Senior Health – Sugar is Not Your Friend!

Growing up, our parents always told us not to eat too many sweets. Turns out, they were right! While sweets are and have always been, the smallest quadrant of the food pyramid, it seems that with age, sugar becomes increasingly bad for you. Decreasing your sugar intake can help cut back your risk of the most common health risks- such as heart disease and type-2 diabetes!

Before sugar gets to your tummy, it goes through an industrial refining process that purifies it. In that process, it is stripped of all vitamins, minerals, proteins, enzymes and any other edificial nutrients it may possess resulting in an unnatural substance that the body is unable to handle in mass quantity. (FACT: Sugar is refined in a process very similar to that of Heroin) Today’s accepted lifestyle includes a great deal more sugar then it did in the early 1900’s when heart disease and cancer were virtually unknown!

Today, the average American consumes approximately 115 pounds of sugar per year!

Sugar is addictive! Approximately 95% of people are addicted to it on some level. Stop and think about it. What happens when you don’t get your sugar fix during the day? You crave it, and become moody and irritable! The average American eats sugar with breakfast in their coffee or on their pancakes, you have sugar again with lunch in your salad dressing or a 3 o’clock snack of cookies or candy, and again with dinner. When you don’t get your normal hit of sugar, you crave it more and more and it affects your mood and ability to focus and work. Studies find that sugar addicts are much like crack addicts in their needs, withdrawals, and denial.

Some Risks Related To Sugar Intake:

Not ALL sugar is bad- sugars found in complex carbohydrates are actually good for you. However, the average individual eats far more sugar than their body needs or can handle. The following are a few risks associated with a high sugar diet.

o Sugar Depresses The Body And The Immune System! The glycemic index is a numbered rating system used to measure how fast or slow the absorption and digestion process is for any given food. The lower the rating, the slower the absorption, which gives a more gradual and healthier infusion of sugar into the bloodstream. Foods with a low glycemic index are better for you. However, a high rating means that the blood-glucose levels are increased quickly, which will stimulate the pancreas to secrete insulin to drop the blood-sugar back down to a normal level. These rapid fluctuations in blood-sugar levels are not healthy and put stress on the body. Another major drawback of sugar is that it causes the body to raise insulin levels which prevent the release of growth hormones which in turn depresses the immune system.

o A Tired Pancreas May Mean Too Much Sugar! A diet filled with too much sugar can exhaust your pancreas leading to the depletion of your insulin reserve. In turn, resulting in diabetes. The more sugar you eat, the harder your pancreas works to maintain a normal blood-sugar level. If you were to get tested after binge eating sugar for a number of hours, your blood-sugar level may very well be normal still, because your pancreas created enough insulin to offset the sugar. However, your insulin levels would be sky high. This overworking of the pancreas can lead to one day stopping creating insulin all together, which will leave you diabetic.

o Sugar and Heart Disease. Studies have shown that the increase in sugar consumption has lead to higher risks and cases of heart disease. Sugar has been associated with increasing the adhesiveness of blood platelets, increasing blood insulin levels and causing many heart complications and diseases.

So clearly, sugar, which seems more like an addiction problem and less like an enjoyable sweet, can lead to many complications and diseases.

Occam’s Razor: Cutting Sugar Down to Size

I look at sugar addiction through a brain chemistry filter – which brain chemicals are triggered by sugar and how those chemicals affect behavior, appetite, emotions, and mental state.

I’ve been doing it for a long time – over 20 years.

Yet I frequently come in contact with “big” theories:
• that we crave sugar because we want to fill ourselves with sweetness, since we have none in our lives
• that attachment to sugar goes back to childhood traumas
• that we reach for sugar when we’re really reaching for love
• that we need to dig deep to find the root of the sugar problem and clear it before we can quit successfully.

It exhausts me, and makes me doubt those explanations.

I confess that it also makes me doubt myself and my methods. Why? Because most of the explanations I find for sugar addiction run in these emotional directions.

What’s Occam’s Razor – and What’s It Got to Do with Sugar?

As a principle for problem-solving, Occam’s Razor advises us to select the simplest solution, the one with the fewest assumptions, the fewest “mini-theories” to complicate things.

In my experience, the brain chemical explanation for sugar tends to be neat. “This is your brain on drugs” kind of neat.

No analysis of personalities, past lives, traumas, why your cousin was mean to you at the last family gathering and why that made you binge on brownies. No self-improvement programs. No emotional baggage.

Just “here’s what sugar is doing to you” and “here’s what you can do about it.”

Without the brain chemistry piece, even the methods for getting rid of sugar cravings tend to be convoluted. Or at least ineffective.
• Take deep breaths.
• Ask yourself what you really want.
• Eat some sugar slowly and savor it.
• Eat some sugar, then have something that’s good for you. (Really? Chocolate, then broccoli?)
• Find healthy substitutes.

That last one bothers me most because it keeps people in the sugar trap. Making foods taste sweet by using “better” sugars isn’t really the solution to a sugar addiction.

I’ve ranted against trending sugars – agave syrup, coconut sugar, dates, maple syrup, monukka honey and others – but most nutritionists give in to the popular view. They offer recipes for brownies, cookies, cakes made with these various “healthful” sugars.

I recently reacted strongly to an article that stated, “Those sugar cravings never really go away, do they?”

Yikes. Of course, they do! Completely.

But they won’t (and can’t) go away when you’re always eating – and constantly looking for – the latest so-called healthful alternative to sugar instead of just… getting over it.

Occam’s Razor for Sugar Addiction: Simpler Than Psychoanalysis and New Sugar Obsessions?

It IS simple. Fix the brain chem thing. Get past your sugar addiction, don’t turn it into a different addiction. Eat to stay healthy. Your cravings go away. You feel fantastic.

From there, you can analyze your emotions and behavior patterns to your heart’s content. It will amaze you, however, how many of those things clear up when you simply loosen the grip of sugar on your brain. Seriously.

Occam’s Razor slices through the complicated nonsense and leaves an effective answer.

It works for sugar addiction, too.

In this case, the simplest solution lies in brain chem. The complex emotional layers become secondary. Not unimportant, mind you, but not necessary to analyze and re-hash before fixing the sugar problem.

And that’s why I love working with foods and brain chemistry. It’s Occam’s Razor at work.

Nothing Sweet About Sugar

The definition and context in which the word “sweet” is used varies in the type of sentence you put it into. Like “you are so sweet” meaning you said or did a kind act. Sweet can be used to describe the smell of a fragrance, like flowers or perfume or aha taste. The big one the sense of taste that we either run from or attract us like bears to honey.

Let’s face it; a huge number of the world’s population has some form of an addiction to sugar. Though we may want to deny it, let’s fire off a few questions to clear up any misconceptions on if you have an “addiction to sugar”

Have to have something sweet every day?

Have to have a pop, soda, or soft drink every day?

Can’t have coffee or tea without sugar?

Just need a sugar fix?

I am not about to attempt to try to change or start a petition to separate the word sweet from sugar, but think about the destruction sugar has inflicted on human kind bodies. Now, that won’t be such a bad idea after all huh!

Ok, besides the immediate gratifying taste what is one good benefit for sugar consumption to the body? Take as much time as you need, do as much research as you like, but there is absolutely nothing, nada good about this stuff.

All the glucose our blood needs is meant to be pulled from the nutrients we consume in the form of carbohydrates found in the fruits and vegetables we eat, not from processed sugars.

When it comes to sugar; we use too much and be known to us sugar is found in just about everything we consume; from breads, to salads in some fast food restaurants, to dressings, sauces, to microwave meals, to cough syrups and medications. Sugar in one form or another is an ingredient found in surprising places.

Google the following “sugar in the bloodstream” and you will be awakened to a world of nothing but negative affects of sugar consumption. Sure you may not see what it is doing internally right now, but it does show up eventually on the outside. Weight gain, bad teeth, low energy, and tired broken skin are only a few symptoms of the damaging effects of what the use of sugar can do to a body.

Health studies reveal that sugar depresses the immune system, raises the insulin level, which inhibits the release of growth hormones, and high blood pressure to name a few is sufficient information that should encourage us to consume less of it in our nutritional plan. Health studies conducted have proven that the consumption of sugars have been known to cause and contribute to over 20 negative affects on our health. Sugar is a huge contributor to weight gain, obesity, headaches, depression, acidic stomach, diabetes and the list goes on. So, we may not be able to 100 percent avoid all the processed sugars, but we can make the switch to cut back on our sugar intake by practicing the following

  • Get into the habit of reading labels and if sugar isn’t in sitting on the lower end of the ingredients list, don’t get it.
  • Avoid all together pop, soft drinks, and fruit juices unless you’re juicing your own.
  • Reduce or eliminate the use of sweeteners like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and pasteurized honey.
  • Consume more fresh fruit and vegetables and drink more water lots of it.

What will be the outcome? A healthier body inside and out and our organs will thank us; plus the added advantage of having more energy, feeling and looking better. So the bottom line is; let’s get into the habit of reading labels and make the decision to limit or reduce drastically the consumption of all forms of sugars from our lifestyle.