My bet is that at some point in the last couple years, some of you have tried to go on a “sugar detox” or have gone even further to completely cut sugar out of your diet. Most of us know that sugar is “bad” but without really knowing why, will we ever experience a sustained change our habits with sugar?
In their book “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard,” the Heath brothers explain that our emotional side is like an elephant and our rational side is the rider. In order to create change, you have to motivate the elephant (our emotions), not simply the rider (our rational minds). Motivating the rider without the elephant will result in no change because the elephant will always overpower the rider (1) I hope this brief article will begin to motivate your elephant to help you control the role that sugar plays in your life.
1. Not all Calories are Created Equal
Many sources claim that sugar is the “best” form of energy for your body. “Best” is relative, but it is converted the most easily to usable energy by the body. If you were starving in the desert, sugar would be your best friend. That being said, it is completely void of any nutrients that our bodies need and use AND I don’t think any of us reading this have a problem consuming enough calories. The purpose of eating is to supply our body with what it needs to function properly. Energy is just as important as vitamins and minerals for our bodies to functions. When our diets consist of even 10-20 % calories from sugar, it doesn’t leave room to consume enough nutrients through other foods and deficiencies develop.
2. Insulin Resistance
Excess sugar consumption can result in less efficient insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar by being the transport system to get glucose into our cells for use (and out of the blood). Less efficient insulin causes the pancreas to create more insulin to try to make up for the inefficiency. This leads to what is known as insulin resistance which you probably know leads to metabolic syndrome and a total burn out of the pancreas which is type II diabetes(2)
3. High Fructose Corn Syrup
HFCS is cheaper and sweeter than sugar, making it the most widely used sweetener of food today. High fructose corn syrup is processed differently than sugar (glucose). In short, if the glycogen stores in the liver are already full, HFCS is converted to fat for storage. This can lead to non alcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity(3). Additionally there is evidence that consumption of HFCS can contribute to the development of leaky gut (4).
Two things researchers have found GREATLY contribute to cancer: Inflammation and elevated insulin, both of which occur with overconsumption of sugar. (5)
Sugar causes a release of dopamine in the brain making it an addictive substance and research suggests it’s capable of producing “dependency” making the “everything in moderation “ idea even dangerous for people susceptible to addiction. (6)
These are just a few reasons why sugar is truly dangerous. Whether it becomes your enemy is up to you. I hope that this gives you the motivation to make a lasting change regarding sugar. Don’t let something that offers such a fleeting pleasure to steal your health over time.
by: Katie Koniakowsky
- Heath, C, Heath, D. Chapter 1. In Switch: how to change things when change is hard. New York: Broadway Books; 2010: 7.
- Gunnars, K. 10 Disturbing Reasons Why Sugar is Bad For You. RSS 20. 2013. Available at: http://authoritynutrition.com/10-disturbing-reasons-why-sugar-is-bad/. Accessed February 14, 2016.
- Basaranoglu M, Basaranoglu G, Bugianesi E. Carbohydrate intake and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: fructose as a weapon of mass destruction.Hepatobiliary Surgery and Nutrition. 2015;4(2):109-116. doi:10.3978/j.issn.2304-3881.2014.11.05.
- Hyman, DM. 5 Reasons High Fructose Corn Syrup Will Kill You - Dr. Mark Hyman. Dr Mark Hyman. 2011. Available at: http://drhyman.com/blog/2011/05/13/5-reasons-high-fructose-corn-syrup-will-kill-you/. Accessed February 14, 2016.