The Not-So-Sweet Truth About Sugar (Part 1)

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Remember those days where your mother would get mad at you for sneaking 1 or 2 cookies behind her back? It always seemed like such a drag because the cookies tasted so good and were so fun to eat. On top of the excitement of sneaking into the snack cupboard, why as a kid could you never get enough cookies? You even remember the times with your siblings or friends, where you made yourself sick pigging out on sweets.

You never really understood why as a kid, although…chances are, you had a sugar overdose.

Wait, what? Yea, that’s a thing. You can even die from it… that’s if you eat 13.5 grams of sugar for every pound of your body weight, which would be impressive if someone can manage to shovel that much sugar filled food into their mouth in one time period. With all extreamalties aside, you’re probably getting the hint that sugar isn’t very good for you. But wait, fruit has sugar and fruit is healthy? Right. All sugar isn’t bad for you… but it’s important to know the differences and how each type reacts with your body.

Before we jump in talking about the added sugars (added in a lot more products than we think), let’s break down the different types of sugars and what they do to your body. Sugar in general, is something that our bodies need. It helps power our cells, and with it we can store energy for later and convert it into fuel. This is the good type of sugar, and chemically speaking… there are many types; glucose, fructose, sucrose – the bad guy (which is glucose + fructose), maltose (glucose + glucose), galactose and lactose (galactose + glucose), found in dairy. Sugars are considered a carbohydrate, so therefore it all breaks down to how your body digests what types of sugars to decifier if it’s good or bad for you. 

Your body requires at least 130 milligrams of carbohydrates to function properly. This means that you can include the sugars that are naturally found in fruits, vegetables and grains to account for these carbohydrates.When you add in processes sugars (the bad guy), the body  breaks down refined sugar rapidly, causing high levels of insulin and blood sugar levels. The reason this doesn’t happen with fruits or other types of natural sugars, is because there are other things absorbed with them aiding in your digestion, such as fiber with fruits which causes digestion to slow down, and of course nurtures your body with necessary fibers and sugars – instead of only raising your insulin levels and giving you no nutritional value.

So now that we’ve sorted out the good and bad sugar, let’s expand on what happens if you eat too much refined or processed sugars. Since high levels of processed sugar creates high blood sugar levels, itincreases risks of acne, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. The levels of high blood sugars create high blood pressure, in addition to weight gain and inflammation. This means that these problems in your body will affect how your body works, thus making it more susceptible to “not work right.”

When insulin (which is  a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels), levels are high it creates inflammation – so along with high blood sugar (+insulin) and inflammation, this makes you susceptible to acne, diabetes (which is a disease directly related to blood sugar levels), and cancer. High blood sugar levels cause the body to create more insulin, which becomes problematic when your body developsinsulin resistance. This means that eating too much processed sugar (that rapidly creates insulin), your body responds by creating too much insulin (also at a rapid speed), and the result? Well, if this is kept up for a long time, your cells will be damage, and therefore insulin resistant. But, what happens when your blood sugar levels keep rising, and your body cannot keep up? That’s when serious diseases (mentioned above) start to take place, and they can be life long.

Now, before we make you second guess every grain of sugar you consumer, let’s break down how much sugar is healthy, and what foods are loaded with refined sugars, and what you can substitute for those as well.

The World Health Organization recommends that less than 5% of our sugar we intake is added processed sugar. Makes sense, right? So sticking to mainly fruits and vegetables as our sources of sugar is the most ideal… but what happens when it’s your birthday and you want to have cake, or you’re visiting your grandma and she cracks open her tin of cookies? You go for it! The amount of sugar in a small piece of desert is less harmful than a sugary soft drink, or loaded sauces you put on every meal, that likely won’t make you feel full.

Foods that contain high amounts of sugar are low-fat yogurt, bottled fruit juices and smoothies, bottles sauces (like BBQ, Ketchup and Spaghetti Sauce), sweet drinks, such as sports drink, flavored coffee, and cereals and granola. Most times, these are marketed as “healthy,” when actually they contain quite a lot of sugar. Instead, it’s important to read ingredients and see where sugar ends up on the list, or try to avoid it all together.

Although, cravings for sugar are definitely real. It actually has addictive properties as it can be a mood-booster as it prompts the body to release the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin into the bloodstream. This creates the need and want to feel these hormones again, thus indulging in sugar again. Although, once your body has had it’s needed intake of sugars, it starts to store the excess sugar as fat, compared to using it for energy. So, overdosing on sugar is not only detrimental for your health, it is the reason behind those few extra pounds.

So now that you know the the good sugars, the bad sugars and the qualities – where do you start?

Our next post includes 10 sugar-free, gluten-free breakfast recipes and desserts, since breakfast and desserts seem to be the most sugar-packed. Buying quality ingredients, such as natural maple syrup and natural honey will guarantee you’re getting the good sugars, and not the refined types. Next time you’re at the supermarket, pay attention to the labels… you’ll realize that limiting you sugar intake is easy, and has a super-sweet pay off!

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