With all the hoo-ha about evil ol’ sugar, you’re probably even beginning to believe that the devil himself comes in the form of a small, white, sickeningly sweet granule!
But what you may still be asking yourself is just why sugar is so very bad for you. After all, it’s a ‘natural’ product and hasn’t got any fat in it... and isn’t it fat that makes you, well, fat!?
There are so many studies out there on the sugar/health connection but one man who sums it all up pretty well is Doctor Robert Lustig, a Professor in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, who has been a real pioneer in decoding the way sugar is metabolised in the body. According to Lustig, “It’s not about the calories. It has nothing to do with the calories. It (sugar) is a poison by itself”.
Here are a few reasons why
- Eating too many dietary carbohydrates, especially from sugars, causes fat to become fixed in fat tissue (rather than used as energy, or moved out of the body).
- Sugar intake raises your insulin levels, which can prevent fat from being released and ‘flushed’ from the body.
- Eating too much sugar directly causes free fatty acids to turn into triglycerides that get stored as fat (this is particularly true of fructose, a kind of sugar found in just about any processed food, baked item or sweetened drink, including fruit juice. Also found in high levels in dried fruit)
- Sugars can directly interfere with your brain’s communication with leptin, the hormone that suppresses your appetite. So your likelihood of overeating and obsessively craving not-so-wholesome foods increases.
So how much is too much?
According to Dr Joseph Mercola, a renowned expert in natural health, you should stick to these few guidelines:
- Limit sugar intake to less than 25 grams per day. At least 15 grams of this should come from fruit, which doesn’t leave a lot of wriggle room for other, more processed foods. An apple alone has between 5-10 grams of fructose, so imagine the damage a single can of Coke would do!
- Limit or eliminate processed foods, which contain hidden sugars – the worst kind!
Need a Visual?
Need a visual of what sugars and processed foods are doing to your insides? Here we go...
Imagine for a moment that you’ve just sprained your ankle. In order to repair itself, your body releases inflammatory hormones at levels well above the norm, so the ankle swells up, heats up and eventually begins to heal. In a few weeks’ time, your ankle seems good as new but each time you sprain it again, it gets weaker and sustains more long-term damage.
Basically, because this kind of inflammation is low grade, it would practically go unnoticed for a long time but if it happens often enough, could progressively destroy the body and lead to metabolic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, etc.
This would also explain why some people, who seem to be able to ‘get away with eating anything’ early on in life often find they gain a significant amount of weight all at once a few years down the track and then struggle to lose it, as their metabolic systems have sustained significant damage over time and struggle to recover. Very interesting stuff!
Luckily, research shows that the metaflammation process can be counteracted by making sure you have a tip-top diet made up of predominantly plant foods, lean proteins and good fats and by exercising regularly; consistency is key, which is even more motivation to keep moving!
How can you kick those sugar cravings to the curb?
Well, there are a few little tricks of the trade that seem to work pretty well, for example when all you can think is “chocolate!” try picturing something else, like a strawberry or a mango and soon enough, you’ll be craving that instead. OR you could try imagining that you’ve indulged in far too much of the food you’re craving (1kg of chocolate should do it!) and think about how sick you’d feel if you actually did eat that much! I know this sounds strange but it’s a great tip I got from a well known nutritionist and it works!
However, I prefer changing the way I think about desserts entirely. For example, rather than associating that piece of post-dinner chocolate with happiness, satisfaction and relaxation, I like to think about a few of these points instead:
- Desserts are addictive and the more often I eat them, the more I will want them!
- I don’t want to be eating foods that cause withdrawal symptoms when I stop eating them.
- Whole foods (and in particular plant foods), provide a bucket load of super nutrients that will make my skin glow, fight ageing, give me more energy and help me to feel naturally and consistently happy.
- Excessive, or even moderate but consistent sugar intake, on the other hand, has been linked to disease, poor general health, weight gain, mood disturbances and depression.
- Empty calorie desserts can be replaced with nutrient-dense alternatives. You can, for example, have one of our Collagen cookies and get the same happiness you would get from a sugary snack, but with all the health benefits.
- The key to changing the way I eat is changing at the desire level and truly believing, in my heart of hearts, that I really WANT that orange rather than a chocolate bar. Why? Because it’s supporting my body, not destroying it. And it still tastes great!
- We can re-train our taste buds – and it’s easier/quicker to do than you’d think!
- Desserts are full of calories but provide no nutrition to my body and in fact, can rob my cells of important vitamins and nutrients, leading to premature ageing and a depleted immune system. Choose better alternatives, swap that chocolate sauce for some Collagen nut butter.
- When we care about something enough, we can choose to do it – and the “all or nothing” mindset can actually work to your advantage when it comes to sugar because initially, it’s all about breaking the addiction.
- Lastly, distracting with a herbal tea, glass of water, or piece of fruit and making sure NOT to sit in front of the TV can actually work wonders when it comes to breaking the sugar habit!
Beauty Food Co-founder
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