Nutrition Links

5 Reasons to Ditch Sugar

It’s not a surprise that sugar is getting a reputation as the most health sabotaging substance in our food supply.  Long gone (hopefully) are the beliefs that fat is the health robbing culprit.  It’s the sugar, not the fat that is making us overweight and sick.  American sugar consumption has risen over the past century from about 4 pounds a year per person to a shocking 150 pounds per person average! It’s no wonder we are experiencing the epidemics of maladies that plague us like heart disease, diabetes, depression and other degenerative diseases.  

Here are 5 reasons to ditch the sugar habit and regain your health:

  1. Sugar causes inflammation, which greatly affects our immune system.  Sugar impedes white blood cells from doing their job of fighting off infections, making us more susceptible to colds and viruses.  Studies have shown that excess sugar intake can decrease immunity by 50% starting just a half an hour after consumption lasting for up to 5 hours! Instead look for fruits that are high in antioxidants like blueberries to quell the sugar cravings and boost your immunity.

  1. Sugar ages us.  Sugar creates something called advanced glycation end-products (AGEs), which attack the collagen and elastin in our skin, making our skin age faster.  AGEs also play a role in worsening degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, diabetes and atherosclerosis.  Vitamin C is an excellent anti-aging nutrient as it helps with collagen synthesis.  Look for fruits loaded in vitamin C like papaya, kiwi, berries and pineapple that will boost your skin health as well as satisfy your sweet tooth.  

  1. Sugar is addicting.  Especially refined sugars.  It’s a socially acceptable addiction, like caffeine, but as with any addiction it will take a toll on your health.   Sugar triggers the same part of the brain as cocaine does.  Dopamine is released when we eat sugar, but eventually we need more and more of it to experience the same effect.  There is a link between excess sugar intake and depression.  Instead, try dark chocolate and almonds to keep the cravings at bay.

  1. Sugar causes blood sugar imbalances.  Ups and downs throughout the day sound familiar?  When your blood sugar is out of whack, you may feel hungrier and eat more.  Include fiber, protein and healthy fats at each meal to help stabilize your blood sugar and avoid the dangerous “dips” that leads to fat storage.

  1. Sugar increases our risk of heart disease.  High sugar intake is associated with excess insulin, which leads to tense artery walls. This increases your blood pressure, as well as your risk of a heart attack and stroke.    Healthy fats such as avocado, hemp seeds, and olive oil can reduce your risk as well as satiate you, making you less likely to binge on sugar.

While excess sugar is harmful, I believe the body can handle small amounts of sugar. Dark chocolate, frozen grapes, or homemade smoothie pops are great alternatives.  It’s not easy giving up sugar, but creating awareness around just how much sugar you are consuming can be helpful in reducing your intake.  
Unfortunately agave syrup, honey, maple syrup, white flour, whole wheat flour, fructose, dextrose, cane sugar…all break down in the body as sugar.  Even so called natural products from the health food store contain different forms of sugar that may be disguised as “healthy”, but are just as sabotaging.   Agave syrup, for example, is 70% fructose and just as refined as high fructose corn syrup.  To reduce the sugar that may be lurking in your pantry, be sure to check your tomato sauce, almond milk and yogurt containers, you might be surprised at the amount of sugar that is added!

Cheers to your good health!  
Molly 

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fructose overload infographic

Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic “Fructose Overload.” Use the embed code to share it on your website or visit our infographic page for the high-res version.

<img src="http://media.mercola.com/assets/images/infographic/fructose-overload-infographic.jpg" alt="fructose overload infographic" border="0" style="max-width:100%; min-width:300px; margin: 0 auto 20px auto; display:block;"><p style="max-width:800px; min-width:300px; margin:0 auto; text-align:center;">Discover the fructose content of common foods, beverages, sauces, and even sugar substitutes in our infographic "<a href="http://www.mercola.com/infographics/fructose-overload.htm">Fructose Overload</a>." Visit our infographic page for the high-res version.</p>