I don’t agree with the purists who say, ‘sugar is sugar’ when referring to fruit sugar. The sugar this article is about is the white stuff; white refined and highly addictive sugar.
To put it in a nutshell unless you cook everything from scratch it is very, very difficult to avoid sugar as food manufacturers’ use it in abundance to ‘improve the flavour of processed food. However, all is not lost, if like most people you are partial to chocolate candy bars, desserts after dinner and various cakes, just by severely cutting down on these will greatly improve your health and should lose weight (I know I did) plus, significantly reduce the sugar intake in your diet.
Why reduce the sugar in your diet
Generally speaking, sugary foods have a very low, if any nutrient content, with the some the worst offenders are just blocks of pure sugar or fat and pure sugar, both of with have are sky high in calories, dead calories; that is calories that you get nothing from as there are very few vitamin and nutrients and they are in tiny amounts. For example, maple syrup is loaded with sugar and manufacturers claim it also contain trace amounts of vitamins and minerals, TRACE being the operative word. It will be of no surprise that you should not expect to be able to obtain your daily recommended intake of zinc, iron or any other nutrients by drinking or eating high sugar foods. If you are serious about your health you should reduce your white refined sugar consumption as much as possible.
Your body does not need the extra sugar; it is perfectly capable of obtaining all its needed energy from a whole foods diet with a balance of protein, fats and complex carbohydrates. Sugar itself provides no nutrient value and usually delivers glucose and fructose in amounts that the body cannot immediately utilize, meaning the excess calories are usually converted to body fat. Hence, the weight loss benefits if you reduce the sugar in your diet.
Sugary Foods are Potentially Addictive
Sugar is identified as an addictive substance by many experts because it activates the food reward centers in a person’s brain which turns on the vicious cycle of cravings and dependence. Even if the addictive effects of sugar are milder than morphine or cocaine, high sugar consumption can also turn into a real addiction. Persistent high intake will increase the risk of diabetes, weight gain and PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome).
Sugar Consumption Can Lead to Reduced Immunity
Studies have shown that sugar consumption can lower the body’s defenses. Once a person’s blood sugar level reaches 120 mg/dl, the ability of their white blood cells to destroy viruses and other disease-causing microorganisms can reduce by up to 75%.
A blood sugar of 120 mg/dl can easily be achieved just by eating some cookies or by drinking a glass of bottled fruit juice. Within ten minutes of ingesting sugar your immune system is suppressed and the ability of your body to fight against bacteria and viruses can stay compromised for up to five hours from the time you consumed the sugar.
Worse, your lowered defenses can persist even longer if you indulge in sugary foods several times in a day.
Blood Glucose Levels and Mood
Sugar or simple carbohydrates will rapidly affect your blood sugar and insulin levels. If you consume sugar on a regular basis you increase the risk of insulin resistance, obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes. That aside, the effects of sugar on the body can be felt within minutes of consumption and this is what is called a sugar spike and a sugar crash.
This is when your energy levels and your mood can go up and down much like being on a roller coaster. In turn, you will find yourself feeling irritable and craving for more sugary food. High sugar consumption can cause fatigue and difficulty concentrating.
Overcoming a Sugar Dependency
These symptoms and effects can be avoided and reversed by avoiding sugar and other foods that “act like sugar” in the body. If you are used to consuming large amounts of sugar, abstinence will almost certainly cause some withdrawal symptoms. You may experience headaches and irritability for a few days as your body detoxifies.
However, the upside is huge and once you are past that stage you will find that your mood and energy levels have become more steady and stable without the nasty sugar crash effect.