Sweet but Evil: The Truth About Sugar

It’s the holidays, and most people tend to indulge in a lot of sweets. I’m not saying you should avoid sweets altogether but I thought I’d give you some insight on why we love the taste of sugar, what’s wrong with sugar, and tips to eliminate most processed sugars from your diet.

Why do we crave sugar?

We naturally gravitate to something sweet when we are really hungry because sugar digests very quickly and satisfies our hunger quickly. Studies have shown that sugar acts similar to addicting drugs like morphine to produce opioids in the brain. Opioids produce feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and can become addictive. Once food manufacturers figured this out they began producing sugar laden foods, especially foods for children. As a result, most people are hooked on sugar by the time they’re toddlers.

What’s wrong with eating sugar?

The average person now eats 158 pounds of sugar every year. If you do the math, that equals 800 extra calories per day from pure sugar. There are numerous problems resulting from excess sugar consumption. Here are just a few:

1. Obesity. Too much sugar in the body can’t be processed or utilized, so it gets stored as fat.
2. Diabetes. Excess sugar in the blood causes too much insulin to be released, which eventually leads to hypoglycemia and diabetes.
3. Poor immune function. Excess sugar depletes vitamin and mineral stores in our bodies,  weakening our immune systems, and contributing to degenerative disease.
4. Sugar can also disrupt our hormonal systems, causing allergies and many other malfunctions.
5. In addition, sugar plantations worldwide have caused widespread destruction by ruining the soil and trees of their surrounding environment.

What to do?

The elimination of most processed sugars in your diet is essential. The best way is to eat mostly natural foods and avoid processed and packaged foods that contain added sugars. You want to avoid any sweeteners, especially the artificial ones which are made of toxic chemicals that can create a whole list of other problems. Remember most packaged foods contain sweeteners along with other additives that you want to avoid. Learn to read labels; there are many natural food products that do not contain additives and simple sugars.

What’s sweet to eat?

As always, get your sweets primarily from natural sources like fruits. Raw honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, barley malt, Stevia and Agave are some natural sweeteners that are okay in moderation. However, it’s not necessary to eat any natural sweeteners, as you get plenty of sugar from fruits, starches and grains in your diet.

The best advice I can give is to live by the 80/20 rule. Eat perfect 80 percent of the time, and eat what you want the other 20 percent.

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Image courtesy of Howzey.

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