There are all sorts of documentaries on sugar and its various effects. If you do a quick google search on it nearly everything you read will demonise it. Does sugar deserve its reputation though? Here is some food for thought for those who are trying to eat clean.
Added sugars and natural sugars
I’m sure you have heard that natural sugars are okay and added sugar is the enemy. Well, this is partially true, but also totally not true! So let’s clear this up, natural sugars and refined sugars are processed in the same way by your body. So it doesn’t matter if it came from honey or from an actual bag of sugar. Your body simply doesn’t care.
The reason that we say that natural sugars are better is that they usually occur in fruit and vegetables which have a whole host of other nutrients which are good for us. Therefore when it is added just to make something taste sweet it is the “enemy”.
Do we need sugar?
No, not really – however cutting it out altogether is pretty much impossible. It appears in most foods to some extent. However, finding the foods where there is an excessive amount of sugar that simply doesn’t need to be there is key. Fizzy drinks are a big culprit and often contain high amounts of the substance which is included purely to give the drinks a pleasant taste.
The addictive debate
There is some debate over the addictive nature of sugar. Experiments have been carried out on lab rats where they were regularly allowed sugary food and developed an addiction. However, it is important to note that they did not have constant access to sugary treats (which as humans we do) and if they had this might have quelled their addiction.
Studies on humans have shown that the reward centres of the brain “light up” in similar ways to when drug users take drugs. However, there is no concrete suggestion that the white gold has the same addictive qualities that drugs have, certainly not on a chemical level. Debate rages on about the nature of addiction to sugar and how some people feel they are craving it.
How sugar can be bad
Studies have shown that it can have some negative effects beyond making you pile on weight. It can cause wrinkles for instance. 600 men and women were studied and pictures were taken of them. In general, when those pictures were studied by a “blind audience” the people with lower blood sugar were considered to look younger.
Then there is diabetes. Studies have all pointed to sugary foods massively increasing your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
It can also increase your risk of certain cancers – the reason for this may be because sugar spikes your insulin which is responsible for controlling cell growth. Remember cancer occurs when mutated cells grow at a rapid rate.
How to cut down on sugar
Be careful not to swap sugars for carbs! A lot of people will try and cut down on their intake and eat more pasta and bread as a result. These will have a similar negative effect on your body. So be wary! A better substitute is fresh vegetables.
Detoxing from sugar is a big help. Because of the effect sugar can have on you this may well give you withdrawal symptoms such as headaches. These can last from a couple of days through to a few weeks but afterwards, you will not have the cravings anymore.
Key to performing a successful detox is to look out for sneaky sugars. Most foods will contain a little sugar but some surprising foods contain a lot, such as pasta sauces! Read the labels to make sure you don’t undo your hard work.