‘Tis The Season Of Sugar
Of the 156 pounds of sugar Americans each consume every year, it’s likely that 20 pounds of that is consumed during the holidays. But before we laser focus on holiday bingeing, let’s clarify carbs. Because it’s really important to understand that it’s not just 156 pounds of sugar/high fructose corn syrup that deliver glucose into our bloodstreams. We also eat hundreds of pounds of other carbohydrates, like cereal, toaster pastries, potato chips, French fries, candy, cookies, pancakes, waffles, corn chips, pretzels, cake, pie, pastry, donuts, bread, pizza, pasta, muffins, granola, dried fruit, and cornbread.
When you eat sugar/refined grains/starches it causes the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine to be released in your brain. (Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that impart information via electric impulses in your brain.) Serotonin is the happy neurotransmitter and dopamine is exactly what you get when you drink, use drugs, shop, have sex, thrill seek. That neurotransmitter rush is the secondary thrill you get after the yummy taste of sugar/refined grains/starches. It’s what keeps people hooked. I’m not the sugar police. Just saying.
Sugar/carbs make people fat. That’s a no brainer. But this high carb intake results in the very toxic combination of glucose and insulin, which cause inexorable and insidious damage to our bodies on a cellular level.
Insulin has gotten a bad rap, but it’s a hormone that keeps us alive. What’s not good is eating so much sugar/carbs that the pancreas is forced to overproduce insulin. Prolonged high insulin levels are implicated in every single degenerative disease: cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes.
If too much sugar is released into your bloodstream, your brain registers this as an alarming situation. Sugar is toxic and can’t just remain in your bloodstream. Whatever is not immediately used has to be stored away. Your cells have locked receptor “doors.” Insulin is the “key” that opens those receptors and shoves the sugar safely inside, where it either fuels the cells or is held in reserve as ready energy called “glycogen.” But if you continue to flood your bloodstream with sugar, after a period of time your cells will be filled to capacity with sugar, and they will lock their receptors. As a result, your cells are now insulin resistant.
When insulin resistance occurs the pancreas secretes even more insulin, which hammers at the cellular receptors in an attempt to cram in more sugar. This battle between receptors and insulin will generate free radical production, and the damage begins. Free radicals are aberrant molecules that destroy DNA, the energy factories in our cells called mitochondria, cause inflammation that promotes disease, all of which spells accelerated aging.
Once your cells become insulin resistant, your body will produce less energy and your metabolism will be less efficient.
Meanwhile your pancreas will react to the alarming situation of insulin resistance by pumping out more insulin, resulting in too much sugar and too much insulin in your bloodstream. Your body will have no recourse but to turn all that extra sugar into fat. That fat is stowed around your waist first—don’t ask me why, as it falls under the heading of “Horrifying but True Bodily Mysteries.” Eventually even your fat cells will be stuffed, you will have both high sugar and high insulin floating around in your bloodstream which is defined as type 2 diabetes.
You may never make it all the way to type 2 diabetes, but you may notice a fat roll or tummy developing. You may notice your skin is slacker and your hair grayer than it was just a year ago. Eating sugar/carbs in excess is an addiction and comes with all the consequences of addictions.
Some Bad Things About Sugar/Carbs
“Glycates” (caramelizes) cells resulting in outward manifestations of accelerated aging (gray hair, wrinkles, sags, bags)
Accelerates aging via insulin (more of the above)
Breaks down collagen so that you have more cellulite
Can lead to alcoholism/other addictions
Causes and exacerbates GI problems like irritable bowel, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis
Causes cavities and periodontal disease
Causes fluid retention
Causes food allergies
Causes LDL cholesterol to become “caramelized” so it can stick to the sides of your arteries, resulting in atherosclerosis (cardiovascular disease)
Causes the addictive sugar high, which depletes happy neurotransmitters and leads to depression
Causes tissue to lose elasticity (slack skin!)
Causes yeast infections
Contributes and/or exacerbates autoimmune diseases
Contributes to osteoporosis
Develops hemorrhoids, varicose veins and spider veins
Increases blood pressure
Is cancer fertilizer
Is thought to contribute to the development of Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
Leads to fatty liver disease, kidney and pancreas disease
Leads to sex hormone imbalances
Makes you fat
Releases adrenaline from your stress hormones
Robs your body of minerals
Suppresses your immune system
Get Over Your Sugar Addiction
The human brain is not very smart. If you give it sugar it will demand more. It’s because of that yummy flood of dopamine we talked about earlier. Addictions are all about dopamine. The only way to get over a sugar addiction is to take a back door approach. You have to give your body and brain the building supplies to make enough happy neurotransmitters so that your brain chemistry is balanced—and you feel happy and in control. The supplies your body/brain needs are in a balanced diet of real, whole, living food. Amino acids (protein) in meat, poultry, whole dairy, and seafood supply the materials to make happy neurotransmitters.
It doesn’t take long to balance out the brain. To begin, you have to use a little willpower and make the effort to grocery shop and stock up on real food so you’re not reaching for the phone to order a pizza (refined carbs/sugar). Here’s a link to help you do that: http://www.nancydeville.com/blog/2011/11/how-to-shop-like-a-hunter-gatherer/. During the holidays, eating well, beginning with a protein-based breakfast will stop sugar cravings so that you can go to a holiday party and not knock down the hostess to get to the cookie platters.
Eating a balanced diet of real, whole, living food throughout the year will stop sugar cravings and binging. You will lose body fat, gain muscle, and halt and reverse accelerated aging. Starting a balanced, real food diet one week before Thanksgiving is the smart thing to do for yourself and your future. Not ending the holidays five to ten pounds heavier will be the best gift of all.
Peace, Fun, Love.
Your girlfriend in health,