Sugar: The hidden threat
It seems that in the last few years, every health site and magazine is talking about the evils of sugar. Sugar is hidden in all sorts of foods including bread, pasta sauce, and yogurt. Add to that our love for things like cookies and ice cream and it’s no wonder our sugar consumption is higher than ever. Unfortunately, all this added sugar is doing a lot of damage to our health and it’s making people gain weight in record numbers.
The average American consumes about 160 POUNDS of refined sugar every year. Think about that for a minute. Gross, right? That’s a whole human being worth of sugar. Just two hundred years ago, we only used about 20 pounds of sugar per person per year.
We know all this sugar isn’t good for us. It’s rotting our teeth, giving us Type II Diabetes, and contributing to the obesity epidemic in the western world. Logically, we know we shouldn’t be having it. The tricky thing is that added sugar has found its way into all sorts of foods we consume on a daily basis. It isn’t just the sugary breakfast cereals or sweets that are the culprit. There’s sugar in our salad dressings, our frozen dinners, and pasta sauce to name a few. Ketchup is a huge offender.
And we have been programmed to want these sweets. We know logically that it would be better to eliminate the added sugar, but common sense is not always common practice. We believe they taste good, and we are in the HABIT of wanting them. Often we have emotional ties to certain sweet foods. It takes time and consistent effort to make a change.
The truth is, sugar is truly addictive. It will actually alter your brain chemistry and over time you start to crave more and more sugar. Here’s a scary fact: When scientists took MRI images of the brains of people consuming sugar and highly addictive drugs like cocaine, the same pleasure centres in the brain started lighting up. Pretty scary, right? But what does it actually mean to your brain and your overall health? Spoiler alert: it doesn’t bode well.
We all know that with too much sugar there will be weight gain. But with it, and particularly when this weight gain is brought on by consuming too much sugar, you increase your risk of developing Type II Diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and an increased risk of stroke. That’s bad enough, but then add to that the extra stress the added weight puts on your joints and tendons. When you think about how much harder it is to get enough oxygen pumping through your body, it’s no wonder you feel more run down as you put on weight.
4 Reasons To Eliminate Sugar From Your Diet
Have you ever thought about doing a sugar detox? Here are five reasons why you should consider cutting the sugar, and doing what you can to limit sugar as much as possible.
1. Eating or Drinking Sugar Spikes Your Insulin
As soon as your body starts to digest sugar, your insulin spikes. Insulin is the hormone that is in charge of keeping blood sugar levels from rising too high, and converting extra sugar into fat for storage. It’s a delicate process, and when your system has to manage more than it was designed to, it starts to negatively affect your health.
2. Consuming Sugar Makes You Gain Weight
Because of the insulin spike, and because sugar adds a lot of calories to food, it can make you gain weight. And you don’t have to be eating a diet of candy and cakes for that to happen.
In the late 1970’s, health authorities advised consumers to watch and lower their fat intake. The food industry responded by providing us with all sorts of low fat and fat free food options. But in order to o make these low fat foods palatable, they had to add a lot of sugar. Take a look at regular and low fat or fat free salad dressing. The lower fat options have a lot more carbs and in particular, sugar. You may not taste it, but it’s there. Since sugar is much more quickly digested than fat, you’re hungry sooner after consuming a low fat meal and you eat again. The end result is weight gain.
3. Consuming Sugar Increases Your Risk For Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
With all that increased sugar and weight gain comes a higher risk for diabetes and a condition called metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms and behaviors that put you at a much higher risk of developing heart disease and Type II diabetes. Thankfully both conditions are reversible and the first step toward better health is to cut out the sugar.
4. Sugar Doesn’t Have a Lot of Nutritional Value And It Makes You Hungrier
Last but not least, it’s important to remember that aside from a little boost of energy, sugar doesn’t provide a lot of nutritional value to your body. If you want something sweet, you’re much better off grabbing a piece of fruit than a cookie. At least with a piece of fruit you’re getting some vitamins and fiber with your sugar fix.
If you want or need to lose weight, the first thing you should cut out is sugar. It causes spikes in your blood sugar, that then make your body produce a large amount of insulin to pull the sugar out of your system (and convert it to body fat). The sad little side effect of that process is that your blood sugar goes on a roller coaster ride that will leave you hungry and craving more sugary treats.
In a world with so many things to do, kids to manage and pandemics to worry about—just kidding, thank god there’s only one of those right now—let’s find one thing to count on that will help you focus on yourself when things are tough.
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