‘Sugar, ah honey, honey,  you are my candy girl and you’ve got me wanting you’

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That’s how the song goes by the Archies back in 1969 and it’s pretty much true of our sugar consumption in the 20th and now the 21st Century. Some would say that we are addicted to sugar but some people will say that we are not addicted to sugar , as you do not see people running around trying to get a constant sugar fix and just ramming sugar down our throats.
I’m more in the first camp, while we are not seeing people running around looking for that sugar fix and dealing it in secret, we are seeing people who can’t go a day without a chocolate bar, or bread, or pasta, or a cake or, well the list can go on. Is that not a form of addiction, craving something until you get it, having some satisfaction and then craving it again? Sounds like an addiction to me and unfortunately it’s something that I believe we all suffer from, to varying degrees and I would say that it’s not even a conscious thought as it’s everywhere, even in foods we consider to be healthy.
Sugar is everywhere, it’s added to so many products, some we are aware of, some we even note and we see that added sugar in the ingredients table, sometimes avoid it, sometimes we don’t (if you pick the low fat products then most of the time you are choosing added sugar, fat is not the enemy but that’s for another blog).
Added sugar is harmful to your health, but the real killer, the one that is getting us all are the HIDDEN sugars (the ones that come in your processed foods, low fat products, some diet products and in foods we may think are healthy) that could be doing more damage to your body than you think.
Hidden Sugars:
  1. Corn Syrup or High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  2. Dextrose or Crystal Dextrose
  3. Fructose
  4. Maltose
  5. Lactose
  6. Sucrose
  7. Glucose
  8. Evaporated Cane Juice or Fruit Juice
  9. Caramel
  10. Carob Syrup
  11. Brown Sugar
  12. Raw Sugar
  13. Dextrin and Maltodextrin
  14. Rice Syrup
  15. Molasses
  16. Evaporated Corn Sweetener
  17. Powdered Sugar
  18. Agave Nectar
  19. Other fruit Nectar’s

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Where are these Hidden Sugar’s found:
  1. Cereals, including those pre packaged porridge pots you can buy.
  2. Breads, including ‘whole grain’
  3. Snack Bars and Granola Bars
  4. Lower calorie drinks, including coffees, energy drinks, blended juices and sweet teas.
  5. Breakfast smoothies
  6. Alcohol
  7. Protein bars and meal replacement drinks.
  8. Low fat yogurts and dairy products.
  9. Bottled sauces, dressings, condiments and marinades
  10. Dried fruits and other fruit snacks
  11. Restaurant meals, where sugar is added for extra flavour.
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All because you do not suffer with diabetes, or you don’t have high blood pressure, please do not think that for one second this article is not for you. It’s even more important that you read on, you can make a choice to make those changes now, before something happens and it’s too late.  This is what sugar does to your body:
It sets you up for heart disease: Here it is straight in with a big hitter, more than fats, it is sugar that damages your heart and arteries, increasing your chances of cardiovascular diseases and heart attacks. Just limiting white sugar in your tea, coffee and fruit juices is not going to help, it’s a step in the right direction but it’s only a small step. Remember, even fructose, a type of sugar present in honey and fruits, has the capacity to increase your LDL or bad cholesterol, constrict your arteries, increase blood glucose and insulin levels — all of which can increase abdominal obesity and up your risk for both heart diseases and diabetes.
It tricks your brain into addiction: Sugar, releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine in the brain, which increase the affinity towards it and other addictive substances which also act on the same lines of sugar i.e., the release of dopamine and help enhance your mood. That’s why having that bit chocolate tastes and feels so good and why it’s so hard to put the rest down.
It increases hunger: Eating a pastry, a doughnut or two, to satisfy your mid-morning hunger or mid-evening craving might make you eat more during your meal time, no matter how early or late you decide to have the meal. And if you think that sprinting for 10 minutes or so can help burn the calories, you are wrong. Sugar in various forms (glucose or fructose) doesn’t help keep your hunger at bay. In fact, even high level of fructose in the blood can decrease the circulation of leptin and insulin while increasing the concentration of hunger hormone ghrelin. This could be a contributing factor for weight gain and obesity.

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It makes your liver sick: Foods that we eat breaks down into sugar, mainly of two kinds – glucose and fructose. While glucose is needed by every cell of the body, fructose doesn’t have much of a physiological importance. But fruits, honey and many sweeteners have fructose and that is how it gets into our blood stream. This fructose is metabolised only by the liver and converted into glycogen to be used in future when the body needs energy. But if there is too much stored glycogen already and a high level of fructose in the blood, the liver turns it into fat, restricting it to perform its normal functions. This could also lead to fatty liver syndrome, complications of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
It could lead to various types of cancer: So here’s another one of those big hitters,  are you listening yet? Excess sugar could be a marker for cancer. Remember, insulin plays an important role in the regulation of cell growth. Some studies have indicated that elevated insulin levels because of consumption of foods high in sugar could be a reason for prostate, pancreatic and breast cancer. Just take a moment for that to sink in.
It could make you resistant to insulin: This is one of the signs and symptoms of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of symptoms like elevated blood pressure, LDL cholesterol, etc. Now eating more sugar could mean that more glucose is in the blood and so your pancreas would secrete more insulin for the glucose to enter your cells. However, with elevated insulin in the body the cells become immune to insulin, resulting in insulin resistance. This is when there is high blood glucose in the body, indicating to be a marker for type II diabetes and other metabolic problems.

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It is bad for your dental health: There is no denying that sugar is bad for your teeth and one of the prime reasons for cavities. Now, if you are thinking what makes sugar so envious of your teeth, remember sugar is empty calories, and it robs nutrients out of the food. So the sugar that remains in the mouth, especially if you fail to rinse your mouth thoroughly it gives an ideal environment for the bad bacteria to thrive and grow.
It leads to obesity: Now, this should not be a surprise. Since sugar is capable of suppressing satiety and increasing ghrelin, the hunger hormone, it is then no surprise that you end up eating more, mostly carbohydrate-rich foods that lead to abdominal obesity (in the absence of physical activity). Eating sugar leads to eating more sugar. Abdominal obesity is one of the major contributing factors in metabolic disease, heart diseases and also renal diseases.
It makes you age faster: More sugar in your diet will ruin the collagen in your skin and lead to wrinkles and spots that can rob your age, making you look older than your age.
So how do we combat this world of plentiful sugar? Start by dumping those low fat products, most or nearly all of them will have added sugars to help with the taste. Then start cutting out the processed foods as much as possible and do not think that diet products are good either, they will normally be full of sweeteners.
Make small changes that become habit and then make another change. try not to do everything at once or you won’t stick at it in the long run. If you eat a chocolate bar a day, then reduce it to every other day, then every few days, then once a week. As a kid we looked forward to treats, they didn’t happen everyday, they were actually treats and didn’t impact on our lives in an unhealthy way. It’s not until we become adults or teenagers, that we turn these treats into everyday occurrences, we still call them treats, but they have become the norm and where is the treat in that?
If you like this article, please like my facebook page, Tom Nash Personal Training to stay up to date with my latest posts.
You can also follow me on Instagram @tomnashpt or on twitter @ThomasENash for updates and training ideas.

 

 

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