Quitting sugar in it’s various forms can do wonders.
Knocking the sugar habit is not easy. But if you want to give it a try, here’s some stimulus and inspiration to help you succeed: it’ll have profound effects on your short- and long-term health.
Why is Sugar so Detrimental?
Excess sugar in the body attaches to proteins, lipids and DNA, forming advanced glycation end products that can impair protein function, damage cellular membranes and lead to genetic instability. Sugar also causes the pancreas to release the hormone insulin, which binds to receptors on the cell surface, allowing glucose to enter the cell and lowering blood sugar levels.
Many people consuming high-sugar diets become insulin-resistant, meaning cells in the body no longer respond to insulin. This prevents glucose from entering cells, and blood sugar levels remain high.
A vicious cycle starts, where the pancreas pumps out more insulin in a futile effort to reduce blood sugar levels while the cells starved of fuel needed for energy production send out signals for the body to eat more.
All of this results in you feeling tired and hungry. Insulin also signals to the body to store excess sugar as fat, so when insulin is present, the body will not break down stored body fat.
If You Can Throttle Added Sugar Back:
1. Your Immune System Will Stand Up and Fight
There is a fact that you may not know about your body’s immune system:
EATING SUGARS OF ANY KIND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO REDUCE YOUR BODY’S DEFENSES BY 75% OR MORE FOR FOUR TO SIX HOURS.
This isn’t a new finding. In the 70′s, Linus Pauling Ph.D. discovered that boosting vitamin C at the time of a cold helps white blood cells (phagocytes) in the body to combat the common cold. Dr. Pauling also found sugar caused a 75% drop in the ability of white blood cells to engulf bacteria. Simply put, elevated glucose restricts Vitamin C from entering white blood cells at a time when Vitamin C is in high demand.
Instead of being able to kill off the bacteria or virus, your body’s immune system’s ability to fight is decreased. It is less able to fight an infection, thus the infection spreads.
As you can see, eating sugars of any kind isn’t a super idea if you’re sick, and that includes the highly touted orange juice. It may contain added vitamin C, but it won’t help if the white blood cells can’t get past the sugar to use it!
2. It Will Keep Your Skin Looking Young
Here’s an appeal to your vanity.
Wrinkles, deep lines and sagging skin are a partial byproduct of the process known as glycation, in which excess sugar molecules attach themselves to collagen fibers and ultimately cause them to lose their strength and flexibility (scientists call these attachments AGEs, or advanced glycosylation end products). The result? Skin becomes less elastic with fine lines and sagging.
AGEs lie at the very heart of the aging process – from the skin to the brain – including age-related memory loss and even Alzheimer’s disease. AGEs also deactivate your body’s natural antioxidant enzymes, leaving you more vulnerable to sun damage.
3. Clearer Skin & Less Acne
It’s confirmed, sugary foods with a high glycemic index have been found to have an effect on the severity of acne because of the hormonal fluctuations they trigger. “Inflammation caused by excess sugar intake has been linked to other skin conditions as well, like psoriasis.
4. You’ll See Enhanced Brain Health and Mood
Since B vitamins are required to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates, sugar consumption can lead to deficiencies in the mood-boosting B-complex vitamins.
If you’ve read renowned neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain”, you already know it is a scathing analysis of carbohydrates and sugar and their powerful effects on mood and long-term brain health. And not just unhealthy carbs, but even healthy ones like whole grains can cause dementia, ADHD, anxiety, chronic headaches and depression.
5. You’ll Have a Better Mineral Balance
Excessive intake (especially in the form of fructose) may actually degrade vitamin D, as well as prevent it’s manufacture by the body!
Sugar has also been shown to increase the excretion of magnesium by the kidneys when many are already magnesium deficient. Magnesium is a mineral rock star, required for proper functioning of every single cell in the human body and essential for calcium absorption and utilization.
6. You’ll Feel More Energized
Studies show that added dietary sugars can decrease the activity of orexin cells. These cells are basically the Energizer Bunnies that induce wakefulness, stoke the metabolism, and keep our system movin’ and groovin’. When orexin cells are turned down or turned off, we’re sleepy and lethargic, which explains why you want to nap after a carb- and sugar-laden lunch.
(Bonus Benefit #7) Your Inflammation Fires Will Be Cooled
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition warns that processed sugars trigger the release of inflammatory messengers called cytokines.
Chronic, low-grade inflammation is linked to a broad range of conditions, including:
- Heart disease
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Autoimmune disease
If You Like To Crash
As anyone who relies on a candy bar or Diet pop knows, once that quick burst of blood sugar (sugar high) is metabolized, you’re gonna crash.
When you need fuel, trade out the sugary snack foods and drinks for foods high in protein and/or fat, like almonds, peanut butter, raw cheese or avocado. With a much longer digestion time, they’ll supply you with a steadier, longer stream of energy.
Yet, the takeaway isn’t to avoid anything containing sugar, but to focus on nutrient-dense whole fruits such as berries or an apple or use raw unfiltered honey when we do want something sweet!
For those in need of a practical way to cut sugar, there is a 40 Day Sugar Fast community Facebook group by Wendy Speake Brunner.
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Thanks for reading!