Sugar: the white death. The processed poison. The toxic threat.In the last 20 years, we have increased our sugar intake from 26 pounds a year to 180 pounds of sugar per year today. This is not surprising, as sugar takes on many forms, and the sucrose, dextrose, and high-fructose corn syrup now found in a wide variety of foods are making their way into the bellies of the unsuspecting public through processed products and even foods you wouldn’t expect to contain sugar.
In her book Discover the Power of Food, Janet Jacks states: “Of course, most of us are aware that we, as a society, are eating too much sugar. When we look statistics squarely in the eye, the trend is staggering: the average American eats 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. And the average child? Even more, at 32 teaspoons a day. Over the last decade, sugar consumption jumped 23%. Since 1900, it has increased by 3000%. And, it seems, there is no end in sight.”
We’re going to start looking at sugar closely: why it’s so dangerous, what it can do to your health, and 10 shocking reasons that may make you want to avoid the white substance for good.
While years ago we consumed much less white sugar, today, it’s in a multitude of foods, especially processed, fast, and fake foods. From salad dressings and sauces to packaged baked goods and even to the “healthy” smoothies you get from fast food drive-thrus, sugar is almost everywhere around us. (Don’t worry: the smoothies we make at Goodness Me! are free of added sugar and artificial sweeteners!)
In fact, as Janet Jacks states inDiscover the Power of Food, “a can of soda pop contains nine to ten teaspoons of sugar, while a giant 64-ouncer you might find at the movie theater has 53 teaspoons. These shocking excesses play havoc not only with your blood sugar, but also with your metabolism that must process all that sugar.” Still want to drink that can of pop?
You might think that kicking the sugar habit is difficult, since it is in so many packaged foods. The key here, though, is to enjoy natural, whole foods: produce, meats, raw cheeses, certain grains and legumes, beans, and other foods that you would find in their natural state–foods that even our great, great, great, great, great grandparents enjoyed. These foods are naturally free of refined white sugar, and will do our bodies a world of good. That’s why at Goodness Me!, we commit to a 100% refined-sugar-free environment, period.
So, if we’re getting rid of sugar, what can we replace it with? Sucanat, coconut sugar, maple syrup, raw honey, and steviaare all great, healthier sweetener options. And you don’t need a lot! Once you start cutting out the foods that contain sugar, and using these more natural sources, you’ll start using less and your taste for sweetness will adjust, almost like magic. Try them out! We have lots of recipes on our blog that use these natural sweeteners.
If you’re still not convinced that sugar does not have a place in your diet, here are 10 reasons why you should kick it to the curb. Note that there are actually hundreds more reasons – these are just 10 that we thought are the most important. Have you kicked your sugar habit? What benefits did you notice?
Sugar produces high insulin and stores fat. When simple sugars flood the bloodstream with too much glucose, there is often a temporary feeling of euphoria. The pancreas produces high levels of insulin which, because you cannot use such excessive glucose, clears it from the bloodstream and stores it away as fat. This fat, over time, settles around our abdomen and becomes the hard-to-lose weight that so much of us struggle with.
Sugar messes with our hormones, moods, and attention. Because of the impact sugar has on our insulin and blood sugar, we often experience crashes after we’ve consumed something with sugar. This is a result of the sugar having no use in the body, and being stored away. After this, we feel irritable, moody, tired, and unfocused. Cravings for more sugar follow, and the cycle repeats itself. You may think that chocolate bar is giving you the boost you need in the afternoon, but it’s actually going to make you more tired, irritable, and unproductive.
Sugar creates acidity in the body. We want our body to be in a more alkaline state so that all of its processes can function properly. When we are acidic, we feel tired, groggy, have less energy, get headaches, and generally feel unwell. It causes us to feel the need to detox to rebalance the scales. Enjoy a more alkaline body by avoiding sugar!
Sugar suppresses the immune system, making it more difficult for the body to defend itself. If you notice that you are regularly getting sick, or you find it hard to get over colds and flus easily, sugar could be the culprit. It actually shuts down your immune system, so any viral attackers or invaders are able to take hold more easily. If you feel yourself getting sick, definitely avoid sugar so that you can prevent the illness from taking hold. But avoiding sugar on a regular basis will decrease your likelihood of getting sick in the first place!
Sugar promotes accelerated aging, which includes the look of your skin and the increase in wrinkles. We all want to age gracefully and reduce the look of lines and wrinkles. Not only does sugar wreak havoc on your body internally, causing distress akin to aging, but it actually accelerates the aging process of your skin as well, causing free radical damage.
Sugar increases your likelihood of degenerative diseases such as diabetes and dementia, and inflammatory conditions such as heart disease and cancer. We don’t think this point needs any further explanation! Avoiding sugar can help reduce your risk of these and many other diseases.
Sugar can impact your digestion negatively. In fact, it’s said to be the number 1 enemy of bowel movements. Why? Processed, refined sugar cannot be broken down easily by the body into digestible, usable components like fibre, fat, and protein. Your body then stores the sugar as fat or tries to eliminate it. But if it’s not being digested well, or broken down, then it doesn’t become eliminated easily, either. Ever notice that you feel bloated, gassy, or crampy after eating a sugary dessert or having too many sugary beverages? This is why!
Sugar can exacerbate PMS symptoms for many women. Even though the stereotype is to reach for chocolate and sugary foods when you have PMS symptoms, this will actually make your symptoms (like moodiness, cramping, bloating, and digestive issues… all of which we discussed above) much worse! Instead, enjoy some 80% dark chocolate or a warming tea for some comfort, and take some magnesium– which is great for reliving cramps.
Sugar can slow down the ability of the adrenal glands to function.Your adrenal glands are the masters of many of your hormones, including your stress hormones. If your adrenals can’t function well, your ability to handle stress plummets and you can become stressed and overwhelmed more easily. In time, this leads to burnout and a myriad of other health issues. Avoid this by resisting sugar and learning about natural ways to deal with stress and adrenal fatigue in our free guide here!
Sugar can adversely affect school childrens’ grades and cause learning disorders.This is because it interrupts our ability to focus and be productive, as well as wreaking havoc with our hormonal, adrenal, and mood symptoms. If you want your kids to perform better in school and learn more, sugar is something that has to go! This goes for adults, too, at work or at home.
There you have it – 10 reasons to kick sugar to the curb today. There are so many more reasons, which you can ask us about or read about on our blog here, but the point of the matter is: avoid sugar. Replace it with healthier alternatives. And enjoy the health that follows!
Katie has worked in the natural health & wellness industry for over 10 years and is currently studying to become a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She is passionate about eating #feelgood food and recognized that this might look different for each and every person. She truly believes that in a healthy lifestyle, you can have your cake and eat your kale, too! Follow her on Instagram @katielmitts