Some researchers say that sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine. One of the best things you can do for your health, cravings and your waist line is to stop eating sugar. But it is not just sugar that we need to be careful about. Refined carbs can be addictive, too.
Refined carbs are foods that have been processed to remove fiber and nutrients like white flour, white rice, white pasta and highly processed ready to eat cereals. Consuming these white foods is just like eating directly out of the sugar bowl.
Here’s why. The enzymes in our mouths start to break down these foods instantly to sugar. By the time that pasta gets to your intestine where it is absorbed, it is 100% sugar. The sugar then gets absorbed into our blood stream which is where things start to go sideways.
Sugar and its effect on hormones
It is a well-established fact that when we consume sugar, it causes the hormone insulin to be secreted. Insulin plays a vital role in getting sugar in the blood into the cell where it can be used as energy. The challenge occurs when our diets are high in sugar which causes insulin to be secreted repeatedly. Eventually, the body becomes insensitive to insulin which is known as insulin resistance.
Insulin Resistance and Inflammation
Insulin resistance mostly occurs in individuals who are overweight, particularly in people who carry excess weight around their middle. Those excess pounds around the waist set off a series of events which create cytokines leading to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation is the major root cause of most of the chronic diseases that we suffer from in Western society such as heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and autoimmune diseases. Sugar is one of the most toxic foods that we eat because of its link to inflammation.
Robert H. Lustig, M.D. , Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at University of California, San Francisco argues that sugar is harmful in significant amounts. It’s not just because it’s high in calories but because it triggers a toxic chain of reactions in the body that produce harmful fats, hormones, and other metabolic by-products.
Sugar is Addictive
In a study conducted at Harvard, investigators fed participants high and low sugar smoothies followed by brain scans. When subjects consumed the high sugar smoothie, the scans of their addiction centers lit up like Christmas trees.
The key player in the reward system of our brain is dopamine. Dopamine receptors are all over our brain. Sugar causes a surge in our dopamine levels and the brain likes that. It seeks that reward over and over again. The problem is that more and more sugar is required to keep the brain happy.
Just as important is the fact that sugar is very seductive. It is associated with celebration, love and everything that feels nurturing. When we celebrate an achievement or a special day, we don’t generally go out for a salad. We want sugar!
The best strategy for sugar management
Get it out of your diet. You will notice that within 7 to 10 days you don’t crave it in the same way. I am not saying that you should never eat sugar again. I am just saying that there are some powerful influences at work when it comes to sugar. Be mindful and make sure you have a strategy and plan in place.
Let’s say you are celebrating your anniversary at your favorite restaurant. You know the flour-less chocolate cake there is the best ever and you make a proactive decision to indulge. Just realize that sugar is addictive and the next day your craving for sugar and refined carbs will be powerful. If you have a plan for the next day to eat regular meals and snacks of whole unprocessed foods with plenty of fiber, healthy fat and protein, you will be the one in control not the sugar.
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