Health and happiness are the most important things for our family. Alternative medicines can be a key component in helping your family achieve optimal health and wellness. As a Naturopathic doctor, I see individuals of all ages for various concerns. My practice focuses on using natural interventions (if necessary) to find and treat the root cause of disease, then it is all about prevention. One of the biggest contributors to our overall health is our diet, and specifically sugar consumption.
Sugar is everywhere it’s in our ‘healthy’ fruit juice, yogurt, salad dressing, BBQ sauces… Sugar now exists in 74% of packaged products. Most people don’t realize how common it is because there are 61 different names for sugar. Some of the less recognizable names found on packages include: barley malt, dextrose, maltose, rice syrup, beet sugar, cane juice, carob syrup, evaporated sugar cane. Ultimately, they are all just sugar, and all cause detrimental health effects. When we consider sugar from vegetables or fruit, keep in mind that they are surrounded by fiber. The fiber will help slow the absorption of the sugar and therefore less aggressive impact on the body. A good source of protein is another factor that can help lessen the impact of sugar.
In the 13th century one pound of sugar would have cost the equivalent of 360 eggs, today it is the cost of two eggs. The influx of added sugar also came when the low-fat revolution began, fat was removed from foods, sugar was then added to make it taste palatable. Without fat and sugar the processed foods tasted terrible. When breakfast cereals became known as healthy breakfast alternatives to eggs and bacon. Little did everyone know the ‘healthy’ low fat/no fat version was worse for them, containing up to 6x the amount of sugar as their full fat counterpart. Yogurt is one of the healthy foods that I like to challenge, a leading brand of yogurt contains 7tsp (29 grams of sugar) per servings this exceeds the recommended daily amount. Daily sugar intake recommendations by the American Heart Association are no more than 100 calories (6tsp- 25grams of sugar), and complete avoidance until 2 years old.
As a result of the abundant amount of sugar in our diets, sometimes unknowingly, we have developed sugar addiction. This isn’t completely our fault, not only is it a secret additive in so many foods but we physically can’t control ourselves. Take it from these rats, a study conducted in Bourdeaux France demonstrated rats given the choice between sugar and cocaine would choose sugar 94% of the time!! Our gut health is another important consideration when it comes to sugar addiction. Yeast is an opportunistic organism that can flourish on high sugar diet among other reasons. When there is too many existing in the gut, sugar addiction becomes even greater. With that being said, we have to understand the impact sugar is having on us.
Something as simple as changing your family’s breakfast cereal to a protein packed smoothie can have a huge impact on everyone’s mood, energy, concertation and focus. Consider your food as your body’s fuel, so fuel it up with good quality food rather than sugary, processed foods.
Here are 6 reasons to lower sugar intake or just get rid of it:
- Disease: There have been countless studies showing increased sugar consumption linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, tooth decay and heart disease. Sugar increases triglycerides levels in the blood, hardening arteries and increasing risk of stroke, heart attack and heart disease.
- Skin: Sugar binds to protein and fat during digestion creating advanced glycosylation end products (AGES), these are free radicals that can cause blemishes, reduce collagen and elastin in the skin causing wrinkles and loss of elasticity.
- Immunity: Sugar has a depressive action on the immune system by decreasing the activity of immune cells then also feeds bad bacteria and viruses.
- Nutrient depletion: Sugar inhibits mineral absorption, throwing the mineral balance of the body off. While also decreasing B vitamins because they are required to metabolize sugar and carbohydrates.
- Blood sugar regulation: Sugar causes spikes in blood sugar then drops shortly after causing us to be hungry and mood changes. This also causes inflammation throughout the body and brain.
- Fatty Liver: Fructose one of the most common forms of sugar, can only be metabolized by the liver. If there is too much in the body it will build up and be stored as fat leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver.
There are many ways to fight sugar cravings and limit consumption, some individuals benefit from gradual decreases, others need to go cold turkey. Find your method or I can help you discover the method that best suits you. I have included a meal plan full of new recipes to try, that I challenge even the pickiest eaters will like.
Wishing you and your family a Healthy and Happy 2018!
Dr. Michelle Hagel BSc, ND