Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Effects of Sugar

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One thing that is wrong with our modern diet is the amount of sugar that we eat.  Processed sugars are the worst for us, but they are very common, showing up in everything from baked goods to pickles.  Most people love sugar.  It tastes very good!  It makes things more pleasant to eat.  The problem is that processed sugar is not found in natural foods.

Most of the foods you will find sugar in are processed, and those alone are bad for your health.  Adding all the sugar is just another problem with those foods.  Having a homemade treat with natural sugar once in a while is no big problem but the modern diet has sugar in it every day, sometimes all day long in the form of sodas and snacks.

I did not realize how much sugar affected me until I cut it out cold turkey.  Trying to lose weight, I knew that having processed foods that were loaded with sugar was a bad thing, and when my doctor told me to cut it out, I lost 7 pounds in the first week!  Of course after that, I got back into a habit of eating sugar and didn't think about it until my fast this year.  As soon as I cut out sugar again though, I lost weight very fast.

Cutting out sugar DOES NOT mean replacing it with sugar alternatives.  Artificial sugars are even worse for your body.  When I cut out sugar, I did not even have natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.  The only sugar I had was the natural sugar in fruit in its whole form, not juice.  I did not feel deprived and yes, I still enjoyed my food.

There are many problems with processed sugars:

It is addicting.
When you are eating sugar (or drinking it) all the time, your body wants it.  You crave it.  You develop habits of eating or drinking it so that you feel deprived if you do not have it.  The fact is that what you eat, you will crave.  It will take a couple days of not having sugar before your body adjusts and the cravings stop.  Like any addiction, it takes time, patience, and determination to fix it.

It contributes to obesity and diabetes.
Eating too much causes obesity.  Sugar makes things taste better and most likely means that we indulge in them too much.  Indulging in too much of those foods will eventually cause weight gain.  Natural sugars found in fruit can be processed by the body much easier than the processed white sugar that is so common today.  The white stuff causes immediate spikes in blood sugar, causing our pancreas to work harder.  Over time this can lead to type 2 diabetes.

It weakens our immune system.
I have experienced this firsthand.  When I was addicted to sugar, I would get sick way more often.  When I got sick and had a sore throat, my go-to thing was ice cream to ease the pain of the sore throat.  What I didn't realize was that the cold may have helped for a short period of time, but the sugar I was consuming was working against my body.  Infection and yeast feed on sugar.  If you are putting sugar into your body, the infection will grow faster, and your immune system will not work as well.

It affects our brain.
Overindulgence in sugar is linked to depression, poor memory formation, and learning disorders.  When I have a lot of sugar, I notice I cannot think as clearly or focus like I should.  My memory is worse and it's all due to having too much glucose in the blood.  That also goes back to the development of type 2 diabetes eventually.

It can throw hormones off balance.
Too much sugar can affect hormones which control a lot of things within our body.  One thing that I experience when eating sugar is acne.  I always heard that bad food causes acne, and it does, but it's mainly because the food causes hormone imbalances which contribute to the acne.  Sugar also affects the thyroid which can affect our weight and metabolism.

When our blood sugar is constantly high, it can cause many problems...
Usually seen in diabetics because of prolonged high blood sugar are things like damage to the eyes, nerves, blood vessels, heart, and kidneys; stomach problems such as constipation and diarrhea; vaginal and skin infections; slow healing cuts and sores; erectile dysfunction; etc.

Because I have experienced the adverse affects of food on my body, I want to warn others about it.  We are not perfect and I am not suggesting that you can never have another piece of cake again, but it should not be an everyday occurrence.  I used to think that when I had something, it was a rare treat, until I realized I was having something loaded with sugar five times a week!  I would immediately gain weight, feel sluggish, not be able to concentrate, break out with acne, and crave MORE sugar when I was in that cycle!

We have to break that nasty cycle.  Now that Valentine's Day is over and hopefully all the candy is gone, try to commit to not having any added or processed sugars.  I suggest at least a week to let your body detox, and once you make it that long, it isn't hard at all to continue the healthy lifestyle.  If you are addicted to soda or sugary coffee, that has to be the first thing to go.  Don't just switch to diet or artificial sweeteners though as they will only make you crave sugar more (and they are just SO bad for you).  I challenge you to do this and I want to hear your results!

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