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The Story about Sugar...

Anyone addicted to “DRUGS” are frowned upon in our society. Common misconceptions are weak willed, mentally disturbed, trouble makers etc. Just to be clear, a drug is an addictive substance that alters your own brain chemistry.

Sugar is the most common and used drug in our population.

According to Stats Canada “The sugar that Canadians consume accounts for 21% of their daily calories. While 31% of this sugar comes from vegetables and fruit, a higher percentage―35%―comes from "other" foods. Beverages are among the top sources of sugar.” (Click here for the full article)

The body treats ALL sugar the same way. There is no difference if sugar is from a fruit or a candy bar. What isdifferent is just the mineral and nutrient value of a fruit vs a candy bar. You may eat lots of fruit in a day thinking you are being healthy, but remember there is STILL a high amount sugar in fruit! The types of sugar have little consequence: sucrose (table sugar) breaks down into glucose and fructose. Fructose is also found in fruit.

Sugar causes:

  • Hormonal Changes: specifically insulin. Insulin is responsible for allowing sugar to get INTO the cells; therefore, bringing sugar out of the blood stream. When ingesting excessive amounts of sugar, insulin has a tough job trying to regulate blood sugar levels. Cells stop listening to the high levels of insulin in the body. Sort of like when your partner keeps telling you to take out the trash, eventually it becomes background noise. Those with type II diabetes have this problem. Cells, meanwhile will starve by not getting the sugar needed for energy production. The excess sugar is excreted out of the body in the urine, deposited all over the body (eyes, brain, joints), and causes massive inflammation, fatigue and dizziness. The starving cells send signals to your brain to eat more sugar and fat.

  • Addiction: Eating sugar gives your brain a huge surge of an “addictive” chemical called dopamine (our pleasure and reward hormone), which explains why you’re more likely to crave a candy bar at 3 p.m. than an apple or a carrot. But like any addictive drug, your brain starts to need more and more sugar to get that same feeling of pleasure. Healthy foods have less sugar and don’t release as much dopamine. This is that unsatisfied feeling you get after a meal of something sweet. Sugar also gives us a little rush, as we get a surge of energy, or a “sugar high”… until we crash within an hour and crave more sugar.

  • Inflammation: Sugar affects the body’s pH and makes the body more acidic which causes KI stones, chronic inflammation and oxidative stress. Oxidative stress means that there are not enough antioxidants to counteract body chemical reactions, leading to chronic inflammation. It also prevents your immune system cells from working optimally.

  • Ages skin: Sugar attaches to proteins in your bloodstream and creates harmful molecules called “AGEs,” or advanced glycation end products. These molecules do exactly what they sound like: age your skin. They have been shown to damage collagen and elastin in your skin -- protein fibers that keep your skin firm and youthful.

  • Weight gain: sugar is converted into fat and also affects the hormone leptin (the hormone that tells us to stop eating), and we eat more.

I am very adamant on restricting or severely minimizing as much sugar as possibleout of the diet with patients. This includes things like honey, fruit, pop, alcohol and candy. Unfortunately like any drug there is a withdrawal effect. I’ve found for about 4-7 days you will have intense cravings, mood fluctuations, and sleep disturbances. After that something magical happens… you don’t crave sugar AT ALL! No dessert cravings, or 3 pm fixes.

It really depends on the type of person you are, however like most drugs an “all or none” approach is usually the best. My favorite hack is using stevia and raw cocoa powder and making a “hot chocolate” for cravings. That way you are getting magnesium and still have the sweet taste, but with no addictive qualities.

Other tips:

  • read labels (you will be surprised how much sugar is in ordinary foods!)

  • all carbs break down into sugar (beware of things like chips, or fruit juices, smoothies, refined grains)

  • eat real food !(most packaged foods are full of sugar weather deemed “healthy” or not. Real food has minimal sugar, and usually a lot of fiber that slows the absorption of sugar into the body)

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