Chances are you already know that eating too much sugar isn’t good for you. Yet you’re probably still overdoing it. Sugar is sneaky! Not only is it found in the obvious foods like baked goods and chocolates, but its in many breads, drinks, spaghetti sauces, salad dressings and even supposedly “healthy” snacks like granola, energy bars and yogurt.
To complicate it further, added sugar can be hard to spot on nutrition labels since they can be listed under a number of names, such as:
Brown rice syrup
High-fructose corn syrup
Evaporated cane juice
Honey, brown sugar, and cane juice may sound healthy. But sugar is sugar. Whether it comes from bees or sugar cane, it can cause your blood sugar to rise.
Most of us know excessive sugar can lead to weight gain, energy surges and crashes. But there are numerous other detrimental effects of consuming excessive sugar.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Eating sugar gives your brain a huge surge of the feel-good chemical dopamine. Your brain starts to need more and more sugar to get that same feeling setting up cravings. Break the cycle by reducing your sugar intake. Whole foods like fruits and veggies don’t cause the brain to release as much dopamine.
Sugar gives burst of energy raising blood sugar levels. As cells absorb sugar, many feel anxious, jittery or a sugar crash.
Sugar creates oxidative stress in the body. Ever cut an apple open and leave it on the
counter only to have it turn brown? That is a great visual of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes an increase of inflammation. Inflammation is at the root of most diseases, joint, muscle pain and autoimmune diseases.
Inflammation makes you age faster. Excessive sugar attaches to proteins (AGE's) in the bloodstream. These proteins damage collagen and elastin in your skin, resulting in more wrinkles and saggy skin.
An abundance of sugar likely contains fructose. Fructose is processed in the liver and in large amounts can cause damage. When fructose is broken down, its transformed into fat. This can cause non-alcoholic fatty live disease (excess fat build-up in the liver) and non alcoholic steatopheatitis (scarring of the liver)
When eating, the pancreas pumps out insulin. If eating too much sugar and your body stops responding properly to insulin, your pancreas starts pumping out even more insulin. Eventually, your overworked pancreas breaks down and blood sugar levels rise, setting the stage for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
Bagels, chips, white rice and white flour or french fries are an issue?
These starchy foods are carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars. Other common sneaky sources:
ketchup, barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, reduced-fat salad dressings, baked beans and flavored coffees.
You don't have to give up sweetness. Just get it from other sources. Try fresh berries or fruit on oatmeal and yogurt instead of sugar.
If you make small, simple changes to your diet, it's easy to keep them up.
Start by eating more fruits and vegetables.
Drink extra water.
Check food labels, and pick those that don't have a lot of sugar.
Cut out a little bit of sugar each week. After a few weeks, you'll be surprised at how little you miss it.
Eating protein is an easy way to curb sugar cravings. High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full longer. Protein doesn't make your blood sugar spike the way refined carbs and sugars do. Pick proteins like lean chicken, eggs, nuts, or beans.
Fiber helps fight a sugar cravings. It keeps you full and gives you more energy. Choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Or some peanut butter on an apple for a protein/fiber combo.
Exercise helps reduce sugar cravings. You start to feel better and want healthier foods. Do what you like - walking, bike riding, swimming, dancing- whatever. Start out slow and work toward at least 150 minutes spread throughout the week.
What about artificial sweeteners?
Studies suggest artificial sweeteners may leave you craving more sugar. The problem is artificial sweeteners don't help you break your taste for sweets.
Simple sugar swaps
Dry Cereal – Oatmeal and berries
Flavored yogurt – plain yogurt with berries
Bottled spaghetti sauce – Make your own!
Processed salad dressing – oil and vinegar
Juice – tea or plain water
Energy bars – plain nuts
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