Cookies. Gummy worms. Bread. Donuts. Brownies. Snickers. Cereal. Cupcakes. Bars. Ketchup. What do they all have in common…sugar. Sugar is the culprit of a lot of todays health issues. And not just diabetes or heart disease. I am talking depression, brain fog and hormone disruptions as well. I know this all tastes, good, but it is not good for our bodies. I wanted to share with you what exactly are the harmful effects of sugar on the body and the brain.
When I say sugar, I don’t mean naturally occurring sugar like in fruits, nuts, or vegetables. I mean added sugar, granulated sugar, FAKE sugar. If you look at the package of cereal, and the second ingredient is sugar, or high fructose corn syrup..that is the stuff I am talking about here.
Sugar is found is almost all packaged foods these days. Your favorite chips, soda, ice cream all has added sugar in it, and more probably more than we would like to know. I think sugar is addictive and toxic. Have you ever taken a bite of chocolate and just immediately wanted more? Or you sit down with a bag of chips and before you know it the entire bag is gone? Sugar is so prevalent in our lives now, we almost depend on it to get us through the day…like that soda or that tablespoon in your coffee. The average human eats 32 teaspoons of sugar a day. PER DAY. That is insane. Not to mention that is adults. Think about children who are consuming it even more regularly. The benefit of sugar…taste? That is it. Sugar tastes good, or makes products taste good. Why do you think you love those “protein bars” so much? Because they TASTE good. And by adding sugar to them, they taste good even after they sit on a shelf for 3 weeks. Think about that. WHY are we putting something in our bodies that has a shelf life of longer than the average work day?
But what is the process of sugar within the body? Well, lets start out by saying sugar does not include any:
Which means…it has ZERO nutritional value and should not even be considered in our diet. “Refined sugar” (which is the chemical form that is found in our foods) is striped of all of its nutritional value (64 food nutrients to be exact), because that is what refined means “with impurities or unwanted elements having been removed by processing.” But these “unwanted” elements are actually all the GOOD and NUTRITIOUS aspects of the carbohydrate.
So, if we are striping the carbohydrate of all its nutrition then we are taking vital nutrients from healthy cells in the body to metabolism food. These nutrients tend to be calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. If we are pulling these vitamins from other parts of the body, we are going to end up depleting our bodies of these vitamins. And if we are depleting the body of these vitamins, then our bones and teeth suffer (which can cause osteoporosis or cavities).
And if we continue the pathway…depleting the body of these vital minerals is going to cause the body to produce to much acid (because we do not have enough nutrients to neutralize the body). If we produce too much acid (because we do not have neutralizing compounds left) then we cannot rid our bodies of toxins/poisons. Which in turn, causes waste to enter our brain and nervous system, and speeds up cellular death. If we speed up cellular death, we cause a backup in our bloodstream which causes the blood thicken can then we have a whole new issue on our hand.
Moral of the story…sugar is toxic and can cause death if eaten in large quantities (like most Americans do).
Take a look at the graphic below to see just how much sugar or high fructose corn syrup is in some of your favorite foods…
Sugar effects the body in many ways. It starts with the second you put it in your mouth. “Consumption of processed foods (which are laced with sugar) cost the American public more than $54 billion in dental bills each year, so the dental industry reaps huge profits from the programmed addiction of the public to sugar products,” says Macrobiotics. Not only that, but once it is absorbed into your system it begins to cause even more harm throughout the body. This includes:
• It damages your liver: sugar can cause the same damage to the liver as alcohol does. It is the only organ that can shuttle the waste from your system.
• Tricks you into gaining weight: Fructose fools your metabolism by turning off your body’s appetite-control system. It fails to stimulate insulin, which in turn fails to suppress ghrelin, or “the hunger hormone,” which then fails to stimulate leptin or “the satiety hormone.” This causes you to eat more and develop insulin resistance,” says Dr. Mercola.
• Causes metabolic dysfunction: your metabolism doesn’t work properly because the hormone responses have been turned off, which then causes all kinds of health concerns like high cholesterol and blood sugar. Not only that but sugar can cause a lot of inflammation and stress within the body, leading to high levels of cortisol causing weight gain as well. It is a recipe for disaster.
• Mimics addiction: It has been proven that sugar can be extremely addictive and can show a lot of the same symptoms as drug addictions. This is because it hits your taste buds, sends a response the the cerebral cortex of the brain that says “that felt good” and then we crave it. We want more because our brains want to feel that and say “mm, yes, do that again,” It is the same pathway that is triggered by social interactions, sexual behavior and drug use.
This doesn’t take into account the long term effects of sugar, it can be as extreme as the long term effects of cocaine. In fact, refined (or pure) sugar is stronger than cocaine. The more you consume it, the more addicted you get to it because of the chemical properties. Your body begins to depend on it, and then it craves it all the time…sounds just like a drug, hey?
Like any other poison, there are long term effects of sugar consumption. These include:
• Chronic inflammation
• Destroys teeth
• Rosacea and acne
• Liver disease
• Gull stones
• Heart disease
• Kidney disease
Well, I think that hits every single organ or pathway in the body. Yup, sugar is that toxic that it can wreak havoc on EVERYTHING and take over.
Everyone wants to know how much is TOO much sugar…well, too much added sugar is over 20g per day. Again, this does not include natural sugars coming from fruits, vegetables or other sources. Here are some signs and symptoms of TOO much sugar consumption:
· Tired/Lack of energy
· Sugar cravings frequently
· Frequently sick or “under the weather”
· Feelings of anxiety or depression
· Trouble concentrating
· Skin problems (acne, dark circles, puffiness)
· Hormone imbalances (adrenal fatigue, high cortisol)
· Digestion issues (bloating, constipation/diarrhea, pain, inflammation)
· Blurred/fuzzy vision
· Yeast infections
· Frequent Headaches
Now, this does not mean if you have one of these that it is due to sugar consumption. These are just some things that can add up and make you really think about what lifestyle change needs to be made.
For me, sugar cravings stick around for 3-5 days. Therefore, if I have a sweet treat one day, I crave it for a few days before that finally subsides. So, it takes time. Removing sugar from your diet for 3-4 days after will greatly diminish the cravings for more. But, I am not someone who regularly eats sugar, so it is not difficult for me to cut it out. If you are like me and don’t consume sugar on a regular basis., give yourself 7 days and you will have kicked those pesky cravings to the curb!
Most of America crutches on sugar several times a day, and I know it can be incredibly hard to remove it from your diet. But I want you to try. If you are serious about getting your health on track and removing sugar, here are some ways you can slowly decrease your intake and be (refined) sugar free in no time!
• Eliminate sugary beverages (juices, cocktails, coffee, smoothies etc)
• Eliminate junk food (candy, ice cream, popcorn, chips, pretzels…anything sugar in the ingredients)
• Reduce empty carbohydrates (white breads, pasta, bagels, crackers)
• Reduce hidden sugars (sauces, dressings, protein bars, protein powders)
By slowly eliminating things you are setting yourself for long term success! You DO NOT have to cut everything out overnight, because that will likely cause you to give up and binge. Just take a few things out at a time and see how your body reacts! You will become ADDICTED to what it feels like to truly be healthy and happy!
Now, we all have our downfalls. And I am all about that sustainable lifestyle that makes you happy. So yes, enjoy the goodies from time to time, but don’t camp out there. Enjoy the cookie, the popsicle, the crackers and cheese…but then move on. And remember, natural sugar like fruits, organic/whole syrups like maple and agave (in moderation), vegetables are totally fine. Just make sure you are reading your labels because sugar can sneak into products we would never guess!
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