Sugar Is The Enemy
We all know that sugar is bad for us yet it's one of the hardest things to give up because not only is it in so many foods, it's also very addicting and it tastes good! The diet/nutrition industry is saturated with so much conflicting info that it gets confusing to know how to manage our nutrition.
With diets like "Keto" and Paleo ( both extreme and unsustainable long term), people have become afraid to eat carbohydrates. It seems carbohydrates are the enemy and that's not true. If your goal is weight loss then sure, carbs do need to be reduced but complex carbohydrates in the form of natural whole grains are not unhealthy. Our brain and muscles need to glycogen from carbs to function at an optimal rate.
The white stuff...aka Sugar, on the other hand comes in many sneaky forms (high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, glucose, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, etc), is poison and has no nutritional value or purpose other than a feeling of instant gratification and deliciousness. This is why it's important to read labels before putting that so called healthy, even marketed as low fat marinades, dressings, soda, yogurt, cereal, granola bars etc...and the list goes on into your cart.
This love affair many have with sugar is toxic and the after effect of excess sugar can cause long lasting effects. Even if you don't have a weight issue, the damage done by sugar to your pancreas, liver, cardiovascular system, brain etc can be devastating and sometimes deadly. Below are some of the ways that sugar wreaks havoc on our bodies.
- Sugar is the “other” white poison. No wonder kids are begging for sugary snacks and drinks all the time: some experts say that sugar is as addictive as cocaine – except it’s legal. And widely available. People develop a tolerance for sugar much like they do addictive drugs – causing us to want more and more of it to get our “sugar fix.”
- Sugar makes us feel hungrier. Eating too much sugar confuses neural pathways and hinders the body’s ability to produce leptin, the hormone that tells our brains that we’re full. In other words, eating sugary foods makes us want to keep on eating them.
- We love sugar but sugar doesn’t love us. We’re all aware that eating too much sugar can contribute to weight gain. Combine that weight gain with high blood insulin levels over an extended time period, and that leads to insulin resistance and possibly diabetes, which in turn leads to an increased risk for heart disease.
- Sugar can cause “fatty liver.” Fructose, the sweet component in high-fructose corn syrup and table sugar, can tax our livers and cause us to store fat in our organs, including the liver. A liver with more than 5-10% fat is called a fatty liver. That condition could cause the liver to swell (cirrhosis) and may eventually lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
- Sugar can contribute to high blood pressure. This is ironic, since many of us crave a sugary treat when we’re feeling stressed, right? Too much dietary sugar increases blood insulin levels, which can harm blood vessels. Over time, high levels of blood insulin can cause arterial tension by impacting smooth muscle cell growth. This puts us at heightened risk for high blood pressure and in turn increases our risk for a heart attack or stroke.
- Sugar impacts cholesterol, too. This goes back to sugar’s impact on the liver. Experts believe that too much sugar stimulates the liver to produce an excessive amount of bad (LDL) cholesterol while simultaneously hindering our bodies from being able to process it effectively.
- Sugary treats zap energy levels. We’ve all experienced a sugar rush after eating sweet treats, but within an hour or so felt our energy levels crash, often causing us to crave more of the sweet stuff to pick ourselves back up again. To avoid that vicious cycle, try substituting a protein-rich snack with low or no added sugars – like maybe a handful of almonds.
The first step to avoiding some of these negative side effect is awareness (read labels) and to simply lower your sugar intake!
It is recommended that men eat no more than 150 added calories from sugar (about 9 teaspoons) per day, while women should limit themselves to 100 calories (about 6 teaspoons). To put things in perspective, here's the quantity of sugar in some popular food and drink.
16 oz Pop = 16 tsp
16 oz Grape Juice=18tsp
cereal bar= 10 tsp
1 cup yogurt= 12 tsp
1 slice of cake with frosting 16 tsp
It's unrealistic to think that most people will give up sugar entirely. It's everywhere and so much of what we do is centered around food. If we can build a healthy relationship around food and change our mindset to see it as fuel to our bodies rather than eating for pleasure so we can function day to day both physically and mentally at an optimal level, we would be a healthier, happier, more productive society. My advice to people to keep things simple is to eat the way Mother Nature Intended, eat whole foods and steer away as much as possible from prepacked boxed or canned foods and you'll be on your way to a healthier better life!