The Sweet Stuff

Sugar is a problem for us for several reasons. First, it doesn’t occur in nature the way we eat it now, so we haven’t evolved with it as a regular part of our diet. In nature, “sugar” is always a combination of sugars rather than the isolates we put in all of our food now days. The other issue is that it has never been readily available for more than a few months of the year since it is seasonal as fruit and tree sap, or you’d have to get it from a hive of bees which is always tricky and usually painful.

The main issue we have with sugar is that it is an irritant and quickly becomes toxic to our system. Simple sugars quickly enter the blood stream and stimulate an over production of insulin. The high levels of insulin cause a rapid drop in blood sugar which leads to foggy thinking, irritability, and the other symptoms associated with “hypoglycemia”. This dramatic up-and-down cycle is very hard on our hormonal system and on our waistline. Daily exposure to this up and down cycle, repeatedly throughout the day, eventually leads to a situation where the cells of the body stop paying attention to all that insulin… “insulin resistance”.

This insulin resistance continues to get worse until eventually, we lose our ability to keep blood sugar under control and it builds up in the blood. At a certain cut off point, we receive the diagnosis of “diabetes”. The important point is that long before we can be labeled “diabetic” we are no longer healthy. A common symptom of insulin resistance is increased body fat around the midsection while the limbs stay relatively lean. People also begin to notice problems with keeping energy levels constant throughout the day, especially feeling irritable before and drowsy after meals. On blood tests, triglycerides will be elevated.

Sugar is also pro-inflammatory and may be contributing to your joint/muscle pain. Blood sugar does the same thing to your cells that it does to your fingers when they are damp and you touch sugar… makes them sticky. When blood sugar levels are too high, the red blood cells and immune cells in the blood can’t work as well because they are sticky. As little as one teaspoon of sugar suppresses your immune system for up to 4 hours. If you have a problem with seasonal allergies, catch frequent colds and flu, suffer from chronic or repeated UTI and upper respiratory infections, etc, check your diet diary!

Sugar sneaks into our diets from many unexpected places. Processed foods are higher in sugar than the whole food version because it improves taste and it makes a great preservative. Foods which advertise they are a “low fat” alternative to some other food are higher in sugar to make up for the loss in flavor when the fat was removed. If you see sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, high fructose corn syrup on the label, it means “sugar”. Agave nectar is as highly processed as high fructose corn syrup and affects us the same way. Just say no.

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