6 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD DITCH SUGAR FROM YOUR DIET NOW!
Most likely you have heard that eating too much sugar is bad for you or that it contributes to diabetes and makes you gain weight, but lately there has been a lot of buzz about how sugar can actually be toxic to our bodies! Are you confused and don’t know what you are supposed to believe? In truth, sugar itself is not the enemy, but it’s consuming too much sugar that is harmful. The problem is we consume way too much sugar and according to the USDA we eat about 152 pounds of the stuff a year! Sugar hides in a lot of foods you might not expect, like bread and salad dressing. Even so, the USDA, FDA and Institute of Medicine refuse to list a maximum recommended intake of added sugar per day, so the American Heart Association came to the rescue and wrote some guidelines for us:
Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day and men no more than 9 added teaspoons. The cut off for kids is even less, at 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day. To put that into perspective a 12 ounce can of cola has 12 teaspoons of added sugar! Whether we like it or not, sugar is in practically everything and as a result our total consumption is way up. It’s time to do something about it!
Here are six reasons why you need to quit the sugar now!
1. Sugar speeds up the aging process. Yes, you read it correctly! It makes us look old and wrinkled. When sugar in the blood is elevated it crosslinks proteins making them lose strength and elasticity (think collagen and elastin). This not only happens in our skin, it happens all throughout our bodies. If you think of a piece of toast browning that is what’s happening inside of us, also know as the Maillard reaction.
2. Too much sugar, not fat raises your LDL and triglycerides, causing damage to blood vessels. Sugar is the leading cause of insulin resistance, high triglycerides, lower HDL and produces more of the small and dense LDL particles, the ones that cause the most damage! The biggest source of sugar in our diets are sweetened drinks, including sodas, sports drinks, tea and coffee beverages. Watch out for that seasonal pumpkin coffee drink that comes out this time of year! A ‘tall’ pumpkin coffee made with 2% milk has 40 grams of added sugar, that’s about 10 teaspoons of sugar in one 12 oz cup!
3. Sugar tries to trick your brain into thinking you’re hungry! A hormone called leptin is stored in fat cells and after we eat, excess glucose is shuttled into and stored in our fat cells. Leptin is then released from the fat cells telling our brains brains we can stop eating. Too much leptin floating around all the time makes us resistant which means we can’t hear the signals and as a result we still feel hungry and want to keep eating.
4. High sugar intake is linked with Alzheimer's disease. High blood sugar can be an indicator of future cognitive decline and even predict, Alzheimer's to come-especially in women. Research suggests that women are more vulnerable to the effects of insulin resistance and high blood sugar then men are.
5.Sugar is addictive! Sugar stimulates the pleasure center of the brain-it’s not your imagination if you think you are addicted to it! People that have a tendency towards addiction can become addicted to foods containing a lot of sugar like junk food and soda.
6. Sugar causes inflammation! In fact, it is THE biggest cause of inflammation, a condition that is now known to be the underlying cause of many common diseases like obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Excess sugar is stored as belly fat, and belly fat releases pro-inflammatory chemicals called cytokines which cause inflammation.
If you find it hard stop craving sugar the best thing to do is quit cold turkey. It may be tough at first but you will thank yourself later. Don’t substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners either because they will just keep you craving the taste for sweet. After a few days it be be easier to pass on the sugar laden foods and drinks.
One thing that’s very important is to learn how to read labels and look for sources of hidden sugar. In July of 2018 it will me much easier to know how much added sugar you are eating because it has been mandated by the FDA that the nutrition facts label lists the amount of added sugars in foods and beverages.
Below is a list of foods you might be surprised that have added sugar:
There are over 56 different names for sugar! A few of the less common names are, treacle, golden syrup, diastatic malt and muscovado. You may not even realize you are buying products with added sugar in them if you are not familiar with all the names that sugar is disguised as so the best thing to do is learn them!
A few tips to help free yourself from craving sugar:
1. Look for the names of hidden sugar on food labels then get rid of the source if its in your cabinet!
2. Eat plenty of healthy fat, protein and fiber at each meal.
3. Drink at least 2 Liters of water per day.
4. Consider adding chromium picolinate and cinnamon to your diet. These help with insulin metabolism and help to keep your blood sugar balanced which helps reduce the cravings.
5. Do a pantry purge! Clean out your refrigerator and pantry of sweets and junk food. If it’s not there, you won’t eat it.
6. Finally, give yourself time. You will become more sensitive to the natural sweetness in foods without having to eat a lot of extra added sugar!