Great Tips on Recognizing and Getting Rid of Your Sugar Addiction Before it Sabotages Your Health!
As Easter approaches people bring out their pastel color clothing and dress to impress. We hunt for the “golden” egg, big Sunday meals are prepared, and we overeat. Reflecting on my childhood, there are very good memories but most of them are associated with SUGAR.
The more I am in practice I realize how many people are addicted to SUGAR. Perhaps you are one of them. Now, I don’t use the word “addicted” lightly. Saying you are addicted to your favorite food, for example, isn't necessarily encompassing the real meaning of the word.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), "Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.
Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one's behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death."
I know that's a pretty long definition, but it is important to really know what we're talking about when we say sugar is addicting.
Sugar affects our brain quite significantly.
Studies have shown that sugar literally slows down the brain's function, hinders new learning, and decreases memory recall. There are also strong connections of high sugar intake and the prevalence of depression and anxiety. In fact, doctors are now calling Type 3 Diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease.
Foods rich in sugar disrupt our brain's neurotransmitters that work to stabilize our moods. However, if we are continually disrupting the function of these receptors, we no longer have the inherent control over our moods as we usually do. According to Dr. Kharrazian, a functional medicine expert and author, this is a huge contribution to chronic depression. I have read all of his books and they are amazing and on point.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for controlling the reward and pleasure responses of the brain. When you eat a lot of sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released in your brain. As you continue to consume sugar, the dopamine receptors become less powerful, making the response less effective. More sugar is needed to create that same euphoric, dopamine reaction. This continues into a vicious cycle, much like what happens with drug addictions.
In fact, a popular study proved the addictive qualities in sugar with rats and Oreos. The pleasure regions of (previously drug addicted) rats' brains were significantly more active when exposed to Oreo cookies compared to cocaine. (More information on this study is here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1931610/)
A later study showed that the brains of people with "food addiction" reacted to sugar the same way as drug addicts react to drugs.
Often, we don’t realize how much sugar we’re consuming.
One of the main reasons you may not recognize all the sugar you have in your diet is because it very rarely will say "sugar" on the ingredient lists of the food you buy.
Instead you may see: Dextrose, Maltose, Glucose, Fructose, Corn Syrup, High Fructose Corn Syrup Corn Sweetener, Sucrose, Sorbitol, Sorghum syrup, Agave nectar, Carbitol, Evaporated Cane Juice, Galactose, Inversol, and Rice Malt Sorbitol Nectars. And those are just a few!
For example, you can identify hidden sugars by looking for words ending in "ose" or "ides" and by examining the entire ingredients list.
But what's the big deal?
If sugar is already in all the food we eat, then why should we care? It's not like EVERYONE is sick, right?
Consider this: When most people “crash” on sugar they experience irritability, decreased mood, brain fog, and fatigue. Now, imagine those symptoms not going away!
The problem with excessive sugar consumption is that most health issues do not manifest immediately and if they do, they are not usually recognized as being caused by our diets. Mental illness and behavioral problems are often attributed to other sources beyond diet. Allergies, arthritis, and migraines are explained by our environment, stress levels, and response to medication. Immune disorders, degenerative diseases, diabetes, and cancer take time to diagnose and most people aren't grabbing their food journals at this point to search for the connection.
However, there is more research being conducted on the effects of sugar on human health by the day.
Sugar and insulin resistance
The relationship of sugar and insulin resistance has become a crucial topic of discussion. Insulin is one of the most important hormones in our bodies. It is responsible for directing glucose into cells to be used for energy.
However, when our cells no longer respond to insulin, our body receives the message that it needs to produce more. In response, the pancreas makes more insulin. But over time, the pancreas is unable to keep up with the demand and blood sugar is no longer able to be maintained. This is known as insulin resistance. You do not want your cells to become insulin resistance. It is thought to be a big contributor to many diseases, including but not limited to: type II diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, and cardiovascular disease.
Even after these diseases develop, the elevated blood sugar remains an ongoing problem. This excess is often the reason people with these illnesses experience other complications, like blindness in diabetic patients, for example.
It is no secret that obesity is a serious epidemic. One in three children, and two out of three adults, are either overweight or obese in the United States. Sugar's role in gaining weight is much more serious than just adding in some empty calories. It affects the hormones responsible for satiety and the feelings of satisfying your hunger. Therefore, it leads you to eating more and more. I'm sure you can see the problem here ...
Knowing this alone strengthens the case that there is a 60% increased risk of obesity in children for every daily serving of sugar-sweetened beverages in their diets!! It is important to note that the weight gain from sugar is often present in the abdominal area. This visceral fat breeds a higher risk profile for many other diseases, some even life threatening.
Therefore, sugar is a leading factor in the rise in obesity among many other serious health complications.
Fructose and your liver
Fructose, one of the main components of sugar, is metabolized by the liver, but only in significant amounts at a time.
This wouldn't be a problem if everyone minimized their sugar intake significantly and increased their daily physical activity. Typically, the fructose would be turned into glycogen and be stored in the liver for safe keeping until our bodies were ready to burn this energy reserve.
However, if there is already ample amount of glycogen in the liver, eating more sugar overloads it. The extra is forced to be turned into fat. This process is the beginning of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease among other complications. To take it even further, some studies have suggested that sugar can be just as damaging as alcohol is to the liver -- even if you're at a healthy weight!
The good news is that the liver is able to repair itself. The bad news is, with continuous sugar consumption, the organ never gets a break!
There have been many misconceptions on what causes cardiovascular disease, the role in cholesterol, and what foods help or harm heart health. Saturated fat is not the culprit. Sugar is. That’s right: Sugar consumption is a leading contributor to heart disease, the #1 killer in this world.
Studies have shown that consuming a large amount of fructose can cause a raise in bad cholesterol (LDL), blood glucose, insulin levels, and abdominal obesity. These findings were apparent in as little as 10 weeks.
Please note that all of these factors are major risk factors in developing heart disease.
Here are some more studies linking sugar consumption with heart disease:
How is your immune system?
Your immune system is responsible for defending your body against illness. That's a big deal! So, if your immune system is compromised, you are putting yourself in danger of pathogens that can make you very sick.
According to a study through Loma Linda University, 100 grams of sugar can make your white blood cells 40 percent less effective in killing germs. On top of already putting your body in a stressed and irritated state, sugar directly affects your main line of defense against disease. The most alarming part about this is that the sugar's crippling effects stay present in your system for up to 5 hours after you eat it!
If possible, avoid these products:
This chemical sweetener is best known for its appearance in diet sodas. Some people can tolerate it well in the short term, while others report migraines and digestive distress. Regardless of the initial reaction, aspartame has been proved pretty dangerous in isolated situations. For example, the University of Liverpool conducted a study where aspartame was mixed with a common food coloring. The result was clear toxicity to brain cells! Additionally, researchers found that when aspartame breaks down, it creates formaldehyde, a well-known carcinogen. Eeek!
Sucralose, commonly known as the brand name Splenda, is processed using chlorine! Researchers are also finding that the waste of those consuming this "sugar" can't be broken down in wastewater treatment centers. Imagine what that means for INSIDE our bodies!
High Fructose Corn Syrup
This one may be a bit more challenging to avoid. HFCS is in almost everything. This sweetener plays a huge role in the fat build up in the liver, leptin resistance, and major weight gain. A study even found that high fructose corn syrup is sometimes laced with mercury! Mercury is a heavy metal linked to heart disease and developmental disorders like autism.
Safer sugar alternatives include:
Stevia sweetener is an extract made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has actually shown to help balance fasting blood sugar levels, cholesterol, insulin resistance, and blood pressure. However, it is important to pay attention to the source of stevia. Some brands include additives so be sure to always check the label.
Coconut sugar is a natural sweetener, unrefined, and still contains all of its vitamins and minerals. It does not contribute to the strong fluctuations in blood sugar like other, refined added sugars.
Honey has less fructose and provides other health benefits, including promoting heart health and fighting inflammation.
As always, too much of a good thing can be bad. So please keep in mind that these alternatives do still break down to glucose and fructose in your body and all sweeteners should be used infrequently.
I can help!
If you feel like you need support on phasing sugar out of your diet, I am absolutely here to help.
If you would like to do my blood sugar boot camp you can contact me because I have helped many people overcome their blood sugar issues, but it starts with finding the cause. Everyone is unique. Underlying deficiencies and toxicities can be determined with a comprehensive blood test which, in turn, can direct you towards the proper nutrients you need for your body. By getting a comprehensive blood panel and tissue mineral analysis performed by an experienced healthcare professional, an individualized program can be compiled for you to prepare you for your new healthy lifestyle. That way you won’t have to guess what you may need to eat or supplements that you should be on. You can take the guesswork out by getting tested objectively. Get tested today and see how to enhance your body’s foundation towards optimal wellness.
If you want more healthy tips and see the peeps recipe you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/drcorinneweaver. Like and comment on my channel so I will know what tips and topics you want to know about. I am forming a community of people who want to take action in their own health with my social media channels and I want to know what health topics you want to hear.
I hope my column speaks to you and you can wake up each morning with a purpose. What I do every day is a calling, and I give God the glory for allowing his gifts to work through me. I do believe in miracles, because I get to see them every day! For more information you can go to www.nomoremedsmovement.com and sign up for my closed Facebook group #NoMoreMeds-Community for more healthy tips.
Dr. Corinne Weaver
Dr. Corinne Weaver is a compassionate upper cervical chiropractor, educator, motivational speaker, mother of three, and internationally bestselling author. In 2004, she founded the Upper Cervical Wellness Center in Indian Trail, North Carolina. Over the last 13 years, she has helped thousands of clients restore their brain to-body function. When she was 10 years old, she lost her own health as the result of a bike accident that led to having asthma and allergy issues that she thought she would always have to endure. Then, after her first upper cervical adjustment at age 21, her health began to improve thanks to upper cervical care and natural herbal remedies. This enabled her to create a drug-free wellness lifestyle for herself and her family, and she also enthusiastically discovered her calling to help children heal naturally.
Dr. Weaver was recently named one of Charlotte Magazine's "Top Doctors" in 2016 and is now a number-one internationally bestselling author to two books: Learning How to Breathe and No More Meds.
Upper Cervical Wellness Center is known for finding the root cause of health concerns through lifestyle changes, diagnostic testing, nutraceutical supplementation, and correction of subluxation (as opposed to just medicating the symptoms). The practice offers cutting-edge technological care at its state-of-the-art facility, including laser-aligned upper cervical X-rays, bioimpedance analysis (measures body composition), digital thermography (locates thermal abnormalities characterized by skin inflammation), and complete nutritional blood analysis, which is focused on disease prevention.