Thursday, December 7, 2023
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Sugar, not so sweet facts !

Can we imagine our little ones smoking a cigarette or drinking alcohol? Do we admire our teenagers consuming drugs!! Why then, do we approve of feeding ourselves & our loved ones the toxin called “SUGAR”?
Sugar is more harmful than any of the above mentioned addictions as it is consumed “daily” and “whole day” and “by the whole society”!! One of the studies concluded that there will not be any packets left on the super market shelf, if we start removing packets containing “sugar”. Added sugar is present in every processed food, in large amounts and in different forms. These sweeteners are more intensely sweet than natural sugars found in whole, healthy foods and are dangerously addictive. HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) is one of the major added sugars today and most harmful.
Sugar, like tobacco, drugs and alcohol, taps into the same dopamine reward system that keeps people smoking cigarettes, using marijuana, and drinking alcohol inspite of knowing its ill effects. People fed with sugar exhibit the same brain activity as those who consume drugs /alcohol.Regular consumption of sugar develops insensitive dopamine response (reduction in pleasure) for smaller amounts of sugar. Need to consume more and more to get the same high. This leads to subsequently overeating in an effort to achieve the same extent of satisfaction. The journey towards ill health starts…..
We have enough evidence that sugar “is toxic”.But it has largely been eschewed, and restriction of sugar has not been recommended as a means to prevent disease, till date. It is for us to understand the causes for our constant suffering and become responsible for our health.
SUGAR provides a huge calorie load with no nutrition nor fibre. It actually robs nutrients from the body and hits the bloodstream almost instantly. The surge of glucose in the blood and fructose in the liver sets off complex pathways in the body that, over time, contributes to increased visceral fat, elevated cholesterol, triglycerides, insulin resistance, blood pressure, lower bone mineral density, cancer cell survival and proliferation, aging and many more.
Let me explain, table sugar is about 50% glucose & 50% fructose.
Glucose is metabolized/utilised by every cell of our body. When in excess, gets converted & stored as fat, leading to obesity & a host of related disorders (like heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, some cancers, gallbladder disease & breathing problems). These are the wellknown facts. What we generally don’t know are the truths about fructose metabolism.
Fructose intake enhances lipogenesis(production of fat) and worsens blood lipids leading to risk of CVD and obesity.Major portionof fructose is broken down by the liver. Some of these free fatty acids remain in the liver as lipid droplets leading to non alcoholic fatty liver. This can induce insulin resistance (both in liver cells and outside) and high insulin secretion, ultimately leading to Type 2 diabetes. Fructose metabolism produces uric acid as a by-product leading to risk of gout. Increased uric acid also blocks an enzyme called endothelial nitric-oxide synthase which in turn makes nitric oxide. This “nitric oxide” is necessary to keep the blood pressure low. Thus, fructose contributes to hypertension. High sugar intake increases advanced glycation end products (AGEs – when sugars combine with certain amino acids or fats-a process called glycation). Accumulation of AGEs can wreak cellular havoc, contributing in turn to oxidative stress, chronic inflammation, and premature aging. AGEs are also associated with many above mentioned chronic diseases and conditionslike Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, rheumatoid arthritis, cataract and kidney disease.
Exclusion of sugar & products with added sugar can help one stay healthy and at an optimal body weight.
After years of eating foods with these processed ingredients our taste buds become conditioned to the intensity of the taste, and by comparison, healthy foods may not seem to have as much flavor& taste. However, we can always recondition our taste buds and sensitise our dopomine responses by consuming natural whole foods for few weeks and start enjoying the natural tastes and flavours of wholesome foods. The next question will be – Fruits are also made up of fructose & glucose. Can we consume them?? YES!! Fruits have lots of fibre &not over loaded with sugar when compared with processed foods. Also,they come packed with nutrients, antioxidents &phytochemicals which are vital to health. So, we can never compare them with the processed foodsfull of refined sugar or high fructose corn syrupand devoid of nutrients & fibre.
So, whats the solution:
n Consume lots of whole fruits & dry fruits. This will not only satisfy the sweet tooth but flood the body with vital nutrients.
n Use fruits & dry fruits (instead of sugar) in recipes to add sweetness.
n Do enjoy home made sweets(use unrefined whole grains/grams) with organic unrefined jaggery, occassionally.
n Ban table sugar in your homes.
n Stop consuming processed foods (packets, tins & bottles). These are the culprits, loaded with added sugar & HFCS. Look for words ending with ‘ose’ (sugar), ‘itol’ (a sugar alcohol) or Disaccharide (two sugars joined together), on the label.
n Do not consume any kind of sweetners (natural or artificial). They all have harmful side-effects on a long run.
I know what is going on in the mind – almost impossible task. Not really. Most of my clients are able to let go of sugar, in a day, reverse their diseases in 4 to 6 weeks and stop/get to minimum medications. Do give a try.
Tip: If you think you will do it gradually, decreasing in small amounts, it is impossible. We all know, sugar has a definite impact on the brain. So, just stop it, NOW. Give yourself a time period of 1 week. As it is just for a week, it is easy to accept and practice. Observe the changes in every aspect of life and experience the changes in health. This will open doors for healthier possibilities.
Health Coach, M.Sc (Food & Nutrition)
(Ph.D. Yoga & Life Sciences)

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