It’s no secret that refined sugar is something that needs to be consumed in moderation.
Our foods are packed full of it and to avoid eating it takes dedication in checking food labels and learning how it is hidden in foods.
Even then, it often takes discipline and commitment to say no when presented with a muffin or sweet treat. Since our bodies use carbohydrates as fuel, our brains are wired to enjoy sugar and that makes resisting it even harder.
When I was on my own journey of reducing sugar in my life, the act of willpower alone did not work.
What worked was learning what sugar was doing to my body. When I got a clear picture of the devastation it was performing on my insides and my brain, it was then that I was willing to put in the work to quit sugar.
The big question is, what is it about sugar that is so detrimental to your health and your body?
Let’s take a look.
Inflammation In All It’s Miserable Glory
Have you ever felt like your brain was in a fog and you couldn’t think clearly? Do you miss the days when you felt mentally clear and sharp when thoughts formed quickly and without much effort?
If so, you most likely are dealing with inflammation. Inflammation can present in many, many ways but some of the most common are brain fog, achy or stiff joints, depression, and fatigue.
Sugar is notorious for contributing to inflammation in the body and the brain, and with the amount of sugar being consumed by Americans on a daily basis it’s no wonder that people are constantly complaining of sluggishness, brain fog, and depression.
Sugar Escalates Aging
Did you know that consuming refined sugar can make you age faster?
Sugar messes with your collagen production, causing your skin to lose some of its elasticity. It also contributes to acne and is dehydrating which leads to more wrinkles and dry skin.
A large contributor to sugar consumption is sugary drinks. Iced coffees, sugary teas, and sodas are all jam-packed full of sugar. In fact, the numbers are staggering with 63% of teens and 49% of adults drinking sugar-laden beverages on a daily basis.
If you’re looking for clearer skin and a way to age slower, try cutting down on your sugar intake by replacing your sugary drinks with ones that are less toxic such as lemon water, herbal teas, or carbonated water with a splash of flavor added.
Is Sugar Addiction Real?
The subject of sugar addiction is a controversial one. While some say that sugar doesn’t react in the brain as a hard drug does, others say that the dependence is just as strong.
When speaking of drug addiction, we are referring to an actual altering of brain chemistry that compels an individual to continue using the substance despite the harmful consequences.
The link between sugar and addiction is the fact that sugar releases dopamine and opioids into our bodies. This gives you that delightful “high” feeling and makes you want to re-experience it over and over again.
But the more you experience it the more your brain adapts to the amount of dopamine released, forcing you to repeat the behavior more often to feel the same satisfaction.
There is study after study that supports sugar as being an addictive substance and if you talk to anyone who has tried to completely cut sugar out of their lives, they will most likely tell you how incredibly difficult and nearly impossible it is to do.
Sugar Causes Disease
Over time, the inflammation that plagues your body will end up being the main contributor to diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and fatty liver disease.
One of the best ways to combat the inflammation in the first place is to avoid refined sugar and replace it with nutrient-dense foods.
So What Can You Do?
Quitting sugar, or at least cutting back, can look like a daunting task. Making small, consistent changes will make it an easier process and one that will be sustainable over the long haul.
Here are a few tips that might make the process easier.
- Get rid of anything in your house that will be a temptation and replace it with a healthier option that you will eat.
- Use fruit as snacks instead of processed food.
- Start your day with protein. It will keep you full and satisfied longer and will not spike your blood sugar.
- Don’t be afraid to eat healthy fats. Fats help control your blood sugar levels and will keep you fuller longer.
- If you crave that serotonin high, replace sugar with exercise. You’ll get the boost without the guilt.
- Replace sugar-heavy beverages with flavored water or teas. If you like the carbonation, throw some flavoring in carbonated water.
- Prioritize sleep. Getting plenty of rest will help you make better decisions and diminish cravings.
There is no question that the consumption of refined sugar is doing tremendous damage to our brains and our bodies. By making a few small changes that develop into habits over time we can improve our quality of life and our longevity.
I think you’ll find that the benefits you reap will far outweigh the fleeting pleasure you get from eating sugar.
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