The new paradigm hypothesizes that too much sugar does not just make us fat; it can also make us sick.
It’s no joke – sugar is quite literally making us sick! Research is finally becoming mainstream as we discover the devastating health effects caused by this so called sweet stuff. Sugar, in all its forms, affects the body in a powerful way and we are consuming more of it now than ever before.
The world’s consumption of sugar or processed carbohydrate that converts to sugar has grown to enormous proportions in the last century. It is estimated that the average Western person consumes about 152 pounds of this highly processed substance every year, and that’s not including children who inevitably eat a higher dose. For the most part, this sugar comes from high-fructose corn syrup (the worst of all the culprits), found in most packaged and pre-made foods. It’s a scary truth, and one that deserves our complete attention and commitment to leading a healthier life.
In recent decades, we have been taught to fear fat. Fat-free this, low-calorie that, these products are all chock full of you guessed it, sugar. Research is finally discovering the main contender in health issues ranging from depression to obesity, heart disease and of course, diabetes: SUGAR.
This highly addictive substance has been said to be eight times as addictive as crack cocaine. Yup, you heard us right. Sugar addiction is real and scary. Driven by hormones and neurotransmitters that fuel sugar cravings, it may explain why so many of us are both overweight and sick.
The sugar problem is not only massive but also complex, in its full impact on the human body. The over consumption of processed sugar is causing a wide spectrum of disease and illness among all societies, ages and genders.
Sugar comes in a variety of forms, but the main concern here is refined sugar. That means the high-fructose corn syrup, regular white table sugar made up of glucose and fructose. All of these have been stripped of any nutritional value whatsoever. And what’s frightening is that it’s found in predominantly all packaged foods, sauces, drinks and even things you may have once thought of as ‘healthy’ (breakfast granola anyone?).
Filled with empty calories, sugar in fact is robbing us of nutrients and creating a disease-loving environment in our bodies. The effects are wide ranging and without going into an exhaustive marathon list, we’ve compiled some of the top line issues for understanding the sugar epidemic.
- Sugar fuels inflammation
Sugar has direct inflammatory effects on the body, mostly because our bodies weren’t designed to consume the quantities we see in today’s diets. Inflammation is now found to be a major driver of chronic disease, from cancer to mental illness, and it is fuelled by sugar, stress, and environmental toxins.
- Sugar disrupts hormones
Sugar consumption elevates insulin too high, too quick and only momentarily. This creates a quick high and just as fast crash. Also known as the ‘fight or flight response’, our adrenals release cortisol and adrenalin to attempt to replenish sugar levels – leading to hormonal imbalance. Hormone imbalance is connected to a variety of health problems often those associated with our busy, overworked modern lifestyle such as hypothyroidism and polycystic ovarian syndrome.
- Sugar depletes vitamin and mineral stores
Fructose severely depletes our vitamin and mineral stores. Our bodies of course need a wide variety of vitamins and minerals in order to function optimally, and at all. As we drain our nourishment, our bodies become more compromised and an easy target for increased infection, depression, poor gut health and a generally lowered immunity.
- Sugar exacerbates mood disorders
Sugar is linked not only to physical health ailments but mental ones as well – depression, anxiety, and Alzheimer’s, to name a few. It may seem like a good mood booster temporarily, but it will actually have the opposite affect shortly after. When you consume processed sugar, your blood sugar levels shoot up and then drop drastically, wreaking havoc on both your mood and metabolism.
- Sugar is making us fat
Sugar is in fact making us fat. Filled with calories but no fibre, we can consume large amounts and still be hungry. Highly addictive, it keeps us coming back for more. Excess fructose actually causes visceral fat cells to mature – setting the stage for increased belly fat and a future risk for heart disease and diabetes.
WHAT TO DO
We know, it’s a lot of information to digest! The reality of sugar can leave us feeling hopeless and unsure of what to eat and how to navigate a world filled with sugar. But not to fret, being informed is the first step in noticing your consumption and cutting back on your sugar intake. An important note is that sugar is hidden everywhere (read more HERE). Packaged foods, even savoury ones, are loaded with sugar. Our suggestion? Focus on real, whole foods and get back to basics. Start with simple, easy changes such as including more fruits and veggies in your diet and cutting back on packaged foods. Take note of the ingredients lists and become a more informed consumer!
If you’re interested in diving a bit deeper into your health, we recommend checking out the I Quit Sugar program. The website, books and online community are a great resource for anyone looking for further information and action plans for living a sugar-free life.
Kimberly Snyder “The difference in how fructose and glucose affect your body”
Mind Body Green “Why sugar is wrecking your health and How to Quit”
Huffington Post “Dangers of Sugar”
Wellness Mama “Harmful effects of Sugar”
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