update" !!! In keeping with our theme, Knowledge = Power,  we are proud to include a third article by Sharon Dina, MS, CDN, about the hazards of too much sugar.  Ms. Dina is now working part time at the Fairhaven Community Health Center, and is conducting BIA tests and nutritional assessments for people living with HIV/AIDS.


 and so are grains, like wheat, corn and oats.  That means that anything made from grains, like bread, bagels, cereals, cookies, snack cakes, and pasta are carbohydrates, too.  Sugar, the ultimate carbohydrate, began its life as a sugar cane or sugar beet plant, so it's a carbohydrate, too.  And so is the high fructose corn syrup that's found in so many soft drinks and processed foods.

Here's the important part: A carbohydrate starts out life as a plant, but it ends its life in our bloodstream as sugar.   All carbohydrates break down into sugar in the body.  It doesn't matter if it's a vegetable such as broccoli, or a processed snack cake; it all breaks down into sugar.  There is, however, one big difference: the broccoli, because it contains a lot of fiber, takes a long time before it becomes sugar in your bloodstream.  Your body likes it that way.  When you eat that broccoli and it starts to digest, your body gets a signal to make a hormone called insulin.  Insulin's job is to meet the sugar that's entering your bloodstream and escort it into the muscle cells where it's used for fuel, otherwise known as energy.  Remember that?   As the broccoli slowly digests, it provides a nice, steady stream of energy, which your body can use to power your muscles, not to mention your brain.  The snack cake, on the other hand, is very quickly digested.  It's already full of sugar, and the other main ingredient, the flour, is so highly processed that it also quickly becomes sugar.  Now your body gets the signal to make a lot of insulin in order to handle the overload of sugar being dumped into the bloodstream all at once.  The insulin has to work overtime to make sure that the sugar level in the bloodstream doesn't get too high.

Herein lies the problem: After years of overuse, and depending on other factors such as a family history of diabetes, or the use of HIV medications, your body starts to have trouble getting rid of that sugar in your blood.  You're making enough insulin, in fact, usually too much,           

"Sharon Says:"

Sweet and Dangerous
By Sharon Dina

Sugar.  It's that white, granular, sweet stuff that we put in coffee, or use to make candy, or sweeten baked goods, right?   Sort of.

If you've known anyone, friend or family member, who has diabetes, you've probably heard them talk about "sugar in the blood."  The truth is, we all have sugar in our blood.  It's the fuel our body runs on.  When it's in our bloodstream it's known as glucose.  Diabetes is a disorder of blood sugar metabolism, which means that sugar, or glucose, levels become too high and lead to complications in circulation, eyesight, heart and kidney function.

How does the sugar get into the bloodstream in the first place?  You eat sugar, right?  Yes and no.  You could, but that's not the only way, nor is it the best way.  (More about that later.)   The sugar, or glucose, in our bloodstream comes from the carbohydrates we eat.  A carbohydrate is anything that starts out life as a plant.  If it grew from the ground, it's a carbohydrate.  Vegetables are carbohydrates, fruits are carbohydrates,


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