Sugar really is addicting! Some compare it to heroin (I wouldn’t know). Do we really know the full destruction of sugar? What I do know is that it really did destroy my health for most of my life. A lot of you know some of this story. I have always struggled with having a high metabolism (which is slowing down now) and low blood sugar. The combination of low blood sugar and high metabolism caused me to occasionally pass out in public…not fun. I had other health issues that I didn’t know about, so basically I felt horrible all the time.
What do we do when we feel horrible all the time? We find something that we think makes us feel better. I turned to what was easily accessible…sugar! I was a health nut..literally obsessed..so I didn’t drink pop or anything like that, but started off on grape juice…constantly. Over the years, that led to pepsi and sweet tea. I would get my sugar high, do what I needed to do, then crash and suffer the consequences (and because of my issues, I crashed super hard, throwing up, etc). I NEVER felt good.
Then, only a few years ago I went to a naturopathic doctor, started eating real food, and using essential oils. Wow, did my health turn around. I still have months that are better than others. But just after weeks of changing my eating habits I felt better than I had since before I was a teenager! My sugar addiction did a lot more than put me on an energy roller coaster. Check out what scientists are finding about sugar.
The fact is that we all need glucose to survive. Our bodies break foods down into proteins and sugars (as well as fat, minerals, vitamins, etc). The problem comes when we don’t eat to live, but live to eat. Instead of getting normal amounts through the breakdown of broccoli and potatoes, we are eating cookies and candy. This is a HUGE difference to our bodies.
I tell my kids that their body is like a sports car. If they put mud and grime in the engine, they’re not going to win the race. They may not even be able to move! But when they give their engine exactly what it needs, they’ll zoom.
Once I started researching for this post I was blown away. There is so much research that has been done on the damaging effects of sugar!
Some Scary Key Health Points:
- Scientists have found that our bodies adjust to how much sugar we eat. The more we eat, the bigger capacity we have to absorb it. Thus, the greater the damage. We can get used to eating sugar so much that we think it’s not effecting us. I’ve been off simple sugars completely for months. When I tried a bite of a cookie I didn’t want to eat it. It tasted way too sweet to me! That tells me that my body can adjust back off of it too. What a relief. But it will take only one or two cookies for the addiction to begin again.
- Sugar REALLY effects your brain: High sugar levels slow the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) (1). This means you cannot make new memories; thus not able to learn or remember much. Low levels of BDNF seem to be linked to depression and dementia as well (2). (You may want to read those sentences again, because that’s huge!!)
- Fructose (high levels of simple sugars) turn off your “Full” switch. Instead of feeling full naturally, simple sugar intake causes your body to think it still needs to eat. Which makes sense; your body isn’t getting the nutrition it needs. Over-eating and obesity have been linked to high sugar intake. And when I say high, I mean that even those who think they have a low sugar intake are still taking in a lot more than our ancestors ever did (See Below)
- Liver Damage. The entire burden of metabolizing simple sugars lies on our liver (3) and is believed to lead to Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. How can our liver deal with all the sugar, plus everything else we throw at it in forms of toxic chemicals and preservatives?
- Cellular die-off and uric acid production. Sugar causes cells to become “starved’ where they die off or become swollen and damaged. This will lead to high blood pressure (hypertension), which, as you know, leads to all kinds of deadly health issues.
- Immune System Slowed. Vitamin C and glucose enter a cell at the same point. If there is an over load of glucose, then your cells will be depleted of Vitamin C. White blood cells require 50% more vitamin C than red blood cells. Since white blood cells help fight off disease and bacteria, then they will not function as well if they are starved of Vitamin C.
- Vitamin and Mineral Stores are Depleted. When you fill up on sweets instead of healthy food, your body has to pull from reserves to give your body what it really needs. When your minerals and vitamins are depleted, then a lot of your internal health processes slow or stop, including metabolizing cholesterol.
Rate of Sugar Intake:
- In 1700, the average person consumed about 4 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1800, the average person consumed about 18 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 1900, individual consumption had risen to 90 pounds of sugar per year.
- In 2009, more than 50 percent of all Americans consume one-half pound of sugar PER DAY—translating to a whopping 180 pounds of sugar per year!
This really is a Great Video if you want to go into depth on the sugar epidemic in America and the consequences on health.
A Real Food diet really is the only way to go. I started in baby steps that may be helpful to you:
- Eat out Less. Make a specific plan to back off eating out. If that means backing it to 3 times a week, then 2, then 1. Then do it. Maybe you need to commit to making a meal plan so that you don’t do the spontaneous thing, but eat more at home. Here’s a link to some Free Printables)
- Start with one item and move from there. If you drink a lot of soft drinks, then work on that one thing for a while. I think cold turkey really is the only way to go there. Don’t bring it in the house. Have something else in mind to drink when you feel the urge. I switched to carbonated water and it helped tremendously. I added a little fruit juice when I was just adjusting.
- Buy Foods with less ingredients. The less processed, the less ingredients will be on the list. Read those labels!!
- Educate yourself, your spouse, and your children on what sugar does to the body so that you have motivation to make changes. If you and your spouse are not both on the same page it will be a whole lot more difficult!
- Know your alternatives to refined simple sugars (More to come on this).
Can We Cheat?
Yes, I have posts on here with recipes of cakes and cupcakes. These are not regular events in our house. They come a few times a year. Does that mean I don’t let my kids eat anything sweet? I wish! But no, between grandparents, next door neighbors, and even people at the bank, they seem to get it from everywhere (from me too, I get one bite and start craving it)!
It is a constant battle in our society. Every time I go into Dunkin Donuts my kids get offered free donuts for Pete’s sake. I don’t want to forbid my kids from all sweets, because I have seen too many kids grow up and rebel against things like that. Instead, our family tries to eat only homemade sweets. I constantly talk to my kids about this and why. When I make cookies, I cut down the sugar by 1/3 or almost half. My recipes on here will have an asterisks about this. We are used to this, but anyone who’s on the regular sugar intake would think they are as sweet as a piece of bread! LOL! Just kidding, it’s not that bad.
Anyway, it’s a struggle that we have to constantly evaluate. We can be doing great, when all of a sudden I realize that we are eating a ton more sugar than usual!
Like I said, I will post a great list of sugar substitutes in the next couple of days.
Keep up the good fight!
Let me know what you think. Does your family ever struggle with sugar intake?