By juic9378 | August 11, 2013
THE EXPERTS SPEAK
Most Americans are well versed in the problem of atherosclerosis, heart disease and cholesterol issues, but know little to nothing about the danger that consuming sugary foods present. According to Stephen Sinatra, MD, “there are far more significant and devastating causes of heart disease than high cholesterol.” Wow! Sinatra goes on to explain that over time, consuming too many sweets and refined carbs can clog your heart vessels, more than high cholesterol ever could.
According to Nicholas Perricone, MD, sugar and refined carbohydrates promote inflammation in the body. Inflammation can exacerbate acne, pack on pounds, cause wrinkles and place us at risk for diabetes.
Our bodies do not need sugar to function properly,according to the American Heart Association. While our brains need glucose, this can easily be gained from eating fruit and whole grains. Added sugars have no nutrition at all but many added calories.
A VERY SHORT PRIMER ON SUGAR AND INSULIN
To be clear, I often just use the word “sugar”, but when I say sugar I am referring to added sugar in the form of white sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup. I also include in this group stripped down, nutrient poor foods such as white bread, white pasta and white rice.
When we eat sugar and carbohydrates, they are converted in the body to glucose. When glucose enters your bloodstream, it is a sign for your pancreas to produce insulin. Some glucose is used immediately. Insulin then converts excess glucose into glycogen for storage in the liver and muscles. Excess sugar is turned into two types of fat: cholesterol and triglycerides. Hence the damage to the heart and vessels, explains Sinatra.
200 years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar per year. That is because sugar was expensive and only the wealthy could afford it. The average person ate a sugary dessert maybe once per month. Today, the average American consumes over 100 pounds of sugar per year. Some estimates have our intake at 156 pounds per year!
SUGAR WANTS SUGAR
Another problem with eating sugar and refined, poor quality carbohydrates is the vicious cycle of desire it creates. You never feel truly satisfied. This is because sugar and stripped down foods provide calories, but little to no nutrients. These types of foods almost always lack fiber, which is necessary to feel satisfied. After eating a sweet treat, and after insulin has done its necessary job, your blood sugar levels drop down. This triggers hunger pangs. You then typically reach for another high sugar or high carbohydrate snack. This harmful, health-damaging and weight-gaining cycle can be broken by eating appropriate amounts of slow release complex carbohydrates and some fat and protein with each meal. Fat is absolutely essential to guard against hunger and cravings, so be sure to add small amounts of high quality fat such to your grains. Although beware with high quality carbohydrates as well. Just because whole grains are vastly better for you doesn’t mean that you can eat mountains of quinoa. Even too hefty an amount of complex carbohydrates can provoke a similar insulin response. With regards to grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, etc, a half cup at a meal is plenty. Learn how to “stretch” your grains by adding small chopped vegetables and greens. It really does seem like you are having more when you include healthy additions to your grain quota for the meal. This low blood sugar condition, brought on by poor food choices, not only keeps you in a state of constant hunger, but it can also bring on the blues and anxiety, according to Connie Bennett, a certified holistic health counselor and author of the book “Sugar Shock!”. Bennett, who is now off sugar, found that sugar was” mood-damaging, personality bending and confusion- creating” for her.
ARE YOU AN ADDICT?
It’s a very strong word, I know. But, some researchers believe that sugar is much like a drug and that people can become addicted to it. Endocrinologist and pediatric researcher at University of California, Robert Lustig, MD, is one of those that believe it is addictive for some. If you are unable to go a day without some sweet treat or refined carbohydrate (such as a bagel or white bread) without intense cravings, you might be addicted. If this is you, consider working with a health coach. A health coach can help you deconstruct your cravings and crowd out unhealthy items. A great health coach listens, as much as they teach and gently holds you accountable to making simple and sustainable changes that can affect your health for the rest of your life.
GYMNEMA AND OTHER SUGGESTIONS TO HELP REDUCE THE DESIRE FOR SWEETS AND EMPTY CARBS:
1. Eat plenty of non-starchy vegetables
2.Eat moderate amounts of fruit (fructose is sugar, eat it in moderation)
3.Eat legumes and whole grains that are rich in fiber to help regulate blood sugar
4.Eat sweet vegetables to help reduce sweet cravings: onions, carrots, cabbage, parsnip, sweet potato, squash, etc.)
5.Drink water, not soda or sweetened drinks. Sweetened drinks are the #1 source of excess calories and sugar in the American experience.
6.Engage in some form of daily physical exercise. Do what you like!
7.Eat fermented and cultured foods to help support gut health. Your overall health and the health of your gut are closely linked.
8. Add gymnema to your regimen. Gymnema, a native Indian herb means “sugar destroyer” in the Hindi language. It helps to reduce desire for sweets. It does not work in a vacuum, diet and lifestyle still play a huge role in getting off sugar, but I have found gymnema to be very helpful in many cases.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or would like to discuss how I can help you get off sugar and get healthier.