Ahhhh, sugar… that seductive substance we crave. Unless you have been living in a cave, it is no secret that sugar is addicting and a major obstacle for people trying to lose weight. But sugar itself causes a lot more damage to the body than just inhibiting weight loss. It actually breaks down your body.
Let’s look at a few facts you may not have known about this sweet stuff.
Sugar suppresses the immune system.
One of sugar’s major drawbacks is that it raises insulin levels, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, which depresses the immune system. This is not something you want if your plan is to be healthy. We also know that glucose (sugar) and vitamin C have similar chemical structures. This is important because your white blood cells need vitamin C to help keep your immunity strong. So what happens when your sugar levels go up? Sugar and vitamin C compete with one another upon entering the cells. If there is a lot of sugar around, there is much less vitamin C allowed into the cells. It doesn’t take more than a teaspoon of sugar in your blood stream to slow your immune system to a crawl. Have kids? Think about when they get sick. The “heavy” sugar season starts at Halloween and goes right through New Year’s. No wonder kids get colds and flu in the winter and spring!
The immune system is your army of protection against disease and sugar is the number one killer of its soldiers. In the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased 26 pounds per person, bringing the average person’s yearly consumption to 135 lbs per year!! Prior to the turn of this century, the average consumption was only 5 lbs per person per year!
Sugar causes inflammation and increases the risk of disease.
A rush of sugar (simple carbohydrate) into the bloodstream upsets the body’s blood-sugar balance, triggering the release of insulin, which the body uses to keep blood-sugar at a constant and safe level. Insulin also promotes the storage of fat, so when you eat sweets high in sugar, you’re making way for rapid weight gain and elevated triglycerides, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
The health dangers involved when ingesting simple sugar on a regular basis are well known. The inflammatory property of simple sugars has been observed to aggravate asthma, create mood swings, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, arthritis and much more.
Most people think sugar is simply what goes in our coffee, on a morning bowl of cereal or a candy bar. The truth is that morning cereal, the milk you put on it, and the juice you drink are carbohydrates that your body breaks down into sugar too. In fact everything you eat except for fat and protein is broken down to sugar by your body.
So what steps can you take, to reduce your sugar load? Just start with the basics. Consistent small daily steps will bring you back to the road of health you are deserving of.
So start by eliminating any refined sugar you add to your food. Then begin cutting back on all those starchy carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, rice and potatoes, and replace them with a variety of vegetables. Spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles are great replacements for pasta, and mashed cauliflower will take the place of those mashed white potatoes. Keep fruit and cut up vegetables in your fridge for easy snacking.
If you still need your “sweet stuff”, steer clear of white refined sugar. Even though honey and maple syrup are sugars that do raise your insulin, they are natural, but just use sparingly. Coconut sugar may be another one to try. It is lower on the glycemic index, but again, use in moderation only.
If you are looking for healthy sugar substitutes try some Stevia. Stevia is sweeter than sugar, so just a bit is all you will need. Erythritol, Swerve sweetener, Xylitol, and Chickory root (Just Like Sugar brand) are also natural sugar alternatives that do not cause blood sugar spikes. Why not experiment with a few and see what you like?
Remember, you are important, and a healthy lifestyle is simply waiting for you to step forward and claim it!