Sugar – it’s pretty much a dirty word in today’s vocabulary – and for good reason! As I’ve said before, sugar is toxic. It wreaks havoc on our immune systems, our waist lines, or overall health and our quality of life. I think it’s clear for most people that processed sugars and foods are a definite no-no when it comes to achieving lasting health, but what about natural sugars? Ah yes, that area is still a little bit muddy, isn’t it? So let’s try and clear a few things up!
On molecular level, all sugar is the same. Whether it’s in a piece of fruit, your soda or a pastry, sugar is made up of the same two components: fructose and glucose. Fructose breaks down in your liver and doesn’t provoke an insulin response. Glucose starts to break down in the stomach and requires the release of insulin into the bloodstream to be metabolized completely. And it’s this spike in insulin that really causes the problems.
Let’s break it down: an influx of sugar into your body will cause your blood sugar levels to rise rapidly. Shortly after, your pancreas will release a bunch of insulin to help clear sugar from your blood into your cells to use later for energy. As blood sugar levels go down, insulin levels return to normal. But when you eat a lot of sugar, you’re constantly calling for insulin, and that can backfire in a couple of ways. Over time, it takes more and more insulin to get the job done.
Eventually, your pancreas may just stop responding to the call. Congratulations, you’re now an insulin-dependent diabetic. And it doesn’t stop there: along the way, you’re exposing your cells and organs to chronically high insulin levels which accelerates the aging process, spurs on weight gain, increases inflammation in the body and severely suppresses your immune system, thus encouraging disease.
So what about natural sugars? Unfortunately, natural sugars like honey, evaporated cane juice, agave, molasses, maple syrup and coconut sugar have the exact same response in your body’s insulin levels as simple, refined sugars. Sure they are definitely better than processed white sugar (simply because they are less processed and some have less of an impact on insulin levels), but they by no means can be eaten in abundance, o
r even every day. Instead, these natural sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation, such as weekend treat or special occasion.
The good news is there is one very sweet exception: fruit.
Fresh fruit, the source of real natural sweetness, is health promoting and an excellent source of calories for the human body, which is why I always advise my clients to include a variety of fresh fruit in their diet. Some people avoid fruit due to its sugar content, but simply avoiding fruits because they contain “sugar” is a misinterpretation of their nutritional value.
Fruits contain some simple sugars like fructose and glucose, however they also contain longer chain carbohydrates that take longer to digest and absorb, meaning they don’t cause the same insulin spike as simple sugars. Fruits are also fantastic health-promoters due to the presence of a host of beneficial plant compounds that aid in the digestive process. And unlike refined “sugars,” the carbohydrates in fruit are accompanied by some important co-passengers, including vitamins, minerals, fiber, water and antioxidants.
However, it’s still not a god idea to enjoy limitless amounts of fruit (we still want to focus mostly on their amazing cousin, vegetables!). I recommend clients enjoy 2-3 servings a day. For example, that’s 1 cup of berries and 2 whole pieces of fruit for a dessert or snack per day.
So now that we’re clear on the differences, how do we break free from our sugar habit completely? I always recommend a sugar detox program as the best way to kick-start your health and banish your cravings for the white stuff permanently – and luckily I have a program all ready for you to start today!
My book, 21 Days to Detoxify Your Life – Mind, Body, and Soul is a simple guide to kicking your sugar habit for good. By guiding you through small daily changes, this program makes achieving your weight-loss and wellness goals simple with big and lasting results. Filled with daily to-dos, meal plans, recipes, tips and tricks – you’ll be fully guided step-by-step and day-by-day throughout the entire program.
Together we will reset your palate and banish cravings; rebalance your body and reclaim your health; and regain your youthful vigour so you can live the energetic, strong and happy life you dream of – sugar-free!
And don’t worry – there is no starvation component to this plan! In fact, you’ll get to enjoy recipes for tons of deliciously clean eats that give your body (and your taste buds) some real lovin’.
Wishing you love, health, and happiness,