Posted on March 22nd, 2019
First of all, we need glucose (sugar) for our body and brain to work. We get enough glucose from consuming carbohydrates (fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes).
Our body is clever enough in that it can break down glucose into energy and store some away for when it needs it again, but not without insulin. Insulin is our hormone that allows us to use glucose, without it we can’t metabolise sugar. Stored glucose is called glycogen and it is stored in the liver and in our muscles. Insulin also helps us to store protein and fat.
What happens when we upset this balance? Why is Sugar so dangerous/harmful?
- Creates inflammation in the body – your body fights off harmful substances in a way of releasing chemicals which create inflammation which is normal. The body sees sugar as harmful and fights against it, therefore eating it constantly keeps the body in a constant state of low-grade chronic inflammation. Essentially putting the body in a constant state of stress.
- Increases your hunger and desire for more of it (ADDICTIVE) – tricks the brain and acts like a drug to some extent making people have cravings and lose self-control.
- Increases your blood sugar and insulin levels – if you continue to eat it the body starts to become resistant to insulin – which is a hormone that is created by the pancreas to regulate blood sugar levels.
- Increased amount of visceral fat (fat found around organs) – insulin starts to not work as well and becomes resistant to sugar and as a result the body starts to store away more sugar and fat.
- Androgen levels increase – high insulin levels tell the body to create more testosterone which is linked to PCOS and increased hair production and skin conditions (acne).
- Age quicker – sugar damages your collagen and elastin in your skin.
- Poor gut health – high sugar causes an imbalance between good and bad bacteria, and the bacteria starts to crave sugar causing more damage. This will then affect multiple other bodily systems, including immune system. Nutrient and mineral deficiencies are common too.
- Sleep health – as serotonin a sleep hormone is produced in the gut, high sugar intake resulting in poor gut health with therefore affect quality of sleep. Serotonin is important for your sleep/wake cycle.
- Low energy – from constant blood sugar rising and falling and from a decrease in serotonin (happy hormone).
- Higher risk of depression and mood imbalances – blood sugar spikes, insulin resistance, poor gut health, and low serotonin levels.
- Rotten teeth – this is because bacteria in your month like to feed on sugar and acid is a by-product.
- Fertility and hormone problems – High sugar intake disrupts hormones and cause hormonal imbalances. High insulin levels inhibit ovulation and cause metabolic disorders such as PCOS. Most people who have PCOS are insulin resistant to some extent. It affects men the same way in terms of hormonal imbalances. Sugar also creates more oestrogen and combine that with xenoestrogens found in our environment – overload.
All of these negative side effects have been linked with a higher chance of Cancer, even more reason to make the change now!
That Sugar Film – Interesting points:
- The average Australian family of 4 consumes 6 x 1kg bags of sugar each week!
- If you removed the food at the supermarket that contains added sugar only 20% of food would be left.
- Sugar consumption started increasing in 1955 when it was believed that fat was the villain causing heart attacks, therefore the low fat movement began and as a result sugar increased to compensate for loss of flavour.
- Sugar is so addictive and comes with a ‘bliss point’, therefore it makes it really hard to enjoy vegetables and healthy foods when our brain becomes addicted.
- Sugar causes additive behaviour, we become so addicted that we must have sugar again and again.
- 1 tsp sugar = 4 grams of sugar
Types of Sugar – Refined, Unrefined and Artificial
Main types of sugar:
- Fructose: found in fruits and honey
- Galactose: found in milk and dairy products
- Glucose: found in honey, fruits and vegetables
- Lactose: found in milk, made from glucose and galactose
- Maltose: found in barley
- Sucrose: made up of glucose and fructose and found in plants
Refined Sugar – are sugars that cause a rapid rise in blood sugar. Empty sugars – sugars that provide no nutrients or minerals at all. Often gone through a manufacturing process or chemical process to refine them making them white and easier to use in foods. More shelf stable too.
Refined sugars are commonly found in soft drinks, baked goods and yoghurts as they break down and dissolve easily in food. i
Refined carbohydrates – white bread, white pasta, white rice and white flour – all affect the body the same way as white sugar.
It is fructose that is attracting most of the attention and is the worst form of sugar to consume in large quantities. Our bodies just don’t know how to utilise it therefore once in our blood stream it is often stored as fat if we can’t get rid of it.
Unrefined sugars – are sugars that don’t cause such a rapid rise in blood sugar. They often contain some minerals and nutrients and they haven’t gone through a manufacturing process to refine them. At the end of the day they are still sugar and you need to watch how much you consume.
Artificial Sugars – they cause the same health concerns as refined sugar, if not a bit worse. They can be more addictive. They contain no calories which is why they received a lot of attention originally.
Aspartame – one of the most dangerous artificial sugars is sold under other names such as Equal and NutraSweet. Predominately found in sugar free soft drinks, lollies, yoghurts and chewing gums.
Aspartame has been labelled a deadly neurotoxin as it excites the neurons in the brain which leads to neurons becoming damaged and dying as a result, therefore a common symptom that is reported is memory loss. Aspartame has also been shown to create an addictive effect once consumed on a regular basis.
Other common symptoms that have been experienced and linked to the consumption of aspartame include: headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss and joint pain.
Researchers and physicians who have been studying the adverse effects of aspartame have also linked aspartame to triggering or worsening chronic illnesses including: brain tumours, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia and diabetes.
How to bake smarter! Sugar alternatives/substitutes
- The fibre in fruit is what helps us digest the sugar without causing a rapid spike in our blood sugar.
- Fruit juices are dangerous – concentrated juice without the fibre means a huge spike in blood sugar as it breaks down so quickly! Also how many apples or mangoes for example do you need to make 1 litre of juice? Could you sit there and eat 5 mangoes in one sitting along with your breakfast?
Saying this, we only want to stick to 2 pieces daily as it is still sugar at the end of the day. I have seen so many people who want to lose weight but believe they are eating healthily and generally they are, but they are consuming 5 + servings of fruit a day. Granulated Sugars
- Coconut palm sugar is made from the sap and does retain some minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. GI 35
- Xylitol is a sugar alcohol and its chemical structure resembles both. It is a fermented sweetener made of whole plant pulp and when ingested doesn’t ever completely break down, hence low GI 7. Can also purchase xylitol icing sugar. This sugar can cause gastrointestinal problems for some people so you do need to be mindful.
Stevia is actually a herb and extremely sweet – is doesn’t rise your blood sugar. Please purchase from a health food shop to ensure you are getting good quality! GI 0
- Anti-microbial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties
- Boosts the immune system and a rich sources of dietary fibre
- A large portion of coconut’s fatty acid component consists of Lauric acid which can assist in increasing good cholesterol levels in the body
- Rich in iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper and manganese
- Improves the absorption of calcium and magnesium in the body
Syrups (raw honey, rice malt syrup, agave, maple syrup and molasses)
- Raw honey contains natural antioxidants, enzymes, minerals and vitamins that can help prevent free radicals from damaging the body. GI 30-50
- Rice malt syrup is 100% fructose free making it one of the slowest sugars to break down in the body. GI 25
- Agave is derived from the plant that makes Tequila. It contains saponins which display anti-inflammatory and immune system boosting properties. GI 15-30
- Maple Syrup comes from the sap of maple trees and contains antioxidants along with vitamins and nutrients. The darker the colour the more nutrition. GI 54
- Molasses is the byproduct of the sugar refining process. Contains vitamins and minerals including iron and calcium. 5 tbsp of molasses = 95% of your daily recommended iron intake. GI 55
- Come from the date palm tree. Quite nutritious and very sweet and contain fibre. GI 46-55