This is a question everyone needs to ask themselves…. why? Well because I am of the conviction that the majority of us are held hostage by our taste buds!
Many don’t take the time to realize that they rely on sugar for emotional comfort and sugar in a variety of forms are used for celebrations of all sorts:
- foods with sugar in them are pleasant of course to our taste buds
- sweet foods are associated with FUN (i.e. birthdays, holidays, weddings, in fact every social celebration has a dessert table)
- sugar is also associated with love
What about Children and “sugar”…. well:
- Sugar appears to calm children down, at least temporarily
- hospitals give sugar (glucose) water to infants… “why” ?
- parents placate and reward their kids with sweet treats
- sugar has a sweet, almost innocent reputation and to most people depriving kids of it is considered to be punishment by many
My youngest son had intussusception at 6 months old that required surgery. Its a telescoping that often blocks foods/fluids from passing through the intestines. It can also cut off blood supply to parts of the intestine. Hence, he struggled every time we tried to introduce solid foods until he was almost 3 years old. For his 1st birthday party where it is typical to offer the child their own smash cake loaded with frosting, my son had plain yogurt. The relatives in attendance just couldn’t wrap themselves around that factor. Of course I had cake for everyone else, but I found that every time I turned my back someone was trying to offer him frosting on their fingers because they felt it cruel. Yet none of them took the time to understand the depth of what was happening inside his digestive track.
There is a general view of sugar in our society both from a scientific stance and a general connection. What do those look like?
- Sugar = energy (this is true but there are other forms of sugar other than the white stuff)
- source doesn’t matter, refined sugars are no different than the sugars found in foods
- the only real problem is “too much”.
- sugar alone is not responsible for diabetes, it’s just one factor.
These are what most hang their choices and justification on and they are leading themselves down a rabbit hole of misinformation to justify why they continue to eat it.
- Sugar = energy they body NEEDS sugar for energy conversion and lots of foods we eat are in fact converted into a form of sugar for that reason, grains, veggies and fruits. We call them carbohydrates and there are both complex and simple carbohydrates. Simple carbs convert faster, whereas the complex carbs work more like a time release.
- Source doesn’t matter, refined sugars are no different than the sugars found in foods is hog wash… they are not even in the same category.
- The only real problem is “too much”. when the truth is a variety of different sugars are added to and hidden into even what is labeled as “health foods”.
- Sugar alone is not responsible for diabetes, it’s just one factor, well there is some element of truth to that statement but also leaves the wiggle room for personal justification. So many diabetics USE their insulin as a means to justify their ends. Meaning they choose to eat that sleeve of cookies and adjust their insulin intake in the attempt to fix the imbalance which places them on a vehicle that is heading out of control.
There is an epidemic in our country it’s called “DIABETES”…. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2017; as of 2015 an estimated 30.3 million Americans had diabetes (9.4% of the total population, 12/2% of adults)
There are also about 7.2 million folks who have diabetes and they are not even aware yet that they do.
The amount of children being diagnosed is becoming staggering.
Diabetes is on the rise. It is no longer a disease of predominantly rich nations, in fact, the prevalence of diabetes is steadily increasing everywhere, most markedly in the world’s middle income countries.
Globally, there are an estimated 422 million adults who were living with diabetes in 2014, compared to 108 million in 1980. The global prevalence (which means “age-standardized) of diabetes has nearly doubled since 1980, rising from 4.7% to 8/5% in the adult population. This reflects an increase in associated risk factors like being overweight or obese.
There are several dietary practices that are lined to unhealthy body weight and/or type 2 diabetes risk, which includes high intake of saturated fatty acids, high total fat intake and inadequate consumption of dietary fiber. High intake of sugar sweetened drinks, which contain considerable amounts of free sugars, increases the likelihood of being overweight or obese, particularly among our kids.
recent evidence further suggests an association between high intake of sugar sweetened drinks and increased risk of type 2 diabetes. The new choice of sweet drinks for our kiddo’s are the energy drinks! Which are also leaching the calcium from their bones while also bathing their bodies with ridiculous amounts of refined and artificial sugars.
The WHO Dietary recommendations and the Food and Agriculture Organization states that for the prevention of type 2 diabetes one should include:
- Limiting saturated fatty acid intake to less than 10% of total energy intake
- get adequate intake of dietary fiber through regular consumption of wholegrain cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables
- Reducing ones intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake and suggests that further reduction to 5% could bring additional health benefits.
Here’s a more accurate view of Sugar and it’s connection to the health issues that go with it:
- Sugar is potential energy which REQUIRES vitamins and minerals to process it into usable energy in the body. Refined and artificial sugars do NOT supply any vitamins or minerals.
- The form or source of the sugar makes a BIG difference
- Refined carbohydrates are the primary cause of diabetes
The truth is that nutrients are required to process sugar into a form of energy that the body can actually USE.
- vitamins which is why white flour has to be enriched, they processed all the naturally occurring vitamins out of it to make it WHITE.
- amino acids
- without these nutrients energy cannot be extracted from sugar efficiently.
- natural foods contain these nutrients, refined carbs do not.
The Nuts and Bolts: SUGAR IS ADDICTIVE!
I often encourage my patients to try this test:
- don’t eat anything with refined sugar in it for 2 weeks (many struggle big time because that means they have to look at their salad dressings, their condiments like ketchup, soups, gravies, chips with coatings/flavors, barbecue sauces, chicken and beef broths ) start reading labels and you will see where it’s all hidden right under our noses.
- if they have kids, I also tell them to not let them have anything with sugar for a few days ; and you will see all the classic symptoms of withdraws.
The truth has been proven through science that sugar stimulates the reward centers in our brain, causing a release of dopamine.
Dopamine neurons are what motivate and reward us for pursuing worthwhile goals in our life.
This part of the brain is also stimulated by drugs like nicotine, cocaine and amphetamines.
Regular sugar intake overstimulates dopamine causing the neurons to be blunted which create the cravings.
Actual brain scans have shone how the reward centers in the brain light up like a pin ball machine when sugar is consumed!
Food Manufacturers have done their research and KNOW that sugar is addicting so if they add it to their products it will keep you coming back for more. The truth is that sugar is often combined with other stimulants to increase their effects:
- caffeine in tea, coffee and sodas
- flavored alcoholic drinks
- cigarettes: YEP, the addition of sugar to tobacco not only increased tobacco sales, it appears to have made them more addictive.
So the bottom line is that source matters and its way more than just a “chemistry” thing.
It’s not just a matter of nutritional density (lack of vitamins/minerals). The refining process denatures the sugar so it no longer has a compatible energy with the body and acts more like a drug than a food!
Here’s another experiment you can try at home. This is another piece of homework I like to give my patients:
- Cut up some sweet fruits you like, like apples or bananas (both are popular choices), KEEP eating them until you lose the desire to take another bite. Your stomach will probably not be physically full, but you will get a feeling like you just cannot eat another bite. The body exhibits a response like an automatic shut off switch.
- Next take some foods you like with refined sugar, candy, cookies, cake. Eat them until you lose the desire to eat any more. Chances are you can continue to nibble on these foods even if you are physically full. You can eat the whole package of cookies, you can eat several BIG pieces of cake with frosting, you can eat the lions share of candy bars. You see when the Vitamins/minerals are absent, it interferes with the way the body was designed by God to know when to say when!
Think about this, have you ever found yourself “making room” for desert even after your stomach feels full from a meal? The mechanics that tell you to stop eating, you have had enough doesn’t seem to work with sugar. It acts more like a drug than a food, the more you eat the more you crave!
The initial effect of sugar is “pleasure” remember the dopamine release. This is not an actual increase in energy production, but an increase in energy discharge which is why the let down usually follows and brings with it some irritability, anxiety, fatigue and for some mild depression, and many “a nap”!
Those celebration events we all attend, ever pay attention to those kiddo’s after the cake and ice cream has been served? They usually get loud, rowdy, we call it hyperactive and then irritable within less than an hour. They start to whine, cry, even pick fights with each other.
Ok So now I’m gonna get to the heart of the matter…. WHY QUIT? I mean lets face it; an alcoholic isn’t going to quite drinking and a smoker isn’t going to quit smoking until they see a reason to… right?
Same reason no one is willingly going to quit a sugar habit until they recognize the benefits of doing so! So let me offer you some of those benefits:
- weight-loss usually follows refraining from sugar intake
- energy levels climb and become more stable
- the immune system gets stronger and many with autoimmune issues start to see less flare ups
- improved digestion
- reduced risk of degenerative diseases, like heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and neuropathy, and less periodontal gum disease issues!
- more positive and stable emotions
- less anxiety
- less anger/irritability
- better memory
- better focus/concentration
- greater mental clarity
- lower blood pressure
- healthier skin/sugar is connected to many forms of acne issues
- reduction in headaches including migraines
- reduced muscle/joint pain
- reduced inflammation issues
- improved hormone balance
- relief from PMS and erectile dysfunction
- improved sexual drive/performance
There’s a whole host of benefits attached to walking away from refined and artificial sugars! please don’t think substituting an artificial sugar for the refined sugar is the answer either because most all of those are excito-toxins which have a horrible effect on the central nervous system.
Let me show you some basics “STEPS”. Remember we need to walk before we run!
So where to begin?
- eliminate all refined sugars, high fructose corn syrup, white flour and other refined carbohydrates
- Satisfy your sweet tooth with more natural sugar sources like:
- frush fruit
- dried fruits
- raw honey preferable with the pollen still in place
- real grade A maple syrup
- Stevia (the herb which will be “GREEN” not the “white” form which is over processed)
Xylitol is not a natural sugar per se. What it is is an isolated sugar alcohol that is derived from corn cobs or birch bark.
It contains 40% less calories than sugar and has a low glycemic index and can be used as a one to one ratio in place of table sugar where you don’t want the taste of honey, maple sugar bleeding through your recipe.
Using it to activate yeast however, WONT work.
It naturally carries some antibacterial properties to it so it won’t contribute to cavities which is why it’s now being used in lots of toothpastes and mouthwashes. It can also help inhibit sinus issues and ear infections.
Where are some of the places Sugar is hiding as an additive?
- Beverages: soda, energy drinks, sweetened tea/coffee, fruit juices that are bottled,
- canned fruits
- pasta sauces
- ketchup/BBQ sauces
- salad dressings
- energy bars
- flavored yogurts
- soups/gravy that are canned
- chicken, beef, vegetable broths
- flavored chips that have any sort of coatings for flavor
These are the popular choices, and our health keeps paying a higher price for convenience!
Ok, so what is the second step?
Eat more healthy fats and proteins:
- Good fats reduce appetite and balance blood sugar levels. So good fats include organic butter/cream, coconut oil, Extra virgin olive oil, avocados/nuts
- Avoid processed vegetable oils, margarine and shortening
- Protein intake also helps.
- organic meats
- nuts/nut butters
Refined carbohydrates encourage the growth of yeast and bacteria in our intestines. These are unfriendly foe that send signals to our brain that causes us to crave more sugar. So balancing this which is called dysbiosis in the intestinal tract helps reduce sugar cravings.
How does one start to regain lost ground for improving the good microbes in the gut?Helpful herbs would be:
- Peppermint oil (enteric coated to take in pill form)
- anti-fungal formulas to kill the yeast overgrowth
- fiber supplements to help move the bowels
- probiotics are a MUST!
What helps reduce the cravings, remember sugar is addictive and the body is used to giving into the addiction so many need help with shutting off that signal. Some herbs that have proven to be helpful from a nutritional perspective:
- licorice root
- eleuthero or Korean ginseng
Blood sugar balancers
- Chinese Yin-Increasing formulas
- blood sugar balancing formulas
- single herbs: cinnamon
- bitter melon
- Minerals: Chromium
Ok so in closing, the truth is that many need help walking away from sugar. It’s almost easier for someone to quit drinking alcohol then it is to give up sugar. I mean lets face it you can avoid being in environments where people are drinking if you are trying to give it up. But sugar is everywhere, it’s at every get together, every restaurant, you are bombarded with commercials on television, it’s laced in common food snacks we all have grown to love. Its a real BATTLE!
The best way to approach this is side by side with someone who has had the same battle to overcome! If you are interested in a personalized nutritional program tailored to your specific needs vs. a one size fits all approach. Lets get an appointment scheduled.
Go to http://www.jodibarnett758.com and click on the services tab, pick the desired service and it will take you where you need to begin.
Dr. Jodi Barnett N.D.
Harvested Health LLC