Why Sugar Is Not Good For Your Body If You Want to Lose Weight

What sugar can do to your body?

You are aware that too much sugar is not good for your health. Sugar has been shown to promote fat storage and weight gain, impair immune system, increases blood sugar and induces oxidative stress in the body. Increased consumption of sugar sweetened beverages is highly associated with obesity.

How sugar gets stored in our bodies

Sugar stimulates a fat-storing hormone called insulin, which is secreted by your pancreas. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body secretes and that means you gain more and more fat. The favourite spot where insulin likes to store this fat is the stomach. I’m sure you have seen many guys with these big bellies (aka “pot or beer belly”) walking around.

How sugar appears in our food

Sugar comes in different forms in our foods. This is how the food industry adds sugar into the food since there are numerous synonyms for sugar. Next time you go shopping, watch out for some of these words on the food labels:

  • Sucrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • Syrup
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Hydrolyzed starch
  • Maple syrup
  • maltodextrin, etc.

If you are serious about your health and also want to lose weight eat less food with all the ingredients mentioned above. Here is an important message that you must always remember: ‘Do not drink your sugar, Eat your sugar’.

When you drink sugar in a liquid form, especially sugar containing beverages (including fruit juices) we tend to drink more which result in taking too much calories. This will lead to overeating resulting into weight gain, insulin resistance and elevated triglycerides.

How should you eat your sugar?

The best thing you can do for yourself is to try and avoid sugar sweetened beverages since they contain too many calories that will quickly feel your stomach. Rather eat your sugar from natural, whole foods such as fruits because when you consume sugar from fruits you are also consuming other nutrients including fiber. Fiber will slow down the sugar uptake in your blood stream, preventing insulin from spiking so that you don’t store too much fat.

Here is another take home message:

Your body can only use carbohydrates once they are broken down and converted into sugar in your body. It is important to cut down on high carbohydrates foods such as pasta, rice, bread to ensure that you do not gain extra pound!

How to Deal With Sugar Cravings?

Sugar if taken in excess is bad for health. Sugar is taken in many forms – raw sugars, sweets, chocolates. Most people have a sweet tooth. Some crave for it. They eat a lot of it, which affects their health. They are prone to obesity, Diabetes and other sugar related problems. How do they get over these cravings?

How to Overcome Sugar Cravings?

  • Recognize and acknowledge your problem, that you crave for sugar
  • Develop the instinct to eat plenty of salads. Go in for a vegetarian diet
  • Reduce the intake of sweets. Avoid them completely if your are suffering from sugar related health problems
  • Avoid junk food. Tasting them means, you would like to have more of them
  • Avoid sugary drinks. Have hot sugarless tea or coffee as substitutes to relax. Lemon tea is good. Replace high- sugar drinks with low carbohydrate drinks
  • Do exercises if you have cravings. Instead of eating something sweet go for a walk
  • One can go in for adrenal supplements
  • Increase your will power
  • Replace sweets with other foods
  • More protein intake reduces sugar cravings
  • Eat more fiber and healthy fats
  • Cut down on daily calorie intake
  • Do not skip meals as this may increase the cravings
  • Do not keep high calorie sweets in the house
  • Keep your meals simple. The more side dishes you have the more cravings you will have and tend to overeat
  • Choose side dishes with a sweet taste. If you satiety your cravings for sugar, you will eat less of sweets etc
  • Taste a little bit to overcome the feeling of having a sweet or two

Craving for sugar needs to be overcome as it could lead to serious health problems. One needs to make dietary changes and take healthy substitutes for sugary products.

10 Ways to Use Food As a Wonder-Drug for Mental Health

The 10 Rules of Food and Mood

In an astonishing study, UK mental health charity Mind found that making basic changes to diet can significantly reduce and in some cases totally eliminate the symptoms of mental illness. This includes anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. If you want to harness the power of food to become happier and reduce symptoms of mental ill health, follow as many of the following rules as you can.

1. Hydrate

Many of us spend most of our time being a bit dehydrated without realising it. We often mistake this low level thirst for hunger, so we snack instead of drink.

Ideally we should all be drinking eight medium sized glasses of water a day, or around 2 litres. Start small, aiming for 3 or 4 glasses / 1 litre a day and slowly crank it up over time.

Props can help – buying bottles of mineral water or always having a full jug and glass on your desk. Also, if the tap water in your area tastes bad, adding a bit of concentrated lemon juice makes it better. Also a filter jug can make tap water a whole lot nicer.

2. Cut Sugar

The sugar industry is a multi billion pound business. Just like the tobacco industry denied it posed any hard to health, there is too much profit to be made from sugar for the truth about how harmful it is to health, including mental health, to be fully recognised yet in public.

Because sugary food is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream it causes blood sugar spikes that can cause mood imbalance. Sugar also drains B vitamins from your body, and B vitamins are essential for maintaining good mental health.

Sugar is in almost all packaged food you buy. Check the labels of what you buy for just a week and you will be astonished at how much is sneaked into our food. Start by cutting out the obviously sugary things in your diet: sugary drinks, sweets, chocolate, cakes, puddings and biscuits. When you have done this, then begin to avoid it more generally. Make your own food as often as possible instead of buying it pre made. Cook batches of soups, stew and sauces and freeze them. Bring your own lunch to work instead of getting a sandwich from the shop (yes there is sugar even in a lot of the sandwiches we buy. It’s even in salt-and-vinegar crisps).

If you have a sweet tooth, I recommend buying Xylitol (looks like sugar, tastes like sugar, but doesn’t do the harm sugar does) from health shops, or using acacia honey. Acacia honey is the only honey that is not too sugar rich to be healthy.

2. Brown not white

Refined carbohydrates meaning white bread, pasta, rice and most processed foods use up the mood-enhancing B vitamins. So when it comes to grains and cereal, always opt for whole and brown, not refined and white. Whole grains have B6 – a key mental health nutrient.

3. Nuts and seeds

Sunflower seeds and peanuts have got a lot of B3, cashews and hazelnuts are good sources of B6, and flax seeds and pumpkin seeds are full of Omega 3s. Brazil nuts have a lot of selenium. All these nutrients plus the zinc and magnesium in seeds and nuts play a big role in strong mental health.

Toasting them under the grill and adding them to soups, salads, stews and bowls of breakfast cereal is the easiest way of getting extra nuts and seeds into your diet without having to feast on birdseed.

4. Eat the right meat

Vitamin B6 – another mental health vitamin – can be found in meats but avoid processed meat, it’s not only linked to poor mental health but also to cancer. Unprocessed chicken and turkey are excellent sources of the nutrient and they also have tryptophan, an amino acid that boosts serotonin production – a lack of serotonin causes problems with mental health. Fish, especially mackerel, herring and salmon will give you a good dose of B12, which like all the other B vitamins is vital in your regular diet if you are going to have the best mental health possible. Vitamin B12 deficiency have been linked to extreme mood disorder. Also cod, salmon, snapper, trout and tuna have a lot of B6. If you are a vegetarian you should consider supplementing your B vitamin intake with vitamin pills.

5. More Fruit and Vegetables

Best rule of thumb with fruit and vegetables is go for as much variety and colour as you can and to also make sure that dark green leafy vegetables are eaten every day.

The magnesium that you get in dark green leafy vegetables has a chemical similarity to lithium, a common drug treatment for serious mood disorders. Vitamin b9, also known as folic acid is found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, watercress, cabbage and broccoli. Without enough b9, mental well-being is compromised.

Sweet peppers, spinach, baked potatoes with their skin, green peas, yams, broccoli, asparagus are excellent sources of vitamin B6.

High levels of mental health nutrient Vitamin C can come from eating a lot of fruit and vegetables too.

Garlic has anti anxiety and anti depressant qualities, so if you like it, eat it a lot. (Roast it, crush it into salad dressings or add it to sauces and stews).

6. Include beans, peas and pulses

Chick peas, kidney beans, lentils and soya beans are vitamin B6-rich. A single serving of any of these each day can lower the risk of bipolar. If you are a veggie, they are a great source of the tryptophan you’ll be missing from poultry and fish.

7. Reduce dairy

Cow dairy can cause symptoms of mental illness so it’s good to cut back on it. Cow dairy protein (bovine casein) – causes a slight immune reaction in a lot of people. There is a correlation between people with bipolar diagnoses and casein intolerance, and studies have shown that reducing dairy, along with the other rules of food and mood that I list here, was effective at reducing and even eliminating all symptoms of serious mental illness.

This may be because when people drink milk they show a marked increase in the peptide beta-casomorphin 6, which may aggravate or cause psychological disturbance. There are so many milk substitutes out there it is relatively easy to avoid dairy: replace it with soya milk, almond milk, oat milk or rice milk.

8. Less caffeine

Caffeine also alters both your blood sugar and your mood and is best kept to a minimum.

9. Low alcohol

No single legal thing will compromise your mental health as much as alcohol does. If you skip this rule, the rest will all be done for nothing. Keep alcohol to a minimum, drink small amounts and only on occasion if you need to drink at all. Pints of soda water make an excellent (and cheap) substitution for pints of beer or cider, I find, so you can still go to the pub and be sociable.

10. More Omega 3

Most people lack Omega 3, a type of fatty acid. These are essential for balanced, resilient mental health. The richest dietary source of omega 3 is oily fish like salmon, mackerel and herring. The more fish the population of a country eats the lower is their incidence of depression and omega 3 is the reason why. In one study bipolar disorder came out on top as the number 1 illness most associated with lack of omega 3 essential fatty acids. Vegetarian sources of omega 3 are flaxseed, humous, olive oil and even Brussels sprouts.

Any of the changes you make that bring your diet more into line with these rules will benefit your mental (and physical) health. Make small changes and build it up gradually because new habits that are formed slowly tend to last longer than drastic overhauls.

View every time you eat or drink as an opportunity to do your mental wellbeing and future self a favour. Don’t be hard on yourself and just see how it goes. Good luck!

A Closer Look at Sugar-Sweetened Drinks – The Bitter Truth

It is no secret that soda and other sweetened beverages contain large amounts of sugar that can lead to tooth decay and cause weight gain. What some might not know is that multiple studies reveal that sugary drinks do more harm than cause cavities or make your clothes fit tighter. Heavy consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can have a significant, negative impact on overall health. Sugar-sweetened drinks include regular soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and sugar-sweetened water. Sugary drinks have been linked to obesity, bone fractures and osteoporosis, kidney issues, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. The following information outlines the health complications that have been linked to the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and provides tips for a healthier lifestyle.

Kids are heavy consumers of sugary drinks, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and they are drinking it at alarmingly high rates. A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination study revealed the following facts on the consumption of sugar drinks by children and teens and the results are anything but sweet:

The consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks in the United States has increased over the last 30 years in both children and adults.
Teenagers and young adults consume more sugar drinks than other age groups.
Males consume more sugar drinks than females. Among boys aged 2-19, 70% consume sugar drinks on a given day.
A full third of teenage boys drink at least three cans of soda a day.

The consumption of sugar drinks, especially among young children and teens is a serious problem in our country. Sugar-sweetened beverages are an increasingly large part of children and teens’ diets. Just one 12-ounce can of soda contains anywhere from 31 to 46 grams of sugar depending on the type of soda. 46 grams of sugar is the equivalent of eleven teaspoons of sugar! The following are some of the serious health consequences linked to the prolonged consumption of sugar-filled drinks:

Lowered Bone Mass Density and Bone Fractures in Children
Osteoporosis, or the loss of bone density, is usually thought of as a geriatric condition. But the disease may have its roots in adolescence as bone mass reaches its peak level. Since your bones reach their peak mass and strength during your 20s, the more bone mineral density (BMD) you build when you are young, the less likely you are to develop osteoporosis later in life. Decreased intake of milk and excessive consumption of sugary carbonated beverages can lower bone marrow density and increase the risk of developing osteoporosis later in life. Animal studies also reveal that phosphorus, a common ingredient in soda, can deplete bones of calcium.

In addition, studies have found that consuming soft drinks is associated with an increased risk of bone fractures in school-age girls. In one of the studies, published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers found that 14-year-old girls who drank the most cola were 3.6 times more likely to have bone fractures than those who drank the least.

Weight Gain
Sugary drinks are the main source of added sugar in the daily diet of children. Consuming these beverages increases the intake of calories – a factor potentially contributing to obesity among youth nationwide. Between 1977 and 2001 Americans’ daily calorie consumption increased by 250-300 calories, nearly half of which (43%) came from sugary drinks alone. Being overweight is now the most common medical condition of childhood. Nearly 1 of every 3 children is at risk of being overweight. Complications of obesity include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and many other health and social problems.

Erosion of Teeth Enamel and Stomach Lining
Excessive consumption of sugary carbonated beverages increases the risk of dental problems, especially in children. The phosphoric acid in carbonated soda can interfere with calcium absorption and weaken teeth. The acid strips teeth of enamel, leaving them brittle. Once enamel breaks down, bacteria can invade and cause decay. The acids in soda are also known to exacerbate gastroesophageal reflux disease and ulcers. Phosphoric acid from these drinks neutralizes the hydrochloric acid in your stomach and destroys the capacity of the body to absorb essential elements like iron, calcium and magnesium. Damaged stomach function can result in indigestion, bloating and worsening of the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and several other stomach problems.

Kidney Stones
The high level of phosphoric acid in sodas has been known to change the urine in a way that promotes kidney stone formation and other renal problems.

Heart Disease
The latest research out of Harvard School of Public Health finds evidence of a link between sugary drink consumption and heart disease. The study found that those who drank more than two servings of a sugary beverage each day had a nearly 40% higher risk of heart disease than those who rarely drank sugary beverages. Drinking more than one soft drink a day is associated with an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a group of symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, elevated triglycerides and low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or “good” cholesterol.

How to break your habit and what to drink in place of sugary drinks

The best way to counteract the negative effects of sugary drinks is to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet. Water, of course, is the best beverage option. But for some, plain water is just too plain and kicking the habit overnight may be unrealistic. Start by reducing the number of sugary drinks you have per day until you eliminate them completely.

Try drinking some of the following beverages for a tasty alternative:

Add slices of your favorite fruits and vegetables – lemons, oranges, cucumber, mint, or limes to a pitcher of ice-cold water for a refreshing and flavorful drink.
Add a splash of 100% fruit juice to sodium-free seltzer water – mix one part 100% cranberry or pomegranate juice with three parts seltzer.
Add a few slices of lime or lemon to tonic water.
Drink iced herbal teas or green tea – green tea is naturally high in antioxidants. If you like your teas sweetened, add a bit of honey.
Skim milk: a low fat alternative that is high in calcium.

Create the health you deserve by nourishing your body with healthy foods and eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages from your diet. Creating a healthy life is more than just eating and drinking right, however. It is about treating the whole person – mind, body, spirit and energy. Create a healthy and balanced mind and body by utilizing one of the many wellness treatments offered at Fairfield County Integrative Family Medicine and Healing Therapies: yoga, massage, reiki/healing touch therapy, acupuncture, guided imagery, reflexology and manual lymphatic drainage. We believe in giving our patients the opportunity to find healing in any one of our integrative wellness therapies, which are designed to heal and soothe the body, spirit and mind.