Do you ever anxiously go throughout your entire day with one constant, nagging and gnawing thought residing in the back of your mind –‘I NEED SOME SUGAR!’ Finally, when you ‘break down’ and have some of that much needed sugar in any of the luscious forms in which it comes, do you at once feel peaceful and serene in the way that only a true sugar craving can be satisfied? Before you ended your misery and ‘gave in’, did you feel for a moment that you may have just about done anything or went anywhere, whatever the price, if only it were to just lead you to your ideal sugary substance? After getting your ‘sugar fix’ and feeling satisfied for all of five minutes, do you soon find yourself wanting more, and more, AND MORE sugary foods?
If this entire article was devoid of the word ‘sugar’, would you not assume I was talking about a drug- and a very addicting drug at that? All of these symptoms sure sound similar if not exactly the same as the symptoms of a drug addiction. What is it that drugs are doing for us anyhow except to satisfy our unceasing urges? Drugs add no real benefit to our lives or our worlds, outside of the momentary ‘high’. The previous paragraph describes the typical sugar-filled world in which we live. Even if you were to ‘kick the habit’ for a time being- somewhere in the back of your mind, there would always reside the familiar sweet taste, yearning you to seek it out- yet again. It has been said, and proven, that with an addiction, a particular part of the brain is activated- this is true whether it is for alcoholics, cigarette smokers, all drug addicts, or even sugar. If you need sugar to feel alive, it is safe to assume that your body has an unhealthy addiction to sugar.
So, why is it that sugar is SO bad for us anyhow? If you noticed me referring to sugar as a substance in the first paragraph, the following is why: The typical processed white sugar that all of us know as part of the American staple, is not actually food at all- it is very altered from its original form. The sugar cane is a plant that grows in the ground just as any other plant does- it is green on the outside and has white sweet pulp on the inside. During processing, the fiber, vitamin and mineral rich natural sugar cane then becomes a processed tiny, white and grainy ‘substance’ called sugar that our bodies don’t know how to handle. Our bodies don’t know how to handle sugar so much that the end result of having it, especially in mass quantities, is that it has wreaked havoc within our entire body system.
Eating sugar effects our mood, energy, the amount of body fat we have, the health of our veins and arteries, our immune system, our lymph system, our gut health, our teeth, our bodies ability to ward off cancer, and each of our different organs’ health, along with many, many more detailed negative effects within each of those categories. It is a fact based upon how the body system works, that sugar does ‘make you fat’. Sugar forces the body to go through ‘the carb cycle’, which is a simple cascade of bodily events that take place after consuming sugar. When you eat sugar, your pancreas has to pump out an inflammatory hormone called insulin. The blood sugar functions within a very narrow range so that the body is in a constant fight to balance the amount of sugar it has in the bloodstream at any one moment The more sugar there is in the bloodstream, the more insulin that is needed to bring the blood sugar down to an acceptable range for the body to be able to handle.
When the body has a load of sugar to deal with, the body has to guess as to how much insulin it needs at any one moment to get the blood sugar back down to a normal range. What usually happens however, is that too much insulin is pumped into the body therefore bringing the blood sugar down too low, which then makes the body crave more sugar to get the blood sugar back to that acceptable range. The sugar you once again eat is an overabundance for what the bodily needs are once again and the whole cycle happens over. Throughout the cycle, the mood and energy of the body is affected as well with the ‘sugar highs’ and the ‘sugar lows’. What’s interesting is that whenever the hormone insulin is present, the body cannot burn fat. This is how eating sugar ‘makes you fat’.
Eating sugar does more than just ‘make you fat’, however; it also begins the cascade of events that destroy the health of your veins and arteries leading to all forms of heart disease. Since insulin is an inflammatory hormone, and large doses of it in the body are extremely inflammatory, the constant inflammation wears on the delicate veins and arteries. Over time, this inflammation on the veins and arteries becomes worse and worse, getting more red and inflamed. It is at this point that cholesterol comes in to lightly coat the arterial lining as a way of protecting it from getting more red and inflamed. It is because of this, that cholesterol is more a marker of how much inflammation the inside of the body has as compared to anything else.
Sugar will also feed the ‘bad’ yeast and bacteria in the body, making the body more susceptible to poor gut health, yeast infections, and urinary tract infections. Sugar has also been said to ‘feed’ cancer. Sugar will corrode the teeth by allowing the wrong kinds of bacteria to stick to it, and poor mouth health in turn affects the health of the rest of the body. Sugar affects your emotional well-being as well, with depression being an after effect of consuming the sweet goodness. Low energy will develop too in the after math of sugar use since it plays a role in lessening the amount of available oxygen your body is able to use. Sugar will also start to interfere too much with the immune and lymph systems, increasing the bodies likelihood of breaking down and getting sick- whether minor and temporary sickness, or more serious and long-term illness.
So how do you feel now about the sweetened sugar cereal to start off your day and the regular soda pop at lunch? Or how about that nightly bowl of ice cream after finding out precisely what the sugar in it does to the inside of your body? Don’t come down on yourself too hard- the first step is knowledge. Now that you understand and realize these habits are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle- you can change. The change needs to be realistic and happen over enough time to allow both the mind and body to adjust. Also, don’t put too much concern into how your past choices have affected your present day health- this is useless negative energy and will only hold you back instead of helping to move you forward. The body is an amazing machine and can start to heal if given the correct tools- healthy nutrition and lifestyle.
Eating sugar is a habit, and a bad one at that, but as with any habit, it needs to be conquered and replaced one step at a time. During the time before your new healthy habit is formed, you will need some help in getting there. People with the most success achieving the health they want usually do have some type of support system. Do not underestimate the value of working with a skilled and trained professional in order to help break down the realistic steps you’d need to take to get to your goal and work with you along the way until you are there. Also important, is the solid support that can come from friends and family members. Most important- don’t be afraid to take that first step! ‘The longest journey begins with a single step’.