Sugar has often been said to be worse than a cocaine addiction. Its various health risk factors have been proven in studies over and over. It seems almost impossible to escape the addiction and we all are using too much sugar or know somebody who does. Like everybody else, I have ignored the facts and eaten too much sugar in the past but today I eat almost no sugar. Here I will share the bare facts, help you to spot the dangers and also share some tips on how you can replace sugar successfully .
Some interesting studies
The latest study with a group of adolescents by Dr. Robert Lustig, from the department of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, says that sugar is “toxic,” leading to metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
During a nine-day diet, Sugar intake was reduced from about 28 percent of total calories to about 10 percent. Fructose – a form of sugar believed to be particularly bad for health – was reduced from 12 percent to four percent of total calories. Sugary foods were then replaced with starchier alternatives, such as hot dogs, potato chips, and pizza (important to note, these are foods high in Carbs, not “low calorie food” such as kale, salad and apples). The overall number of calories remained the same.
After nine days of having their total dietary sugar reduced, they showed improvements in all of the measures. Overall, their fasting blood sugar levels dropped by 53%, along with the amount of insulin their bodies produced (insulin is normally needed to break down carbohydrates and sugars). Their triglyceride and LDL (bad cholesterol) levels also declined and, most importantly, they showed less fat in their liver.
Interestingly, the children reported feeling less hungry with the new diet. After weighing themselves daily as part of the study’s requirements, one-third of the children said they could not eat enough food to stop losing weight. The children lost an average of nearly two pounds (1 kg) in just nine days, though the aim of the diet was NOT to lose weight.
Though I do not recommend to replace sugar with refined carbohydrates or processed food, it is confirming that sugar is so much more toxic than other starchy food and should be avoided at all cost.
See more on the Time http://time.com/4087775/sugar-is-definitely-toxic-a-new-study-says/ , the study itself is published in the Obesity journal http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/oby.21371/abstract
Various other studies in the past have linked sugar to increased cancer risk, such as Table sugar may increase the risk of breast cancer, according to a new animal study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.
Eating sugar stimulates the release of adrenaline which is responsible for the “high” you might feel after riding a roller coaster. Sugar also triggers the production of your brain’s natural opioids – one of the key factors in addiction. In fact, a recent study published in PlosOne found that sugar is more addictive than cocaine. The researchers believe that the receptors on our tongue that taste “sweet”, evolved in ancestral times when our diets were very low in sugar (5 pounds per year versus the 175 pounds we consume on average today). The result is that our normal self-control mechanisms are overridden, leading to addiction.
See more on the study here http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0000698
8 Sugar facts
- It’s bad for your teeth and leads to tooth decay, your dentist has told you this one over and over.
- It overloads your liver and when the liver can’t process it anymore, it looks for other ways to get out leading to acne breakouts and digestive problems, and eventually you get fatty liver disease.
- High amounts of sugar lead to insulin resistance and can also lead to diabetes. The signs and symptoms of diabetes include increased thirst, increased hunger, frequent urination or urine infections, unexplained weight loss, fatigue, blurred vision and headaches.
- It decreases your body’s production of the appetite control hormone leptin… while simultaneously increasing levels of ghrelin, an appetite-boosting hormone. A vicious circle enrolls which makes you eat more and more.
- Eating too much sugar causes metabolic dysfunction. These include weight gain, abdominal obesity, decreased HDL and increased LDL, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides, and high blood pressure. Also it can lead to Type 2 diabetes, Hypertension, Lipid problems, Heart disease, Polycystic ovarian syndrome, Dementia, psychological and emotional problems, inflammation, suppresses human growth hormone (HGH), immune system impairment, and hormonal issues.
- It increases your uric acid levels. High uric acid levels are a risk factor for heart and kidney disease. The connection between fructose, metabolic syndrome, and your uric acid is now so clear that your uric acid level can now be used as a marker for fructose toxicity.
- One study found that fructose is readily used by cancer “feeding” of it, promoting cell division and speeding their growth, which allow the cancer to spread faster.
- Alzheimer’s disease is another deadly illness that can arise from too much sugar consumption. A growing body of research found a powerful connection between a high-fructose diet and your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, through the same pathway that causes type 2 diabetes. According to some experts, Alzheimer’s and other brain disorders may be caused by the constant burning of glucose for fuel by your brain.
Today, an average American consumes about 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. That is well over 120 pounds (60 Kg) a year. It is recommended to eat no more than 5-10% of your calorie intake by sugar. For a 2000 calorie diet, this would be 25-50 gram or 5-10 teaspoons per day. This includes the hidden sugar in processed food and drinks. It is important to remember that there is a lot of sugar in processed food and your best bet is to replace it by whole foods. If there is more than one item in the ingredient list, it is processed and the risk of added sugar (or other unhealthy additives) is high.
Sugar is a trillion dollar industry and highly protected by the key players. Today’s sugar industry was yesterday’s cigarette industry. Misleading advertisement and information is spread like in no other industry. Almost every processed or refined product has some form of sugar in it. And often you won’t know it is sugar. Here is a list of all the common “sugar” names used. Make it a custom to read ALL ingredients labels of the food you buy and avoid or limit foods with the following ingredients, especially High-Fructose corn syrup (HFCS) being the worse
Sugar in disguise
|Barley Malt||Demerara||Grape Sugar||Raw Sugar|
|Beet Sugar||Dextran||High-fructose Corn Syrup||Refiner’s Syrup|
|Brown Sugar||Dextrose||Honey||Rice Syrup|
|Buttered Syrup||Diastatic Malt||Icing Sugar||Sorbitol|
|Cane Juice||Diatase||Invert Sugar||Sorghum Syrup|
|Cane Sugar||Ethyl Maltol||Lactose||Sucrose|
|Corn Syrup||Fruit Juice||Maltose||Treacle|
|Corn Syrup Solids||Galactose||Malt Syrup||Turbinado Sugar|
|Confectioner’s Sugar||Glucose||Maple Syrup||Yellow Sugar|
|Carob Syrup||Glucose Solids||Molasses|
|Castor Sugar||Golden Sugar||Muscovado Sugar|
|Date Sugar||Golden Syrup||Panocha|
©COPYRIGHT INSTITUTE OF TRANSFORMATIONAL NUTRITION
Find out if you are addicted to sugar
- I love and eat sweet foods daily.
- I can’t resist to eat cookies or (your favorite sweet treat) without over-indulging
- It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning
- I feel great at times but then later on, especially during afternoons, I am really tired
- After eating fruit, my head feels foggy.
- I have digestive problems i.e. constipation, gas, bloating or diarrhea.
- I feel emotionally up and down all the time, irritable, angry or tearful at times.
- I’ve struggled with alcohol and drug addiction or someone in my family has.
- I love to eat something sweet at night.
- My family or partner loves sugar too!
If you answered yes to 3 or more of the above questions, it’s very likely that you have a sugar addiction and react sensitively to.
The good news, there is something you can do about and try to cut down and replace sugar by healthier alternatives. Here are my favorite options:
|This is your best option, as it has no known negative health effects (unless you eat a lot of it) and 0 calories. It has a slightly bitter effect, use sparingly and prefer non-bitter Stevia
|Fruit and vegetables
|Fruits can add sweetness to many dishes, however remember that some fruit have a high Glycemic index and may contribute to blood sugar swings. Apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, carrots can add some great sweetness to your dishes instead of using sugar.
|It is a wonderful sugar replacement in smoothies or baked goods. Just remember they still have a high calorie content
|I do not like stevia in my coffee, so xylitol is a great alternative with an almost identical sugar taste. Use sparingly as too much can cause diarrhea and it still has around 40% of calories of sugar
|Honey and Maple syrup
|Though on the list of sugar substitutes, if you use sparingly only raw and organic high end honey and maple syrup, it may be beneficial
Top 10 tips to avoid sugar cravings
- Have healthy snacks between meals to keep your blood sugar up and your cravings down
- It is suggested to supplement with L-gluthamine before meals as it helps to supports the production of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that determine whether or not you have sugar cravings.
- Eat a balanced diet of complex carbohydrates, fiber, fat and protein to slow digestion and sending a “full” message to your brain
- Take a good probiotic to help a healthy gut which stops sending a food craving signal to the brain
- Balance your hormones through healthy eating. A holistic nutrition coach will be able to assist you with working out the best meal plan for you
- Sleep your way to thin. Ghrelin a hormone responsible for stimulating appetite thrives when you are sleep deprived
- Lower your stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone raises blood sugar and when it lowers you crave food. It also contributes to a bad digestion which sends hunger signals to the brain
- Eat wholefoods: Quality protein from meat, fish and eggs; healthy fat from nuts, seeds, avocados and butter; nutritious carbohydrates from vegetables and fruits—they all help regulate your blood sugar and lower cravings
- A multivitamin may help you to balance and nourish your nutrient depleted body. Speak to your medical practitioner before taking a supplement.
- Get yourself busy during times when you usually crave something sweet. A brisk walk is best but even playing a game, reading a book, eating a fresh fruit or calling a friend, may just trick your mind into forgetting about its cravings
What do you think is worse for your body? Sugar or Salt? Most of you may have this question. Don’t miss this great infographic HERE and solve the mystery about sugar and salt!
Overcoming sugar cravings is liberating, rewarding, and challenging. For some, it’s like overcoming a drug, alcohol or nicotine addiction. Ask for help. A holistic nutrition coach will not only help you in working out the best plan but also sticking to it.
By: Andrea Caprio
Holistic Nutrition and Wellness coach
Wellness Methods offers tailor-made Corporate Wellness programs, Health and Nutrition Coaching for busy Executives