Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey is one of my favorite children’s books of all time. It’s a simple story but I have always loved Little Sal picking berries with her mother and getting all mixed up with the bears on Blueberry Hill.
It’s wasn’t until I became an integrative Health Coach that I thought more about the whole idea of storing up fruit for the winter. On the surface, the answer seems straight forward. Fruit does not grow in most cold climates in the winter. With the advent of grocery stores and worldwide shipping we now have fruits from any season at all seasons. Back when fruit was scarce in the winter mammals stored up fruit to get through the winter. For humans this mean canning and preserving fruit.
For animals like bears, they store up the fruit in their bodies in the form of fat for the long winter.
Humans, back before canning and preserving, were not much different than bears. We think of summer fruit as refreshing and light. However, in the Hunter-Gatherer days fruit was eaten to fatten up for the winter, just like bears.
Sounds a bit crazy, right? Well actually the sugar in fruit is fructose. Fructose is the sugar that breaks down the quickest to Fat. When fructose gets broken down it goes straight to the liver and get converted to Triglycerides to be stored. The fructose triggers an insulin response. When the body senses the fructose is there, the Pancreas then send out insulin. What most people don’t know is that insulin is a fat storage hormone. It helps the body take that overload of sugar that is not immediately used as fuel and stores it as fat.
Sounds like I am saying don’t eat fruit doesn’t it?
I am not an anti-fruit person at all. Eating the Rainbow of so many fruits is such a benefit to the body. We need all the antioxidants, vitamins and minerals fruits provide. Blueberries are at the top of the list of Superfoods.
What I am saying is that if you think about the Sugar-Fat connection you can start to understand why things like High Fructose Corn syrup (HFCS) are so bad. Corn sugar is fructose just like all other fruits and veggies. Except HFCS is highly concentrated. It’s only the sugar. No fiber, no other nutrients. Forget that the corn is likely GMO and laden with chemicals. The sugar to fat conversion is bad enough.
HFCS is in so many products. The organic and gluten-free industries have removed HFCS but they do add other forms of sugar to their products. Different sugars get broken down into different kinds of fats but sugar is still sugar and fat is still fat. Too much of any kind of sugar that can not be burned off or used to replenish glycogen stores gets stored as fat. The bears and the Hunter-Gatherers knew what they were doing when they wanted to get through a long hard winter.
We are not bears and we are not Hunter Gatherers. We do not need that much sugar unless we are trying to fatten ourselves up. If you are trying to cut belly fat and decrease your weight, cutting out sugar will go a long way.
In the meantime, eat those awesome summer blueberries and get sugar the natural way as nature intended it.
I think I will go have some Blueberries.