Sweetness beyond labelling


¿How are labeling regulations evoving?

Several regulations are ruling our way out of an excessive consumption of sugar. The Nutri Score in France, UK and other European countries, the traffic light labeling of nutrients, and more recently the black signal regulations in Chile, Israel, Peru and Mexico, are making more and less successful efforts to communicate to consumers the nutritional quality of foods, and ultimately improving their behaviors. While some labeling regulations, like the Nutriscore, qualify foods in five categories resulting from their nutrition quality, other systems like the ecuatorian traffic light qualifies critical nutrients, like salts, sugar, calories and saturated fats in four categories (green, white, yellow and red). This seems to be a simple and educative method to let consumers choice.  Countries which have implemented black seals, like Chile, Israel or Peru, point into the nutrient density of the food, comparing at a 100g portion every food and setting challenging threshold to keep a product out of the black seal, especially when it comes to sugar. Any product having more sugar than plain milk receives the black seal. The upside of these regulation approach is the fact that there are no portion tricks to make a “bad product” look “good”. However, it is difficult to compare at the same weight a yoghurt, which you eat in 200 g portion, to butter, which you eat in 5 to 10 g portions.  Also, both approaches fail when comparing sugars which have a completely different metabolic fate. Therefore, a non- dairy milk equivalent sweetened with fructose or glucose based carbohydrates, would be rated the same than milk, which combination of sugars (glucose and galactose) is far better in terms of glycemic index and overall metabolic fate of the sugars it contains. Recently approved and published law in Mexico specifically created seals to dissuade consumers for using high levels of sugar, anything about 10% of the calories of the product supplied by sugar. However, just as products with medium /high levels of sugar will be sold with a Stop black seal “High in Sugars”, if you decide to replace any amount of sugar with a high intensity sweetener, even those which can provide synergies and benefits, such as stevia, you will need to write “Contains sweeteners, not recommended for kids”. Any reasonable person reading this will understand that from a marketing point of view, a product high in sugars will have higher chances to be accepted by a customer to a product with a reduced amount of sugar but containing sweeteners and showing a terrible note inviting children to stay away from the product. Therefore, the law is suggesting all and every food manufacturers to keep or replace back sugar into their foods, probably the opposite effect to that one first considered when designing the law.


So: What do we propose?

We consider that the problem is really about three key elements: Setting our metabolism back to the clockwork set up for which it was designed, and out of what is called the metabolic syndrome, and supporting this with reasonable physical activity.  In parallel, educate public and law makers in the needed differentiations among sugars, high intensity sweeteners and fats.


Better Labeling

A simple distinction in those sugar our body can process, turn into sugar or store properly, like glucose, and other which our body will have further difficulties to process, will deplete our phosphate cell reservoirs, and will ultimately increase our fat storage could make a world of differences. The same concept applies to the proper differentiation of fats. Highly oxidative oils should be properly differentiated and receive the right warning messages when compared when healthy fats like cocoa, olive oil and others, such as MCT oil.  This distinction could really stimulate producers to re formulate foods properly and society cash out the benefits of this reformulation.


Better Eating habits

When it comes to habits, this means, to consciously reduce the consumption of inflammatory foods or poor nutrients, like fructose or oxidative fats. This will allow our cell metabolism to go back to high mitochondrial energy and let our reservoirs of nutrients grow, together with cleaning up our nutrient signaling systems and ultimately allowing our metabolic machinery to re balance. The good news is that probably a pain less reduction in the consumption of sugars, the avoidance of artificial sweeteners and the right profile of fat consumption, can fix this enormous dis-balance produced by life style and could allow us to take our body back to a self regulated homeostatic state. Getting a diet where you get ideally below 50 g of sugar a day, and ideally 25 g, is not difficult at all. We can not only have a delicious diet below 50 g of sugar, but we can re balance your metabolism and have the sweet reward we deserve a few times a day, enriching our prebiotic feed and avoiding any damaging metabolic signals to our sweet and GLUT  receptors.


Better Body moving Habits

Finally, our last change relates to our physical habits.  Have you thought of muscle and fat as real organs of our body? Even 15 to 30 minutes of exercise a day can completely change the way your body deals with nutrition. A single cell does not make a change, but building muscle tissues is a full new opportunity to our bodies. It is like receiving a “brand new organ” capable of producing more energy (we can increase dramatically the capacity of our cells to produce more energy, through mitochondrial synthesis), store more glucose and react better to metabolic changes. Together, many cells of any kind can fully make a metabolic difference. The more muscle we have, the higher capacity we have to be more energetic, store glycogen and have glucose buffer capacity, as well as an overall wellbeing. The other way around happens with glucose craving, inflammatory fat cells. The more we have, they will behave like an inflammatory organ inside our bodies. And three weeks of a different habit can fully change the way this landscape looks like and feels, for one side or the other.