Health and Diet

Sugar – the sickening truth

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Sugar makes us fat and sick

Literally, I am not exaggerating. If you want to do something RIGHT NOW to greatly improve your health, reduce or eliminate your consumption of processed sugar.

Does this seem like an impossible task? Does the thought of cutting out sugar give you heart palpitations? That is not surprising, sugar is also extremely addictive. It is more addictive than cocaine.

I thought I was doing pretty good in the “no sugar” department. I have come a long way from the days of putting 3 teaspoons of sugar in my coffee. But a recent no sugar challenge I participated in was a reality check. Careful product label examination revealed sugar in my mayonnaise. Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous.

The truth is I got complacent. As long as the label said “GMO free”, I sometimes let it slide. (GMO’s are at the top of my list of things to avoid when grocery shopping. But that topic deserves it’s own post. The bottom line is I don’t trust trans genetically modified food).

The Fed Up 10 day challenge was truly a wake up call for me, a reminder that I need to be strict about the amount of sugar I consume every day. It all adds up.

Fed Up is a documentary about the harmful effects of sugar. I watched it years ago and recently watched it again for the second time. It was heartbreaking to watch obese children cry as they discussed their struggle with losing weight. It was frustrating to watch parents try to help their children lose weight by giving them what they thought were “healthy foods”. A typical breakfast of orange juice (5.5 tsp sugar), and  cereal (3 tsp sugar) nearly surpasses the recommended dietary allowance of added sugar, (6-9 tablespoons).

What, you never heard of the RDA for sugar? That’s not by accident, it is purposely not included on food labels.

(Oh and the part about our government considering pizza to be a vegetable will make your head spin).

I was aware of many of the facts mentioned in the documentary. I KNEW sugar was the problem and not calorie consumption and exercise. The human body is a complex biological machine, with intricate biochemical feedback loops. The idea that a calories is just a calorie is not only dated, it is scientifically inaccurate. Sugar from processed food, without fiber, will be absorbed quickly by the body, spiking the blood sugar, and stored into fat.  I knew this because I had my own lovely experience with sugar and weight gain.

It was around 6 years ago. My husband and I moved to Korea in a hurry. It was rushed. He got the job, and flew there weeks after his first interview. I had to finish my job, tie up loose ends, and move the rest of our stuff into storage.

It was STRESSFUL.

It was also adventurous and fun, but still stressful. Neither one of us spoke Korean so we ate a lot of “not so nutritious” food the first few months. I was given a rice cooker, so rice became a staple food.

So in a short few months I gained a little bit of weight. I am normally a thin and fit person, so 8-10 pounds might not sound like a big deal. But it was a big deal to me.

Once I learned a little Korean, it was easier to go grocery shopping. I started to eat healthier foods and I exercised more. But I STILL had a difficult time with the weight loss.

At one point I was working out 4 days a week and it still didn’t seem to make a difference. That honestly made me mad. It was frustrating to work that hard and not SEE the difference. I tried to tell myself muscle weighs more than fat but I knew something else was going on.

Then I read Tim Ferris’s book “The Four Hour Body” and everything clicked. In the book he explained why a calorie is not just a calorie, and how preventing your blood sugar from rising above a threshold is the key to weight loss. When it comes to weight loss, nutrition is more important than exercise.

I followed the “Four Hour Body” plan and the weight literally melted away in less than 2 weeks. (I think it was 10 days). I hardly exercised at all during that time. (No more than 10 minutes a day. I did Kettle Bell exercises and stomach muscle pulls he calls the “cat vomit”).

It was only 8-10 pounds but for me it was fantastic. I was back to my ideal weight and I felt great about it. I also had the knowledge of how to lose weight without any special shakes or nutritional supplements.

Knowledge is power.

Though sugar is the main culprit, other foods will spike the blood sugar, sending biochemical signals to the body, telling it to convert sugar to fat right away.

The “Four Hour Body” plan is actually very strict. No dairy, no bread, you are not even allowed fruit for 6 days. It is similar to the Paleo diet but sweet potatoes and potatoes are not 4HB legal. On day 7 you get to go crazy. You can literally eat whatever you want, the sky is the limit. (This is supposed to reset your metabolism, which will slow down if you are not eating enough).

I personally do not recommend doing extreme binging on day 7. I went a little over the top on the cheat days sometimes and felt horrible the day after. (I was very lethargic). It is interesting to see the effects blood sugar spikes have on your energy. However, sugar is addictive, and if you are not careful, the sweet tooth can come back very quickly.

Another fun fact about sugar, it can weaken your immune system. (It literally can increase your chance of getting sick. It’s not a coincidence that many people get sick after the holidays).

One teaspoon of sugar can suppress the immune system for 4 hours. Source

This is one of the many reasons I do not let my daughter drink soda, there is no benefit and it actually harms the body.

So sugar makes us fat, it is addictive, and it also makes us sick.

But wait, there’s more ….

Did you know that most of us suffer from magnesium deficiency? I know I was, it was one of the reasons I had morning sickness when I was pregnant. Why is this important? Magnesium is needed for 325 enzymatic reactions, and helps calcium get incorporated into the bones. Source

That is just the tip of the iceberg. I highly recommend reading Dr. Carolyn Dean’s book, “The Magnesium Miracle“. Magnesium is a very important mineral.

Why did I mention this in a post about sugar? It is because sugar is also a thief, it steals magnesium from your body. Sugar can deplete your magnesium supply –  Source

So if you have suffered from a sugar addiction for years, your body is probably deficient in magnesium.

I found magnesium spray to be very helpful in replenishing my magnesium reserves. I like Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil.

So there are many reasons to avoid sugar. If you are skeptical of the safety of genetically modified foods, then it would interest you to know that most sugar is made from GMO sugar beets.

The 10 day Fed Up challenge was a great experience. If this information is new to you, then you should check out the movie Fed Up. Every now and then I need to keep myself in check by doing a challenge like this because you really have to be VIGILANT to avoid sugar. It is literally in most packaged foods, even the “healthy” ones. I am grateful to my friends who organized and participated in the challenge. I urge you to try a challenge like it. There are many of them out there. Get in a group because the moral support does help and just do it. You will feel better, your skin will be clearer, your weight will be easy to control, food will taste better, your immune system will be stronger, and your dental bills will go down too.

Seriously, what are you waiting for?

Here are 10 tips to help you overcome your sugar addiction. I will point out that number 8 is to “enjoy fermented food and drinks”. Fermented foods have definitely helped me break my sugar addiction and they have so many other health benefits. They have changed my life and inspired to to write this blog.

Have you ever tried a “no sugar” challenge? How did it affect you?

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    […] Avoiding Sugar Sugar can suppress the immune system. (link). Obviously, you want your immune system working at full capacity when you are already sick. […]

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