Is Sugar the Enemy?

sugar the enemy

Spring is here with it’s warm days, chilly evenings and a few April showers and icy breezes thrown in just to push our sugar cravings, to the limit. But it’s time to get rid of bad habits and start a cleaner, healthier living.

There are many diets recommending cutting out food groups, to only eating one kind, but what all agree on is that sugar, particularly refined, is the most damaging food for health. It is an easy ingredient for manufacturers to use in foods to make it tastier and more addictive to us. As a result, it continues to sneak its way into tons of the foods we eat daily– even those deemed ‘healthy’ and created for the healthier target market. A popular smoothie brand was found to have more sugar in than a can of regular soda. Healthy fruit bars can consist of 50% sugar even though there is “none added”. Yes, fructose from fruit will give a longer release of energy than glucose does, but sugar in any form can be damaging to our health in large quantities.

With many agreeing that following any one diet is less important than understanding nutrition and learning how to balance your own meals, it seems that the anti-sugar consensus applies to all. If you aren’t a fan of diets and don’t yet feel confident to make drastic life changes – this is the one change you can make that will yield dramatic results!

A few interesting sugar facts you may not be aware of:
  • Sugar is addictive. Sugar releases an opiate-like substance that activates the brain’s reward system. Studies have shown it to be more addictive than some narcotics.
  • Consuming refined sugar depletes the body of B vitamins. Vitamin B deficiency causes symptoms like heart palpitations, chronic fatigue, paranoia, anxiety, insomnia, poor concentration, indigestion, and cravings for sugar.
  • Sugar makes the digestive system acidic, which leaches vitamins and minerals from the body, particularly calcium from bones and teeth. It also depletes potassium and magnesium, which are both essential for cardiac health.
  • Glucose is so quick absorbing so it puts stress on the pancreas having to produce insulin to deal with the sugar digested
  • Sugar feeds candida, a yeast naturally found in our digestive tract, which in turn affects the immune system
  • Sugar affects blood flow and affects ageing, increased wrinkles and dry skin.

Cutting out sugar is not the easiest of tasks but having a good idea of what you should be changing will already help.

So we mentioned diets not being the answer but most diets do make some nutritional sense. By avoiding foods high on the Glycaemic Index (GI) and sticking to ones that are lower, you will see that your sugar cravings are lower and your energy higher. The GI diet was the original diet that the now popular “zone” diet and many others were based on. Find out more about GI foods here.

The food combination diet also talks about sugar. Not only is it a medium for the growth of yeast, but eating sugary foods, or carbohydrates with high-protein foods, hampers their digestion. These inhibit the secretion of ptyalin, an enzyme in the saliva for the digestion of starch. Sugar also inhibits the stomach’s secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCl), which is necessary for the digestion of protein. Ptyalin is chemically basic and would be neutralized by HCl. Thus, when starch is eaten alone, little HCl is secreted. However, when a protein and starch are eaten in the same meal, the starch soaks up the HCl meant for the protein, arresting its digestion and slowing the digestion of the protein.

Other diets talk about cutting it out altogether. This may seem like the answer, but it can make even the most hardcore dieter feel absolutely awful. Glucose is your body’s energy source. Too much and the excess causes havoc on the cells and gets stored as fat. Too little and you may feel like life as you know it has ended. Your body will start to break down fat for your body to use (known as ketones) but while it is doing this, toxins that have been stored in the fat are released, or if you had a candida overgrowth you have the “die off” effect from the yeast cells starving and both of these leave the body feeling flu-ish, foggy headed and in some cases a lot of pain.

So what is the answer?

Sugar is not the enemy. How we eat it is.

  • Be wise with your food choices check the percentage of sugar in foods you purchase.
  • Opt for raw, unprocessed foods or home made foods rather than ready meals or fast food.
  • Check out the “of which sugars” quantity per 100g on food labels and try to keep it under 10%.(per serving can often be misleading)nutritional ref
  • Have a treat on the rare occasion and not as a pick me up when you’re feeling tired.
  • Stress is a bigger problem,  so finally…don’t stress about your food.