Yes, for decades they had us fooled into believing that fat was the demon. So what now? Sugar? Indeed yes! Research today shows that the cheap energy source sugar is indeed the villain of most diseases: Starting with weight gain and obesity, ranging right through to high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It doesn't stop there. Did you also know that this culprit feeds skin disorders, suppresses immunity, causes allergies, contributes to leaky gut syndrome, causes anxiety and depression, increases fluid retention and leads to nutrient depletion? The list just goes on.
Sugar is a crystalline white powder generally derived from sugar cane or sugar beets. It is found in highly processed foods like soft drinks, snack bars, cereals, breads, pasta, rice and sweets, adding taste, color and texture. It also occurs naturally in fruit, honey, legumes and starchy vegetables such as potatoes, pumpkin, corn, carrots et cetera. Industrially-derived sugar is calorie laden with no nutrients such as protein, fibre, vitamins, minerals or essential fats. Nutritionally it is "empty" making it non-essential for human consumption.
Why do we keep on sugar?
When consumed several times over the course of a day, the pancreas releases a hormone called insulin. In excess, insulin causes sugar to be stored as fat and further to this it also stimulates hunger. And the vicious cycle continues.
Thinking of quitting?
As mentioned earlier, there are many more reasons to come off sugar. They are: migraines, bags under the eyes, sugar cravings, increased appetite, candida over growth, constipation, bloating and flatulence, acne, weight gain (especially in the mid-section), physical and mental fatigue and high blood pressure.
The list is never ending. For the most, long-term implications can be quite debilitating and detrimental. So, is it worth giving up your sweet tooth to age healthy and gracefully, free of disease? I think we all know the answer to that.
At first, it might seem daunting but here are 10 tips to "re-setting" your sweet tooth:
1. Consume a minimum of 20 grams of protein at each meal. This will help satiety and cravings. If you find this difficult, add a protein shake, whether that be whey protein or a vegan source such as rice, soy or pea. Consider casein if you opt for whey as this will keep you fuller for longer.
2. Get plenty of healthy fats from avocadoes, coconut, flaxseed, nuts and seeds, deep sea fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines at each meal, to keep you full, help with bowel elimination and prevent fat from being stored.
3. Consume on average 30 milligrams daily fiber from leafy greens, vegetables such as cucumbers, broccoli, brussel sprouts and cauliflower, chia seeds, psyllium husk, flaxseed meal and almonds. This will help regulate blood sugar and increase feelings of fullness.
4. Aim to consume 1.5 liters of purified water daily. Drink as much as you can to drown your cravings.
5. Stay clear of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, saccharin et cetera as they stimulate sugar cravings more so than sugar and trick the brain into storing fat. Instead use stevia, xylitol or rice malt syrup (in moderation).
6. Reduce caffeine intake. It depletes vital nutrients, which balance blood sugar.
7. Supplement with a quality cinnamon tablet to regulate blood sugar. Add cacao to smoothies, yogurt and puddings. Also consider high-strength green tea tablets to increase metabolism and the herbal gymnema will lower sugar cravings. As for nutritionals, consider chromium, magnesium and/or zinc as they all play a vital role in improving insulin uptake.
8. Get active! Exercise has been shown to alter brain chemicals that make you feel happy and full and crave less. Further to this it also helps improve your body's response to sugar, burns calories and increases metabolism. For best results apply "High Intensity Interval Training" (HIIT).
9. Consider reducing your total calorie intake. This makes total sense as you are not frequently pumping insulin. Start off by reducing snacking. Then there's fasting. Recently there's been much hype about fasting and its benefits. This is where you go without consuming any food for extended periods. Your body then taps into its fat stores, converts fat to fuel.
10. Last but not least, do not quit - even if you may fall off the wagon from time to time. Stay determined and pick yourself up and try again.
Sugar, the sweetest and most evil of them all can be conquered. So let's all take control and work on preventing and not treating disease. Please check with your healthcare practitioner before considering any of the recommendations above.
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