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Our Sweet Poison: Sugar

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Hello Everyone!

Quite a few of you I know are interested in health, diet, how to stay in shape and what is driving the obesity pandemic, so our team here at Learning it, Loving it have put this post together for you. Not only this, but Teacher Chloe used to be a competitive, natural, body builder so she is definitely into this topic and has wanted us to do a post on this since we began!


Speaking Part 1

Idioms to try and use today


  • sugar-coat the pill / situation – trying to make bad news or a difficult task easier to accept or come to terms with. There’s no point trying to sugar coat the situation, idioms have to be understood and learnt well because native speakers use them more than regular verb formations!
  • a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down – when a bribe or some form of remuneration, compensation is given to help the acceptance of a difficult task for the benefit of that person. Well, he didn’t want to study for the exams but is father promised him a car if he got excellent grades – nothing like a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, is there?!
  • give someone some sugar – to give someone a kiss
  • sweet as honey – someone is very charming or pleasant. Teacher Leo’s daughter is as sweet as honey, she is always smiling, so charming and very polite!

  • sugar daddy – A wealthy, usually older man who gives expensive gifts to someone much younger in return for companionship or sexual favours.
  • fat lot of good – When something just wasn’t worth the time, effort or money. A fat lot of good it did me getting those budget flights, I spent more time travelling than on holiday!
  • a fat cat – a very wealthy and powerful businessman. The fat cats of Crane Industries have decided to give themselves another fat (generous) pay rise!
  • chew the fat – to think about or ruminate on something. Having spent several days chewing the fat on whether to get a dog or not I now have an answer. Yes!
  • the fat of the land – much desired or wanted resources or gains for little effort. Usually used when planning an imaginary future.  Let’s just quit our jobs, leave the city, buy a farm and live off the fat of the land
  • work some fat off – to put time and effort into a project to further its completion. Teacher Chloe has to work some more fat off this blog post before she can post it

Idioms exercise:

Try coming up with your own sentences using the idioms above! Write them in the comments box below, we always love to see how our students are getting on!


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Eating Routines

If you’re studying alone record yourself with your phone’s audio recorder and then try and pick up (find) some of your mistakes. If there are two or more of you, take turns asking and answering these questions. For extra points, try incorporating the idioms above and some from previous lessons in your answers! No holds barred! 😉

Can you remember what you have eaten today?

Can you think of the most unhealthy food in your country?

What should people eat the most?

What is your idea of healthy food?

What diets have you heard about?

Do your parents eat healthier food than you do? Are your grandparents into eating healthily?

Are people generally healthy in your country?

What things would you like to change about your eating habits?

Thinking of the traditional food in your country, what is it like and is it healthy?

Can eating junk food affect how long you live?

Is drinking fruit juice healthier than drinking fizzy drinks?


The following is an extract from the Soda, Squash and Juice article by Daniel Cossins and Graham Lawton published in The New Scientist: Magazine issue 3116, published 11 March 2017 

  1. Read the article while recording yourself with your phone’s audio recorder and listen to the playback. You’ll be amazed how many pronunciation mistakes you can pick up (find) yourselves and correct!
  2. Try and figure out what the underlined expressions and phrasal verbs mean. There are explanations below
  3. Summarise the article either verbally or written. Aim for around 80 words if you’ve chosen the written summary

Sugary drinks rot your teeth, and the more you drink, the more they will rot. Fizzy pop is generally assumed to be the worst. That is not because of dissolved CO2 – it is a myth that sparkling mineral water is any worse for your teeth than the plain variety – but because of the combination of sugar and common flavourings such as phosphoric acid.

Their high sugar content means squashes and sodas deliver a huge calorie hit without filling you up: one standard can of a drink like cola provides more than the recommended daily amount of “free” or added sugar. That piles in excess energy that we store as fat. Those who regularly imbibe sugary drinks are more likely to be overweight, regardless of income or ethnicity, and consuming a can of sweetened fizz or the equivalent a day increases the risk of type 2 diabetes by a quarter.

Overall, this form of liquid sustenance has little to recommend it. We swallow 1.7 litres of fluids on average a day – and with them a lot of myths about what is, and isn’t good for us

Diet sodas
So, if the main problem with sugary drinks is sugar, eliminate that and you eliminate the problem, right?

Not so fast. Some studies indicate that diet sodas help with weight loss, but others find a seemingly paradoxical association with weight gain. Mice consuming artificial sweeteners can even develop glucose intolerance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes.

It is tricky to pin down cause and effect in human studies, says Vasanti Malik, a nutrition scientist at Harvard University: people who are already overweight may be consuming diet drinks in an effort to lose weight, skewing the stats. And the animal studies have been criticised as unrealistic, with mice or rats in some experiments consuming quantities of sweeteners equivalent to us gobbling a few hundred tablets a day.

But there are plenty of reasons why low-calorie sweeteners might not always have their intended effect. One is psychology: you had a diet cola this afternoon, so you can have an ice cream this evening. Alternatively it could be that the intenseness of the artificial stuff, which can be 200 times as sweet as sugar, drives us to prefer sweet things, says Malik. Or perhaps sweeteners disrupt our gut bacteria, or our normal hormonal response to sugar intake. “As a result, the body doesn’t respond as well when real sugar is consumed,” says Susan Swithers at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, leading to weight gain.

The latest review concluded last year that choosing diet drinks over normal sugary drinks can contribute to weight loss. But the uncertainty should give us pause for thought, says Swithers. “The reality is that no one should be drinking a sweetened beverage every day, whether it’s regular soda or ‘diet’ soda,” she says. “It’s like candy in a can either way.”

Fruit juices
Pure fruit juice feels like a healthy alternative. It’s 100 per cent fruit, after all, and contains good stuff that fizzy drinks don’t, such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The UK National Health Service says one small 150 millilitre glass of pure fruit juice counts towards your five-a-day.

But only one. Fruit juice is missing a lot that fruit has: the juice of one orange contains 0.4 grams of fibre, compared with 1.7 grams in an actual orange. And it is as sickly sweet as sweetened drinks. The World Health Organization recommends that the natural sugar in fruit juice should be lumped together with that added to food and sweetened drinks as free sugar, and advises strict limits on how much we should consume. Orange juice and Coca-Cola contain roughly the same amount, and some juices even more (see “Sugar to go”). That suggests pure fruit juices should carry the same health warnings as added-sugar drinks.

In truth, we don’t know whether fruit juices are better or worse for you than soda, says epidemiologist Nita Forouhi of the University of Cambridge: other lifestyle factors such as income, diet, smoking and exercise that may differ between habitual juice drinkers and habitual soda drinkers make it hard to draw watertight conclusions.

A review by Forouhi’s group and others in 2015 did conclude that added-sugar drinks, artificially sweetened drinks and fruit juices were all potentially associated with type 2 diabetes, but differing study designs mean the evidence for artificially sweetened drinks and fruit juices might be “subject to bias”. In other words, the jury’s still out.


Vocabulary in the Text

Ideally you want to try and figure out (discover) the meaning of the words in the text before checking the meaning here. This helps you to become more independent

  • to rot your teeth – something that causes your teeth to go bad, decay
  • squashes and sodas – fruit drinks and fizzy drinks
  • a huge calorie hit – a large amount of calories
  • piles in – adds a large quantity into something
  • lumped together with – put in the same category  as something
  • to draw watertight conclusions – to come to definite conclusions
  • the jury’s still out – more research needs to be done before the results are clear



Watch the video and try and answer the questions below it




  1. What is the primary function of Leptin? (1:12)
  2. What is the holy grail of obesity research? (1:55)
  3. What is it all about? (2:15)
  4. If a diabetic with the blood glucose level of 300 has this level reduced to 100 after an insulin injection, what happened to the other 200 points of blood sugar? (3:00)
  5. What is the role of Insulin? (3:17)
  6. Summarise what happens to a normal person when insulin is injected into them every time they eat something (3:54 – 6:30)
  7. What stops Leptin from working – sending the ‘full’ signal? (7:18)
  8. What does having more Insulin mean? (7:30)
  9. Where does all this excess insulin come from? (7:45)


Speaking Part 2

  1. Having watched the above video and drawing upon your own common sense, what 4 tips would you think are good for parents when raising children as regards to diet and exercise?
  2. Now watch the short video – does your advice match up? Where it doesn’t, do you agree / disagree with Dr. Lustig?



Listening Answers

  1. Leptin goes from your fat cells to your brain and tells you brain you@ve had enough and you can burn energy at a noraml rate. it limits what you eat and let’s you exercise spontaneously
  2. Discovering what causes leptin resistance
  3. Finding out why Leptin worked 30 years ago and doesn’t today
  4. They went to fat
  5. Insulin converts sugar to fat
  6. Every time they eat, the insulin will drive a portion of the calories consumed straight to fat. This creates an energy deficit which the body will need to make-up by consuming extra calories. This, coupled with a further insulin injection, will drive further fat gain until the deficit is made up. This energy deficit caused by the insulin makes you feel very bad and lacking in energy.
  7. Insulin stops leptin working at the brain and makes you hungry
  8. The higher your insulin goes, the more energy you store as fat, and the hungrier you get.
  9. It comes from the industrialised global diet.

Don’t forget to leave us a quick comment or share your writing answers in the comments box below.


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Leon Ephraïm

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