Sugar? You are probably thinking so what! Yep that’s kind of what I thought also. It’s sugar. It can’t be that bad. But if I said HEROIN, that would probably turn your head a bit. Well they have the same addicting affects.
Studies show sugar is as addictive as Heroin. And the dirty fact is, the average American consumes 4 times the amount we are suppose to daily. That’s right 4 times the amount of what the World Health Organization guidelines suggest we should, resulting in the consumption of 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, consuming a total of 128 pounds a year (US Department of Agriculture).
Okay so now we know how much we consume, exactly what does it do to our bodies and why should we care??
Sugar affects the body on every level. Studies link sugar intake that is through the roof to Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Diease, and it feeds cells to certain cancers. It also increases the risk of Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, indigestion, acidic digestive tracts, adrenal fatigue, food allergies, kidney disease, high blood pressure, asthma, arthritis, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Fasting glucose levels also rise, increasing insulin resistance which cause post consumption of sugar levels to fall quickly causing anxiety, fatigue, hormone imbalance, mood swings, aggressive behavior, reduce immune system, poor sleep, stress, attention struggles, and hyperactivity, especially in children.
Sugar sends increasing pleasure-yielding opiates in the brain similar to morphine and heroin causing mood enhancing neurotransmitters such as serotonin and endorphins making us relaxed and energized. It sends strong signals that cannot be ignored resulting in stronger cravings. The ups and downs in sugar intake cause a fight or flight response flooding the brain with dopamine and the release in adrenaline. The brain’s primary fuel is glucose and an imbalance causes interference with satiety (signals that your brain use to tell your body when you are full). It also slows down fat burning enzymes and encourages fat storage.
Sugar interferes with the absorption of protein and mineral consumption. Minerals play a crucial role in digestion, maintaining PH balance, and nerve impulse transmission. When one is out of balance the others follow. If the body falls short it takes it from other places. Sugar causes the body to release calcium and magnesium- taking it from teeth and bones when there is a shortage. When the minerals are out of balance and not properly utilized they are excreted through urine often causing kidney or gallstones.
Excessive sugar requires the brain to create a biochemical dependency that is hard to ignore also causing artificial sweeteners to have no hope. It actually tricks our brain into wanting the sweet and hosting other side effects.
So what do we do??
Taking the sugar out of our diets is tricky. It is in “healthy” foods such as cereal, salad dressings, condiments, and yogurt- to just name a few. It has over 50 different names such as, fruit juice concentrate, maltodextrin, corn syrup and without knowing that who would know what food companies hide in there. To make a permanent change, you have to understand what’s really in your food and what to eat instead. And remember the withdrawals are real, so a sugar stoked reward can lead and drive compulsive eating.
Here’s a few suggestions from womentowomen.com on what to do and
8 ways to help you get past your sugar addiction…
1. Choose naturally sweet foods. Naturally sweet foods do have a high sugar content, but contain nutrients and fiber to help satisfy a sweet tooth. Choose fruits, berries and other naturally sweet whole foods to help accommodate this.
2. Read labels. 4 grams of sugar = 1 tsp. So if you are seeing how many grams of sugar is in your yogurt or healthy cereal, you can ask yourself if it is really worth it.
3. Don’t eat out of habit. Don’t eat sweet foods automatically, make them a treat. If you don’t have the desire, teach yourself to skip them. If you do have to have them, eat them slowly and savor every bite. Also combine them with healthy fats (nuts, avocado, cream, eggs, butter, etc) to help slow sugar absorption.
4. Examine your Emotions. Are you an emotional eater? Learn to recognize if you need to eat or just need a hug and someone to listen. If you are tired, stressed, frustrated, angry, or depressed, this could help lead to some of your sweet tooth, and recognizing it always helps.
5. Prep in advance. You know how you are tempted, and you can find a healthier version. ALWAYS have more than one option. Have it prepped, ready, and on hand, because after all- we can’t control everything else in life, but we can control this.
6. Add fermented foods to your diet. Fermented foods and drinks will use sugar as its food. They are nutritional powerhouses to help kick sugar cravings and have microflora to help minimize negative effects. It helps make foods you eat less damaging and help reduce cravings over time. Fermented foods contain probiotics which help balance the good bacteria in the body. Some probiotic foods are:
* Yogurt. Yogurt is one of the most familiar sources of probiotics — “good” bacteria that keep a healthy balance in your gut. …
* Sauerkraut Boosts Digestion. …
* Miso Soup. …
* Soft Cheeses. …
* Kefir: Probiotic-Filled Drink. …
* Sourdough Bread. …
* Milk With Probiotics. …
* Sour Pickles.
7. Eat food with all 6 flavors. Sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, and astringent. This brings the body back into balance. Listen to your body and monitor how you feel after you eat. Doing this helps bring your body back into balance. After you eat your energy should be consistent and stable, not crashing soon afterwards. Again use healthy fats to help you feel full and eat less, but don’t overdo it! Remember it helps reduce cravings by slowing sugar absorption, but you still don’t want to overdo fat even if it is healthy fat.
8. Eat a healthy balanced diet. Finding a nutrition plan is the key to maintaining balance. And there are tons to choose from. Research, find the one(s) that fit best with your lifestyle. If it is not compatible at a later point, keep researching and find another one. But most importantly- stay nutritionally healthy. Believe me, you won’t be sad that you did, and your body will thank you too!