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You may think you don’t have a sugar problem, you may not even like sweets, but it’s highly likely that you probably ARE addicted to sugar; most people are to some degree! 

Cravings, binge eating, and feeling peckish or hungry soon after you eat are just a few signs of addiction. Read on to find out more about why sugar is bad for you and how to stop your sugar addiction. 

The typical North American diet contains food with high quantities of hidden refined sugars. Food companies use aliases like barley malt, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, fructose, and corn syrup to describe the sugar content. Food labels generally list these under “Total Carbohydrates.” According to Harvard Medical, sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks are the largest sources of added sugar in the average American’s diet. Other sneaky culprits are sauces such as ketchup, BBQ sauce, and even salad dressing. 

“I eat clean. I don’t eat processed foods. So, I’m in the clear.” 

Think again! Bread, pasta, potatoes, and even fruit are all considered sources of high sugar. 

How is bread, sugar?” 

Bread, other flour products, potatoes, white rice, etc., break down rapidly, turn into glucose, and enter the bloodstream causing a rapid spike in blood sugar and insulin levels. Whole wheat bread has the same effect as a chocolate bar (2 slices of whole wheat = 10 tsp. sugar, 1 Snickers bar = 8.5 tsp. sugar). These items may not taste sweet, but your body cannot distinguish between them and candy. 

**Whole wheat bread is definitely better than white, but only slightly. Whole wheat bread retains fiber, which is stripped from wheat when making white-bread. Unfortunately, there really isn’t much fiber in whole wheat bread to truly make a difference. 

“Sugar from fruit is natural, so I should be able to eat as much as I want, right?” 

Wrong. Fruits may have fiber (which delays glucose absorption) and many needed vitamins, but it still contains plenty of sugar (i.e., fructose). Unlike glucose which is sent to your muscles, brain, and other organs to be used as energy, fructose is only used by your liver. If your liver already has enough fructose it will convert the extra into fat and store it for later, causing weight gain. The key then is to be aware and not indulge excessively in fruit.

 

For Moderately Active Individuals-(An average of 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day):

Women ages 19-50: 2 cups Fruits + 2 1/2 cups Veggies = 4 1/2 cups TOTAL

Men ages 19-30: 2 cups Fruits + 3 1/2 cups Veggies = 5 1/2 cups TOTAL

Women ages 51+: 1 1/2 cups Fruits + 2 1/2 cups Veggies = 4 cups TOTAL

Men ages 31+: 2 cups Fruits + 3 cups Veggies = 5 cups TOTAL

 

According to CookingLight.com

 

Why Sugar Causes Weight Gain

Ever notice that you get cravings soon after you eat? And you usually go for a high-carb or sugary snack, am I right? Here’s why: 

 

It is a vicious cycle – Our body and brain get energy from sugar or fat. If we regularly feed our body with sugar, it’s easily accessible, and so the body utilizes sugar before going for fat. Because the body never needs to use the fat stored in our system, our ability to metabolize it progressively declines; think of it like a rusty gear. What this means is that even though the body has a perfectly good fat storage to munch on, it looks for sugar first. So our brain says, “Hello, we need more sugar!” causing us to reach for carbs and/or sweets. This is where the addiction sets in. This is why it is so darn difficult to reduce our carb consumption level and lose weight.

Additionally, insulin comes into play when blood sugar is spiked. Insulin is the primary hormone telling cells to hold onto fat; the more sugar, the more insulin, the more fat storage. 

 

There are also countless other reasons to reduce your sugar intake of which you may not even be aware: 

Low Energy

If you are a regular sugar eater, your body gets its energy from sugar, and when the sugar runs out, you crash. You’ll be amazed at how much more energy you will have after you detoxify your system from sugary foods. 

 

Aging Skin

Glycation is a naturally occurring process in your body. Glycation occurs when glucose in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful molecules called Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs). The more sugar you eat the more AGEs you develop. 

 

Collagen is the most prominent protein in your body and the most vulnerable to AGEs. Once damaged, the normally elastic-like fibers become inflexible, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. According to studies, this aging effect starts to be noticeable around age 30 and speeds up after that. AGEs also deactivate your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes leaving you more vulnerable to sun damage. 

Pain & Discomfort 

Sugar causes digestive issues like gas, bloating, and nausea. It has also been linked to inflammation issues like joint pain and arthritis. Just imagine that lowering your sugar consumption could mean preventing all of these nuisances! 

 

Mineral & Vitamin Deficiencies 

Sugar interferes with absorption of minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and Vitamin C. This can cause a number of different health issues like osteoporosis and a lowered immune system. 

 

Disease

  • Organizations such as the American Dietetic Association and the American Diabetic Association, agree that sugar is one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease in America.
  • It feeds cancer cells and has been connected with several types of cancer (breast, prostate, pancreas, lung, gallbladder, etc)
  • It causes Candida growth (yeast infections)
  • It has been linked to fatty liver disease and kidney stones
  • It can cause hormonal imbalances such as increased estrogen in men, worsened PMS symptoms, and decreased growth hormone.

 

On March 4th 2015 the World Health Organization released a new guideline suggesting we reduce our daily intake of free sugars to less than 10% of our total energy intake. A further reduction to below 5% or roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day would provide additional health benefits. Sugar Intake Guideline

 

We know that obesity is a huge problem in America today. Similar to other problems, obesity is also influenced by lack of available information. People are not aware of their daily sugar intake and how harmful it can be for them. This is why I write articles like this one. Awareness and moderation  tied in with regular exercise are key for a healthy lifestyle.

 

 

Tune in next week for our article on: How to Wean off Sugar

 

 

Resources: essentiallivingmaine.com, calorie.com, mindbodygreen, gnolls.org, webMD, leanitup.com 

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