Why is Sugar So BAD For Us?

I have been doing a sugar detox with my RESTART students. It has been nine months since my last detox which went off with out a hitch. This time around it feels like it is taking forever to get over with and it has only been a week. I am also on the Autoimmune protocol which eliminates the nightshade veggies and nuts and seeds so I don’t have my good old stash of nuts to fall back on. I was already pretty well sugar free except for a treat here and there and my fair share of fruits. 

Grapes are in season and boy are they ever good (and sugary!). I miss grapes. I miss lasagna. I was at my daughters high school sports banquet last night and they served lasagna. It smelled so good and seemed so comforting. 

Comfort food. I miss comfort food. I brought a salad. I had a salad for lunch and veggies and meat for breakfast. Plus a protein shake because I am f’ing hungry all the time even with eating a lot of fat every day. At least one avocado plus 1/4 to half a can of full fat coconut milk.  

Clearly I am not eating enough. That has been an issue for me for a few months. With my thyroid not being optimal right now, that leaves me with less energy to do some good prep work to ensure I don’t run out of good things to eat. I keep forgetting to take meat out of the freezer and end up eating a salad. It could be worse I tell myself. It always could be worse. 

Sugar is everywhere and it is in everything.

It takes some diligence to keep it out of your diet and off of your mind. The holidays are coming up and that means holiday parties and treats galore. It is a good time to be mindful of the affects sugar can have on our bodies. 

The problem I seem to have and maybe you too if you suffer from thyroid problems is that even carbohydrates are an issue for me. I was virtually sugar free except for fruits and starches like I mentioned before and those also cause your body to release insulin just like plain old sugar does. The refined sugars like candy or sweets cause a bigger release in insulin than do the complex carbs in veggies which cause a much slower release of insulin. 

What happens when insulin is released? It triggers tryptophan (an amino acid) which further leads to serotonin (an neurotransmitter) to be released. This here is your pain killer, stress reliever and booster of moods. Your body gets the signal that life is great, for a short while. 

Don’t forget about all the positive reinforcement you get from sweets all throughout your life. Celebrations like birthdays or holidays. Don’t forget about all those incentives we received as kids for being good. I was just witness to it in the coffee shop I am working from today. I overheard a mom say to her toddler, “If you eat some of your sandwich, I will get you some candy.”

So you get that high from your sugar or your candy and that lasts for maybe a half an hour.  Your high is now a low making you feel really tired, maybe cranky and possibly blue (maybe green too if you ate too much candy). Your body tells you to fuel it again. Give it more. Feed the demon. This cycle is on repeat for, well, forever if you let it or until you have a system breakdown.  There are long term effects of eating lots of refined carbs and sugar over your life. 

You get nothing nutritionally from it. No vitamins, minerals or macronutrients. Nothing. It does, however, negatively affect your cells and how well they function.  Our kids are consuming more than ten times the amount of sugar they did in 1915 much of which is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  HFCS is the largest source of our calorie intake in the United States. It is a by-product of the corn industry. It is extracted from the corn stalk, chemically changed and processed at a high heat. It is also cheap to produce which makes food industry profits all that much higher. 

What is so bad about high fructose corn syrup?

The fructose and glucose are unbound which means your body doesn’t have to break it down. It gets absorbed in your liver and is converted to fat. The fructose in your HFCS drink, candy or sweet treat messes with your hormones ghrelin and leptin. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells your body you are hungry and leptin is the hormone that tells you that you are full. The suppression of ghrelin leads to miscommunication with leptin so you can keep eating the stuff which can lead you down the road of insulin resistance. 

Insulin resistance is when your cells are closing their doors to the glucose being delivered to them by insulin. This causes your pancreas to release even more insulin to get the glucose to your cells. It is a vicious cycle. Once your pancreas wears out (because it can and it will) you will then have diabetes. 

What are you supposed to do to break the sugar habit/addiction?

I have been struggling with this for years. What has kept me accountable this time around is doing a detox such as the RESTART detox in a group. I don’t want to let them down. That right there is more powerful for me than anything else. 

In this program you are avoiding all sweeteners for three weeks. High fructose corn syrup, white sugar, sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners. By the end we are talking about how to enjoy a treat here and there without the sugar taking over our life again. 

 

Moderation. That is the goal. 

 

Below is a list of sweeteners I would recommend in moderation

  • Honey- raw and organic is full of vitamins, minerals and enzymes beneficial to health. Insulin isn’t released as quickly compared to table sugar. 
  • Maple syrup- this is basically boiled tree sap. 
  • Molasses- a by-product of the sugar industry. It is where all the vitamins and minerals that were in what is now white sugar remain. 
  • Coconut sugar- again, boiled liquids from the coconut. 
  • Date sugar- dried and ground dates

I don’t recommend you go hog wild with any of these sweeteners but if you want to make a treat for a special occasion, these are your better choices. These are less refined than others and are best choices in the world of sweeteners. Choosing the least refined options are best. 

You can find a RESTART class near you by going here

In Health, 

Stephanie