by Lauren Swanger, holistic health enthusiast and research journalist
Sugar is known by many names: white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, confectioner’s sugar, beet sugar, just to name a few. Treacle, dextrose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltodextrin, high-fructose corn syrup, and xylose are more difficult to pronounce, but they are still sugars. Pretending to be healthy alternatives are honey, agave, rice syrup, and the terribly misleading “organic dehydrated cane juice.” They too are sugars, and your body has absolutely no way of differentiating them.
Sugar is highly addictive, triggering a euphoric sensation in your brain that causes you to want more of it. The effect it has on your body chemistry can cause headaches, mood swings, and fatigue when you stop. Sugar keeps you in a perpetual state of hunger because it has no nutritional value. Your body stays hungry because it is waiting for the nutrients it needs to create satiety. The bacteria in your mouth feed off of sugar, increasing the likelihood of cavities. High blood sugar has been linked to memory loss and cognitive decline. Sugar can also cause blood albumin and lipoproteins to become less effective, thereby reducing the body’s ability to properly handle fat and cholesterol.
Making better food choices is a positive step towards eating less sugar. Go for foods that are in their natural, unprocessed state… fresh fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and full fat dairy. If you occasionally have processed foods, look for those with little to no added sugar. Ironically, that “healthy” box of granola bars you keep in your desk may have 12 grams of added sugar. That small container of yogurt you have as your 3 o’clock snack may have up to 26 grams of added sugar. Drinks, whether they are fruit juices or “ades” tend to contain high-fructose corn syrup. These drinks are enhanced with added sugar, causing some of the distressing side effects named above.
Giving up sugar is not as difficult as it sounds! Opting for fresh produce and fruits will make a huge impact in the quality of your diet. Swapping out a candy bar for a fresh apple will give you the physical satisfaction of eating along with vitamins, minerals, fiber, carbohydrates, and the benefits of a flavonoid that may protect post-menopausal women from osteoporosis. Plus, you’ll feel better knowing that you are helping your body’s chemistry regulate itself, so you will also feel better physically. It’s a win-win scenario!