So what’s wrong with sugar? Most people eat it in various forms, it’s in most of our processed food and drinks, the government isn’t doing much to reduce our sugar consumption, so it can’t be all that bad, can it? Well, not only is it bad for us, it’s worse than most people think.

Sugar Habit

Our sugar habit is formed early in life. Sweets and sugary snacks, sugary drinks, they’re all given to us as treats or even as a reward for good behaviour. They also feature large in celebrations at Birthdays, weddings, Christmas and other religious festivals. So from an early age our brains have been hard-wired to associate sugar with happy times. This insidious link spills over into adulthood, and is passed on through the generations.

Sugar is toxic to the human body, so in reality when we reward our children with a sugary snack or a drink of sugary soda, in effect we’re saying “you’ve been really good, so as a reward I want you to eat this poison which will damage your health and might even eventually kill you”. Or, “Happy Birthday! Here’s some more poison.”

Add to this the strong influence of peer pressure, and sugar weaves its way into our lives in a very powerful way. “Go on, have another slice of chocolate cake, I made it especially for you!” Or, “let me buy you a soda, it’s such a hot day, I’m having one too.” or “don’t be a party-pooper, healthy eating can wait till tomorrow, lets pig out tonight!”. You’ve probably given into these words, or even uttered them yourself.

Sure it’s great to party and celebrate and eat good food, but you can do all these things and avoid sugar. There’s so much delicious food that’s healthy, there’s no need to poison yourself with sugar.

So what exactly is wrong with sugar?

Refined manufactured sugar, known as sucrose, and also HFCS which is short for high fructose corn syrup, are the substances that do the damage. What damage? Because they’re so refined, they absorb into the bloodstream very fast, and cause a radical insulin response to handle the high blood sugar levels.

Repeated high blood sugar causes damage throughout the body. And excess sugar, ie that which is not burned as energy (or stored as glycogen for future energy release), is converted very quickly to fat, which you’ll soon notice around your stomach, bum, hips, and chest. But what you’ll not notice is the fat that accumulates in your liver, and on the walls of your arteries.

When most carbohydrates are digested, they break down into glucose. But when sugar is digested, it breaks down into equal amounts of glucose and fructose. You may think fructose is ok, as it’s found in fruit, but in excess quantities, and in its refined and concentrated state, it causes havoc inside your body. Unlike glucose, which is 80% metabolised by your muscle cells and 20% by your liver, fructose can only be metabolised by your liver, and this leads to an overloaded liver, which then converts around a third of the fructose into saturated fat.

Sugar is known as an ‘anti-nutrient’ because it leeches vital minerals and vitamins from the body in order to metabolise it. Unlike fruit, which contains ample vitamins and minerals to metabolise the fructose in the fruit, refined sugar and HFCS contain no such nutrients, and so drain your body of goodness.

Over time, a diet high in sugar leads to a range of disorders:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Suppressed Immunity
  • Yeast Infections and ‘Bad’ Bacteria growth in the gut
  • Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Many more related disorders, but it would take a large medical book to detail them all.

How can I kick the sugar habit?

There’s a lot you can do to beat your sugar cravings. Here’s a checklist:

  1. Cut out all sugary snacks, fizzy drinks, fruit juices, sweets, cakes, takeaways, junk foods.
  2. Replace these foods with small portions of fruit, protein-rich foods flavoured with garlic, chilli, ginger, and complex carbs like sweet potatoes, and plenty of vegetables.
  3. Drink more water between meals. When your brain sends ‘thirsty’ signals, you often confuse these with ‘hunger’ signals.
  4. Don’t skip meals. By eating frequently, you’ll keep your sugar levels in balance, and never suffer the low blood sugar which can lead to sugar cravings. Foods rich in ‘good fats’ such as oily fish help you feel full for longer, so eat plenty of these.
  5. Exercise regularly. This releases endorphins, which make you feel good, a natural high to replace the artificial high from eating sugar.

Over time, your sugar cravings will subside, you’ll start to view sugar as a sickly poison, and your health and wellbeing will increase dramatically.