There is as much debate about sugar in our diets as there is about fats. In my article entitled Eat your Fats I strongly encouraged the inclusion of healthy fats in the right proportion in your diet. Many people tend to avoid fat because they think it will make them fat. Sure if we eat more calories than we burn we are going to store the excess as fat – and yes, fat has more calories per gram than the other macro nutrients, but the right fats are essential for our body and can even help us in our weight management goals.
Sugar on the other hand is unnecessary, addictive and harmful to our bodies. Now this doesn’t mean that you should avoid eating food that naturally contains sugar – like fruit. It’s the refined sugar added to sweets, sodas, and many of the packaged products lining our store shelves that you should avoid. This is because the sugar in fruit is naturally occurring, as opposed to refined and/or chemically processed, and fruit contains fibre to slow the rise in blood sugar and help you feel full and satisfied. In addition, fruit contains many vitamins and minerals that are necessary for good health.
So what exactly are the negative impacts of sugar on your body?
Many of you are already aware that sugary foods trigger the release of insulin, a hormone that signals your body to store fat, but high sugar diets also have the following negative impacts on your body:
- Loss of vitamins – high sugar consumption robs our bodies of essential nutrients like B vitamins, chromium and potassium. This is because the nutrients lacking in the refined sugar that we consume must be supplied from our body stores for metabolism.
- Increases risk of heart disease – high sugar diets cause inflammation in the linings of our arteries causing damage overtime. Cholesterol then sticks to the arteries to “fix” the damage which results in a build-up of plaque increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
- Insulin Resistance – your body responds to high blood sugar by releasing insulin which ushers glucose into cells. High sugar diets keep insulin levels high. Overtime, cells stop responding to normal insulin levels causing your body to increase insulin output in order to lower blood sugar levels. This is known as insulin resistance.
- Joint Pain – high sugar diets increase inflammation which can aggravate arthritis.
- Kidney Damage – high levels of blood sugar can damage the kidney’s filtration system because the kidneys have to work harder to filter the blood from the excess sugar.
So if you are regularly consuming sweets or refined packaged goods, you are negatively impacting your ability to get a Mirror Friendly body and also harming your health. Consuming sugar is somewhat of a vicious cycle because it’s addictive. Once your blood sugar drops from the spike it got from consuming the sugar, you crave more sugar. High sugar diets also lead to increased appetite because your body isn’t getting the nutrients it is expecting to get from the food you are ingesting, leaving you feeling unsatisfied and reaching for more food.
So what can you do?
Your best bet is to consume whole foods in their natural state, like vegetables, fruits, eggs, etc. If you are consuming packaged products then be sure to check the label and avoid products that contain added sugar. You would be surprised at how many every day products you consume have added sugar that perhaps you didn’t even realize.
Ketchup? Yep, it has added sugar. Cocktail sauce? It’s in there too. It’s even in some baby formulas!
Also watch out for those low fat packaged products. They are normally loaded with sugar to make up for the lack of taste due to the reduction in fat. When checking labels, bear in mind that sugar shows up under different names like corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, malt syrup, maltose, fructose and dextrose. Generally speaking if the word on the label ends in –ose it is likely a form of sugar.
Thus check your labels and either avoid these products altogether or eat them occasionally. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying never eat a slice of cake or ice cream – I sure do – but not every day. I’ll enjoy a dessert on a special occasion. For the most part, because I don’t consume foods with added sugars, I simply don’t crave them and when I do have one, I realize just how sweet they are and can only tolerate a little.
In one of my next articles I will highlight the dangers of artificial sweeteners and discuss the various types of alternative natural sweeteners.
To fitness with love,