Sugar – A dangerous drug?

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It’s high in calories, has no nutritional value and is highly addictive but it’s legal. Sugar is one of the most overused harmful substance in the Western world yet as humans we are still consuming it in its masses.
Obesity is on the rise and costing the NHS millions and a contributing factor is sugar in our diets. When we talk about sugar we are talking about simple sugars, the type you get in cakes, sweets, chocolate, fizzy drinks, processed/packaged foods and the stuff we add to cereals and tea.
Let’s look at the science behind why sugar is so bad for the body. It contains no fibre, no minerals, no proteins, no fats, no enzymes, only empty calories. What happens when you eat a refined carbohydrate like sugar? Your body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the incomplete food. Calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium are taken from various parts of the body to make use of the sugar. Many times, so much calcium is used to neutralize the effects of sugar that the bones become osteoporotic due to the withdrawn calcium.
Likewise, the teeth are affected and they lose their components until decay occurs and hastens their loss.
So why is it so addictive?
When we consume sugar it enters our body and will instantly raises our blood sugar levels, where we get a buzz and feel good. After a short time that will then drop (low blood sugar level) and we then get the craving again and that need to bring us back up. Similar to the effect drugs have.
Now let’s look at the effects sugar has on work performance and mind processing. When your blood sugar levels rise through consumption you’ll experience emotional highs, which only last for a short while and then you’re back down again. This is where your slumps in the day happen, tiredness, lethargy and lack of concentration. Not good if you are trying to maintain high levels of performance at work.
So how can we manage our blood sugar levels?
Make sure that you have protein with every meal. A 1:3 protein – carbohydrate ratio would be a good yardstick. Protein will not only leave you feeling fuller and less likely to reach for a bad snack later in the day, but it will also help balance out the carbohydrate in the body. You also need to be consuming fat (the good type) found in fish, avocado, nuts and oils which will help your metabolism and eliminate cravings amongst other things.
Here’s a shocking statistic; today we have a nation that is addicted to sugar. In 1915, the national average of sugar consumption (per year) was around 15 to 20 pounds per person. Today the average person consumes his/her weight in sugar.
So what can we do to make a change?
For starters it would be to cut out some of the above which has been mentioned. What will help with cutting sugar cravings and consumption will be to make smarter food choices and planning meals. Ensure you eat breakfast, drink more water and eat more vegetables. For lunch and dinner try and fill 50% of your plate up with vegetables and include fish, turkey or chicken. At breakfast try real oats (not the microwave ready brek type) fruit and natural yoghurt or even poached eggs. If you are not hungry at breakfast then try a smoothie. Blend oats, fruit and a natural/greek yoghurt into a blender and drink it. That way you’re not spending 15 minutes eating something you don’t want to eat.
If you know you’ve got a busy day at work the next day then prepare your food the night before. Make a salad with lots of greens and meat or fish for lunch, pack some fruit, vegetables and natural nuts for a snack. Don’t go go unprepared and when you get hungry in the day don’t reach for the most accessible food from the canteen (normally a chocolate bar, pastry or crisps).
If you are someone who over indulges with a lot of sugar then going cold turkey will be the wrong approach. Start by making small changes, cutting sugar out of your tea, having water with freshly squeezed lemon (if you need flavour) instead of a fizzy drink and in time you will make the healthier choice a part of your everyday routine.
To summarise if you really want to lose weight and become healthier then cut out sugar. If you have no motivation to want to cut down sugar then maybe the fact that continued use of it in our diets will eventually lead to health problems, which in turn will effect our work, home life and leisure time may change your mind!
Train hard, eat right and enjoy the journey
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