Why sugar is bad – the dumbed down version

First and foremost, let me get the formality out of the way: Happy New Year! 

Mine was suuuuuper low key, and I loved it! No pressure to have a good time when you don’t 100% feel like it. And we didn’t really feel like it. There was apartment hunting stress, job hunting stress and the stress of the weather being so unusually nice in Vancouver that there has only been one major snow fall since we arrived. Doesn’t bode well for the Mr getting full time hours like we’d banked on.

Anyhow, onwards and upwards. We weren’t Debbie downers, we just didn’t have the cash to blow on copious drinks or even a dinner out and Scott had to work at 7am on the 1st.

I hope, whatever you did, that you rang in the new year without hassle.

I didn’t make a resolution this year because I don’t really buy into it, too much pressure to please myself 🙂 But I did decide to quit sugar. It got a bit tough last night when Scott appeared out of our room, munching on something. I absent mindedly asked him what he was eating and he told me “a mountain” which is what I started calling the individual triangles of the giant toblerone he gets each Christmas a while back. Two years ago, I pretty much ate his entire giant toblerone before he could look at it. This year I hid it in a draw before new years to help myself with the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality I have adopted to help curb the cravings. 

I am proud to say that I did not give in to temptation and eat more than my share of “mountains”. Instead he made me a licorice tea. Naturally sweet and there’s no sugar! I keep reading the ingredients on the box to see if somehow they snuck some sugar in. They didn’t, we’re good.

The reason for this sugar kicking kick? Well, it’s not because I want to jump on a bandwagon (though you may think so since I have tried and blogged about other bandwagonny type behaviours…Paleo. Ahem… Gluten Free… cough cough), but because I have a number of health issues that are a constant work in progress and I feel as if sugar might be a contributing factor to the slow, but steady, decline of my health.

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A year ago, I guess the “quit sugar” craze kinda became big, or at least, made it’s way under my nose. I didn’t take too much notice because how on earth could you expect me to not eat chocolate or cookies or have fanta with my popcorn at the movies??!! I wasn’t ready to even consider giving it up even though I knew it was bad for me. I guess I knew it was bad for me, but I didn’t know exactly why. After reading “Sweet Poison” by David Gillespie and being half way through “I quit sugar” by Sarah Wilson, I am fairly convinced by the science behind it all. In large, day to day quantities, sugar is not yo friend, son! Sure, everything in moderation blah blah blah but I don’t seem to do moderation so well. I am convinced I am addicted to sugar and it’s one of the reasons, perhaps one of the main reasons I can be heard saying “I’m ALWAYS hungry” and “why am I still hungry? I just ate!”

If you couldn’t get your head around the first eight chapters of “Sweet Poison” and Sarah Wilson’s Cosmopolitan styled “e-book” wasn’t your cup of tea, here are the facts dumbed down.

I won’t bore you with the science, but basically all foods are broken down in the body and become any combination of three sugars: glucose, galactose and fructose.  The first two you’re safe with – they give your body usable energy. The last one, not so much. In a nutshell, the body has no need for fructose. The liver is the only organ that can do anything with it, but on a very tiny scale compared to the other two (which are used for energy for all your day to day activities like breathing and getting up to go to the fridge). Since the liver can only do a weeny bit with the fructose it’s all like “be gone fructose, into the blood stream with you!” Then when it’s in the blood it turns into fatty acids and starts clogging up your arteries and shit and after years and years of being conditioned to just accept fructose in all it’s glory your body is all like “here comes Mr Heart Attack” and “oops, was that a stroke?” oh and “heeey, you have cardiovascular disease” or the evil they are calling “late on-set diabetes”. 

All super fun sounding things, right? Mmmmhmmm, if you like dying, or living with a breathing tube, or having your leg cut off because your blood got so toxic that it just starting rotting your limbs and you have to inject yourself all day long and your kidney starts to shut down and you rely on dialysis to keep you alive and you are popping more pills than Ozzy Osbourne in his hey day just to keep your toxic body functioning. Cancer, did I mention cancer? Cancer feeds off fructose. No shit, I’m not trying to scare you into quitting my telling you lies, I’m trying to scare you into it because IT. IS. BAD. FOR. YOU!

And fruit? Yeah… fruit is kinda bad too. Unless it’s restricted to two small serves a day of the lower sugar fruits. Back in the day, before sugar was cool, human beings only stumbled upon fruit once in a while as they wandered the land. So they ate it in abundance because they needed the extra energy and the body was happy to store it as fat because as they continued to wander, they might not have been able to source food for a few days in which case the body took energy from the fat stores and it was burnt away; keepin’ those humans trim and able. And honey? Natural yes, but still becomes fructose in the body. Also something else that wandering humans didn’t get their hands on easily. Trying to get the honey from the bees wasn’t as easy as it is nowadays thanks to the miracles of modern technology and bee keeping suits. Again, not something that was as readily available as it is today. Fruit is jammed down our throats because it’s deemed as healthy, don’t get me wrong, it is healthy. Just not when it’s juiced and you consume the equivalent of four oranges/apples in one go, or as handfuls of fruit blended up into a smoothie with fruit juice or sweetened yoghurt. Fruit juice contains no fibre, it’s only water, fructose (labelled as sugars) and vitamin C. Try eating four apples in one go. I dare you.

Fruit is the lesser evil of all the sugars in our food though. The beauty of fruit is that it contains fibre that helps to sweep the fructose out of our bodies faster as it doesn’t go straight to the liver and get released directly into our blood. Fibre helps to fill you up as well so you’re less likely to chow down on four apples. Fruit juice slides down so nicely and makes you feel happy and then want MORE!!!

Oh and a fun fact if you’re a lady: estrogen is your friend. Scientists are unsure why, but estrogen helps to block the effects (somewhat) of fructose before menopause. The incidence of heart attacks, cardiovascular disease and “late on-set diabetes” in pre-menoapausal woman is not as high as it is in men of the same age, but numbers spike higher after menopause. Depending on how much fructose you consume, you might be safe now but ya better watch out later on!! You have been warned.

Another reason fructose is bad, and probably the main reason, is because it allows your body to think it hasn’t eaten as much as it has. For example, out of 400ml of juice that you consume, the body can only deal with about 138ml of that, leaving the rest to just head straight to your blood. 250ml orange juice has 21g of sugar in it, all of which is fructose. So after the 138ml that your body can deal with, the other just over a cup of OJ is heading straight for your blood and gram for gram, being converted to fat. 

Having a fizzy drink (soda), a fruit juice or any other kind of sugar (the kind that is injected into that fast food bread bun) with a meal means that your body is being tricked into thinking you haven’t eaten as much, allowing you to eat more – clever fast food companies know this and that’s why the drink was included into combos. It’s not just a coincidence people! They’re smarter than us!! 😉 The fructose in the sugar your drink/bun contains shuts off the mechanism in your brain that tells you when to stop eating. It’s a sneaky bastard and it tells lies, who needs that in their life? It also tells your pancreas to send out more insulin into the blood to handle the intake of sugar, causing spikes in energy and also scrambling your hormones making them all confused as to when they are to be released and in what quantities and just generally mixing shit up and making you feel like crap. This doesn’t just happen while you are eating sugar, it happens afterwards as well because your body is accustomed to getting that sweetness it’s addicted to. Thanks to the release of dopamine (the feel good hormone) when one consumes sugar. You can research this yourself at a later date before I get too off topic.

Sugar can give you energy and has it’s place in our diet, but from sources like root vegetables rather than fruit and only in small quantities. If you eat the right foods, like vegetables, healthy fats and proteins, then your body will maintain it’s natural blood sugar level and make you less likely to crave the quick fix of processed sugar/fructose and the empty energy it provides. It’s a treat. Treat it as a treat. When your body is maintaining it’s natural blood sugar level, you are also less likely to over eat because the mechanism in your brain that tells you when you are full will kick in at the right time meaning less intake and using food to fuel you rather than fool you.

I’m giving up sugar because I want to have more energy (without the help of fructose), maintain a healthy weight and let my body be the amazing machine that it can be rather than waking every morning feeling heavy and lethargic. I used to eat barely any sugar back in my early 20s and that was the time I could remember feeling like I didn’t feel like shit on a regular basis. Being in my late 20s now, I don’t quite think that I can entirely blame my age for feeling less than great. 

I will probably not completely entirely quit sugar forever and ever and never ever eat it, amen. I am still human after all. It just won’t be a daily thing, hidden in the foods I took for granted (the gluten free crackers I like so much) as having no sugar. It adds up SO quickly when the max daily allowance of sugar is 5tsps. Plus I hear if you quit it cold turkey you can lose your hair… Though I think this is a very sensationalised report of what sugar can do, it has to be done with thought and work for you, the individual. Do your research and be smart about it. Don’t beat yourself up for eating it – just remember, birthday cakes are for birthdays. Not every day.

 

 

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2 responses to “Why sugar is bad – the dumbed down version

  1. Good luck with it! I’m going to give it a go myself as David Gillespie also had me convinced!

    • Awesome! I’m on day 11 and the heartburn that used to plague me has subsided substantially, whether or not it’s because sugar was in other foods that set the heartburn off, I don’t know but I’m happy it’s gone! Getting a bit harder to resist, especially at those times I don’t have snacks near me and I’m really hungry. Good luck!! And thanks for reading 🙂

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