Sugar truly is addictive: Your body reacts to it like a drug – which is why so many of us crave it and why so many of us find it so hard to give it up.
Last year, research from Australia found that sugar really is a drug; affecting the brain in a similar way to other drugs such as cocaine.
The study found that when we eat sugar the body releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. But as time goes by, this ‘feel good’ reaction begins to fade. That means that we need to consume more and more sugar in order to reach the same reward levels and avoid mild states of depression.
This may be one reason why so many people find quitting sugar as tough as quitting other addictive substances. And yet quitting sugar may be one of the most revolutionary things you can do to improve your health.
Slow motion poison
Most of us associate sugar with a fast energy boost, but in reality high sugar diets are a kind of slow motion poison that eats away at our health and well-being.
Excess sugar has been linked to obesity and chronic disease, as well as premature death. In fact, there is evidence to show that as the percentage of your daily calories from sugar rises, so does your risk of death from cardiovascular disease. In a 2012 comment in the journal Nature, researchers at University of California concluded that sugar contributes to 35 million deaths globally every year.
Added sugar also chronically raises insulin levels, which in turn activates the sympathetic nervous system, increasing blood pressure and heart rate
It has also been linked with the earlier onset of menstruation in girls – a risk factor for breast cancer and other estrogen-dependent cancers later in life.
A high sugar diet ages you too. The cause is a natural process known as glycation, in which the sugar in your bloodstream attaches to proteins to form harmful new molecules called ‘advanced glycation end products’ (ironically, AGEs for short). The more sugar you eat, the more AGEs your body produces.
AGE’s can prematurely wrinkle your skin, they also affect other organs and tissues in the body and are involved in the development of diabetes.
In diabetics, harmful molecules called dicarbonyls – which are breakdown products of glucose – have recently been shown to interfere with infection-controlling substances in the body known as beta-defensins, and therefore compromise immunity.
And, of course, sugar is bad for your teeth. Sugary foods and drinks are the top cause of preventable tooth decay.
There are sugars that occur naturally in foods, and then there is the sugar added in the processing or preparation of foods, especially convenience and ‘junk’ foods.
We now realise that of all the things we consume as part of our modern diet, this added sugar may be the most dangerous.
It sneaks into everything and, ironically, low fat and so-called healthy option foods are some of the worst offenders since manufacturers often add extra sugar to make up for the lack of fat and to make the food more satisfying.
These hidden sugars are very hard to keep track of – you may never know how much you are eating. That’s why healthy eating experts recommend that one of the best ways to avoid hidden sugar is to cut out processed foods altogether.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that refined sugars should contribute less than 5% of your total daily energy intake, which is about 6-7 teaspoons of sugar for adults or about 3-4 teaspoons for children.
Importantly, this is a maximum level, so it is best to consume as little added sugar as possible.
Breaking the sugar habit
Wouldn’t be great to wipe the slate clean and start again?
We think so, which is why – in partnership with Viridian Nutrition – we are recommending you start the year right with a 7 day sugar detox plan, designed to help reset your body to a healthier way of eating.
Exactly what you’ll experience as you cut back on addictive sugar will depend on the size of your sugar habit. If you eat a lot of sugar you could experience withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, restlessness, and even depression.
This is where Viridian’s specially formulated 7 Day Sugar Detox kit can provide essential support. The daily supplements contain chromium – an important mineral that regulates the activity of insulin in the body. Insulin is a hormone that helps your body convert sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for our daily activities.
The supplement also contains cinnamon, which has a long history of traditional use, and which modern research shows, can help control blood sugar levels.
Used alongside Viridian’s special recipes for low sugar eating, it will give you the support you need to change your diet and improve your health.
Get the App
The plan is supported by an amazing free app that works on both Apple and android phones. The app helps monitor your progress and offers tips and encouragement and, importantly, 7 days of no added sugar meal options (and handy shopping lists!) to make it easy for you to stay on track
The meal plans are nutrient-rich to nourish you and to help minimise sugar cravings.
At the end of the 7 days you should feel more energised and motivated to keep to a sensible longer-term, high nutrition, low sugar plan.
And if, occasionally, you feel like you still need something sweet remember there are healthier options such raw honey, maple syrup (not maple flavoured syrup), coconut sugar, xylitol, stevia leaf, blackstrap molasses, 100% fruit jam and dates or date syrup. These have less impact on your blood sugar and have nutritional benefits beyond their sweetness.
Of all the New Year’s resolutions you can make, a sugar detox may be the healthiest. Why not give it a try?
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