If you do nothing else for your health in 2014, DO THIS STEP! It is the single most important Health Step to assure you attain and maintain good health and avoid degenerative diseases such as diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
“It seems like every time I study an illness and trace a path back
to its first cause, I find my way back to sugar.”
Dr Richard Johnson, a nephrologist at the University of Colorado Denver
Cohen, Rich. National Geographic. Sugar: Why we can’t resist it. Aug 2013; p87
Why Is Sugar So Bad?
1. Sugar drives the obesity epidemic and can lead to diabetes.
The average American consumes a whopping 2.5 pounds of sugar a week. Sugar is not an essential nutrient, does not supply any nutrients, and takes the place of nutrient dense foods for most people.
2. Sugar stresses the pancreas by causing it to manufacture and release too much insulin.
Sugar consumption raises your blood sugar, usually making it spike very quickly. The pancreas must then secrete insulin, which ferries the sugar from the blood to your cells, where it is stored as fat. This process lowers your blood sugar, and you get hungry for more sugar or refined carbohydrates. The cycle continues, causing your energy to spike and plummet throughout the day. This cycle stresses the pancreas, and eventually it may become less efficient and produce less insulin. Your cells may also become insulin resistant, which means your blood sugar will remain high and diabetes will develop at this point.
3. Sugar stresses the adrenal glands and reeks havoc with our hormones.
High insulin levels in the blood trigger the adrenal glands to secrete cortisol, which is a stress hormone normally released when we are in the ‘fight or flight’ mode. If the adrenal glands are called on the continually secrete cortisol, they too will become tired and will be less efficient with all of the other tasks they are designed to do, such as manufacture progesterone, testosterone, adrenaline and much more. This leads to hormone imbalances, fatigue, and troubled sleep.
4. Sugar is addicting.
A rise in blood sugar causes the brain to release dopamine, which activates our feel good reward center. Once the blood sugar goes down, we crave the lost sugar high, causing hunger and sugar cravings. Low blood sugar levels increase appetite and cause you to eat more sugar.
5. Sugar leads to inflammation.
Of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage to your body, sugar molecules are probably the most damaging of all. When sugar reacts with certain proteins in the body, advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are formed. Evidence confirms that AGEs are one of the major causes of the chronic degenerative diseases associated with aging, such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Fructose, found most readily in high fructose corn syrup, is a very potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates AGEs and speeds up the aging process. Limiting sugar/fructose in your diet is a well-known key to longevity.
Why Not Just Switch to Artificial Sweeteners?
Sweeteners, both artificial and sugar derived, top the list of addictive additives. Artificial sweeteners are the absolute WORST things you can put in your body. Aspartame, sold under the brand names of NutraSweet and Equal, Splenda, Sweet ‘n Low, etc. are all artificial sweeteners. Diet cola often contains aspartame and caffeine combined – both highly addictive – the two agents create a unique but deadly combination of excito-toxins that kill off your brain cells. Before they do so, they give you something akin to a buzz. So you want more………….
Artificial sweeteners cause weight gain because they stimulate your body to crave carbohydrates.
Which Foods Contain Sugar or Turn to Sugar in the Body?
Carbohydrates are described as either refined (simple) or complex. Refined carbohydrates are the most damaging and include table sugar, white breads, pasta, pastries, cookies, cake, pies, cereal, candy, sodas, and sugary fruit drinks. Complex carbohydrates include whole grain breads, pastas and cereals, brown rice, and quinoa. Complex carbohydrates also raise your blood sugar but not as severely, so they are not quite as damaging. Some experts feel that complex carbohydrates should also be eaten in moderation.
Are There Any Healthy Sugar Replacements?
Stevia is a natural, plant based sweetener that is becoming very popular. Other natural sweeteners include raw honey, black strap molasses, grade A pure maple syrup, and maple sugar. There is another plant based sweetener from Peru, called Lucuma powder, that gives an ice cream like texture to your baking.
How Can I Control My Sugar Cravings?
Sugar cravings are the result of excess sweets and carbohydrates, not enough quality saturated fats, inadequate animal proteins, mineral deficiencies, and neurotoxic additives (MSG, artificial sweeteners) in the diet.
1. Replace sugar with snacks containing protein and fats, such as nuts, avocados, hummus, hard boiled eggs, protein bars (watch the sugar content) and cheese.
2. Eat more frequently throughout the day to keep your blood sugar on an even keel. When your blood sugar drops, you will crave something sweet.
3. Exercise has been proven to help control cravings by increasing energy and helping to regulate blood sugar.
4. Supplements such as Gymnema, L-Glutamine, and Magnesium can also help control cravings for sweets.
**We wish you success with your second Health Step for 2014. If you have any questions, please call our office. Better yet, make an appointment for your personalized nutritional analysis and be confident you are doing the right things to attain optimal health this year.
Recipe of the Month
Quinoa and Black Beans
1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 onion, chopped sea salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 1 cup frozen corn kernels
¾ cup uncooked quinoa (rinsed) 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
1 ½ cups vegetable broth and drained
1 teaspoon ground cumin ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and sauté until lightly browned. Just before the onion is done, add the garlic.
2. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with vegetable broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, sea salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
3. Stir frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro.
4. Optional: Add shrimp or chicken to make a complete, one dish meal.