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WGL:Bonus Shawn Chhabra- Sugar Addiction Explained
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Shawn Chhabra- explains Sugar Problem: We know that most people consume that 1/2 cup or so of sugar every day. This is an amount that has increased substantially over time. Consider that a human being in the year 1800 would eat around 18 pounds of sugar every year (sounds like a lot doesn't it?), but that same person in the year 2010 was eating around 180 pounds in that same space of time!
And the sugars of 2010 are radically different from those of 1910, and not in good ways.
Why on earth are we eating so much of this stuff?
- Because we want it.
- We want it because we have developed addictions to it (and for some of us this addiction began with our first bottle of baby formula).
- We want sugar because it is marketed to us by "big business".
- And because it is the massive commercial food industry that adds sugar to foods that we don't even know contain sugar.
We are going to look at all of these issues, but for now, let's just consider how sugar gets into our bodies and our diets.Sugar in the Modern Diet
As an example, over the past forty years added sugars have started to appear in:
- Baby foods and formulas;
- Salad dressings and marinades;
- Processed cheeses;
- Canned sauces and seasonings;
- Canned fruits and bottled juices; and
- Frozen meals of all kinds.
The addition of sugar to such foods is bizarre to say the least. After all, what baby needs sugar in their formula, or why does cheese need to be sweetened? The answers are many, but begin with a few simple truths.
One is that we are just plain confused about how our bodies work and what we should be eating for true and optimal health.
The bulk of this book is going to address this particular issue, but also the second reason that sugars are added to foods as well. And that is that the commercial food industry is actually encouraging people to consume the products that commercial farmers grow.Why Sugar?
Large scale food makers produce foods that are cheap, filling, and capable of being processed into many different forms, including sweeteners. And these sweeteners are the ones we have been cued (some say "trained") to prefer or develop a taste for.
A single illustration of this can be found in the use of corn. In the current era around 55% of all "sweeteners" that are put to use in drinks and foods will be made from corn. This is in addition to the various corn fillers that bulk up foods ranging from sliced meats to pet foods.
This is also why the abundance of soy, corn (used to make corn syrup), and wheat products seem to fill our grocery shelves. Some studies have shown that there are almost no products available without one or more of those three major food crops in their lists of ingredients. And yet, many people are sensitive or allergic to them and these foods may serve no nutritional function into the foods in which they are added. Added sugars are a prime example of this.Added Sugars are a Growing Problem
In a 2012 article in US News and World Report, two journalists made a significant point when they said that the food industry was marketing "bigger, juicier, saltier, sweeter, crunchier…most of all, more." And it is that last word, "more", that seems to be the problem. Almost every manufactured food has more and more processed ingredients, and this is causing many foods to be the same as boxes, bags, and cans of chemicals instead of true food sources.
Adding sugars to many different kinds of foods may create a market for them, but they also force people to develop a taste for ever sweeter (and the same thing goes for added salt making people crave saltier foods) foods and beverages.
As an example, the soft drink known as Coca Cola was once made strictly with cane sugar. Because the modern palette favors foods that are much sweeter, American bottles and cans of this beverage are now made entirely from corn syrup - which has a sweetness factor around 20% greater than table sugar (sucrose).
So, you don't even have to own a sugar bowl to add sugar to the diet every single day. Just drink a single can of soda and you are getting a huge dose of sugar, but if you eat a package of snack crackers, you are probably getting a lot of added sugar as well.
Don't forget that any fruits and vegetables, grains or breads, and even dairy products that you eat will also have natural sources of sugar as well. These are the types of sugars that kept people at healthier weights less than a century ago, but which are becoming the lesser consumed types.
All of this sugar consumption adds up (quite literally) in the body, in the form of fat, health problems, and addiction. It can get pretty overwhelming when you realize just how much sugar you are asking your body to process each day, and what it actually means to your health.Sugar in the Body
Why is sugar so overwhelming? We'll keep this as simple and straightforward as possible, but you do need to understand what happens when you eat sugar.
The entire body needs energy - right down to the tiniest cells. If they don't have energy, they don't work. If our cells stop functioning, our tissues, bodily fluids, and organs cease to operate as well. As an example, for your skin to mend from a simple little scratch it requires energy devoted to making new cells, shedding old ones, and fighting infection at the site of the injury.
You need energy all of the time and from head to toe.Energy Crisis
This energy comes from the foods we eat. Food is made up of many things. The basic "macronutrients" (which are called macro because we need them in huge quantities) are fat, protein, and carbohydrate. We also have to take water, fiber, vitamins, and minerals from our foods as well.
Our bodies are amazing machines where the digestion and metabolism of food is concerned. Cells understand what to do with each component, where to send it, and how to use it to function properly.
Drink water and it is distributed properly, eat fiber and the body uses it to cleanse the digestive system, consume fat and the body wants to burn it up for energy - unless something else is already being used for that purpose. And that is where sugar becomes a problem.
All foods are, basically, digested in similar ways. We put them in our mouths, chew them (which introduces them to enzymes), swallow them (introducing more enzymes and triggering "metabolites"), and these break the various parts of the food (protein, carbohydrates, fats, waters, etc.) into smaller components that the cells know how to use for energy.
When we eat carbohydrates (and sugar is categorized as a carbohydrate or "carb"), the enzymes will break it down into "glucose". This is then absorbed by the body and allowed to enter into the bloodstream, and is why we often talk about our "blood sugar" levels. If you have ever guzzled a sports drink or glass of juice, you know that glucose can hit the blood stream almost immediately.The Race to the Cells
Ideally, however, your diet should produce very little changes in blood sugar. Instead, it should keep you at an "even keel" and allow you to feel hunger when food is needed, to feel energized when that is required, and to have enough stored energy to help with any physical challenges that are not too great or overly long.
Endurance athletes, as an example, have to train to run dozens of miles, lift heavy weights, or swim for an hour or more. The average human does not need to concern themselves with the creation of the massive stores of energy and highly developed muscles that endurance demands. Instead, it is best to eat a balanced diet suited to lifestyle.
When we eat such a diet, the macronutrients will not all be put to use by the same metabolic processes, though they can often overlap along some of the "pathways" used to transfer materials to the cells, organs, and tissue. Protein will be put to use in making muscle, hormones, and transporting signals between cells - among other things. Fats and carbs should be used for energy, with fat providing more than half of the body's energy requirement.
Fat always breaks down into fatty acids that the blood recognizes and uses for any cells that require energy. When fat in the diet is not immediately needed for energy, it is put into storage as…you guessed it…fat.
Unfortunately, the size of fat cells is unlimited and we can store as much fat as imaginable. This occurs two ways - as adipose tissue that we see on most parts of the body and as fat that rests atop organs. Neither is very healthy, but it is the unseen fat that causes the greatest risks. And it is always best to simply choose a diet and lifestyle that keeps as little fat on the body as possible.
Carbs, as we know, enter the bloodstream as glucose and is gobbled up by cells that need energy that very moment. This is why our modern, carb heavy diets will prevent us from burning up fat as energy because carbs win the race and get to the cells first.
The undigested glucose that remains after the cells have taken their fill of energy is sent for storage in the liver. Now, the liver is good at distributing this sugar into the body whenever we are low on food - such as when we are sleeping or in between meals. It can also send carbs into storage as fat to prevent wasted energy too.
However, when our bodies are kept low on carbs at all times, the digestive system starts to use fats as energy. It takes it directly from the foods ingested as well as tapping into any stored fat on the body. In other words, if you are low on sugar and simple carbs, the body liquidates fat instead.
Look at it this way: You use a 21 day sugar detox. At the end of the time you have only a tiny reserve of glucose stored in the body. Whenever you eat, the body knows to send all of the energy directly to the cells and put only that tiny leftover bit into storage, which is going to be used up during daily exercise and general activities - including sleeping.
Before that 21 day detox, however, you were carrying a few more pounds of fat because your body was used to sending glucose into your cells for energy and storing most of the fat you ate because it was rarely being used. By turning around the processes, eating more fat and no sugar, you are telling your body that it should always use fat to create energy.
Now, this does not mean that a diet void of carbs is a good one. Remember that carbohydrates are called macronutrients for one main reason - the body needs them.The Brain and Carbs
This is especially true for the brain. The brain is a tremendously vital organ and its cells cannot operate on fatty acids (the acids produced from fat in the diet), but instead need glucose to function.
While people following low carb diets like to argue that the body will create "ketones" that provide enough energy to cells (such as brain cells) that do not metabolize fatty acids, there is always the need for glucose.
Even if the liver and kidneys are relied upon to create glucose from available resources in the body, it would require a tremendous amount of protein to ensure this occurs. And there is always a risk that the body will have to liquidate muscle in order to create adequate supplies of glucose for the brain and other similarly difficult cells.
So, in summary, you must eat all of the macronutrients if you are to remain as healthy as possible, but you do want to keep firm control on the quantities and quality of the macronutrients you consume.
Just knowing that your body prefers to use fat as a form of energy proves that reducing carbohydrate intake and cutting out the valueless forms of it - sugar and simple carbs - is going to improve metabolism. And metabolism is a very important matter.Metabolism 101
You need to look at metabolism in two different ways. The first way is the "technical" one in which the macronutrients you consume are broken down into the energy you need to remain alive and functioning.
As we just explained above, the kidneys and liver might be able to "synthesize" some glucose in order to help the brain meet its needs for energy, but this is not a very reliable process because you may not eat enough protein to allow the organs to do this. It proves that the technical processes of metabolism are incredibly complex and work best when they are fed by a very well rounded and complete diet.
Your body metabolizes the food you eat and the fluids you drink and dispenses all of the nutrients into the cells. It is not, however, a perfect system because you control the foods and beverages you put into your body and these may not always be "the best". It is also imperfect because it still operates in an "ancient" way and clashes with a modern diet.
As we explained above, the common choice to indulge in too many simple carbs and sugars means that the body's natural tendency to burn fat is interrupted by a poor dietary choice. Ancient human beings were not big on sugar and simple carbs - in fact, they didn't really encounter them at all. This means that the body has been programmed and designed to metabolize fat for energy but is blunted in its natural pathways by the modern reliance on sugar.
This stops the body from being a good fat burning machine and it also impacts metabolism by preventing nutrients from being distributed properly and by slowing the pace of things to very low levels.The Metabolic Rate
The second way to look at metabolism is as a sort of "rate" or "pace" at which the body performs the processes described in the technical definition of the term. For example:
How fast does your body use up the energy (or calories) that you ingest?
How fast is the metabolism of other members of your family? After all, around 5% of your metabolic rate has to do with genes.
How much exercise and activity do you do each day?
How muscular is your body? Muscle burns more calories than fat, so people who are fit tend to have "faster" metabolisms.
All of these things will have an effect on the rate of your metabolism, and one of the things you want to always seek to do is to increase the speed and make your metabolism faster.
What do we mean by faster? Generally speaking, if you are going to cut your sugar addiction it will automatically involve taking steps that result in an increase in your body's metabolic rate. This is because you will cease to rely on carbs as a primary source of energy and turn more to fats instead. This will create a scenario in which most of the food you consumed is used by the body immediately - this is a fast metabolism.
Slow metabolisms are those that don't need all of the food eaten and send it into storage for later metabolism into the cells. Thus, you are going to carry extra fat because of a slow metabolism.
Developing a faster metabolism means you are going to eat more often than you do now. For example, people who eat every two to three hours are stimulating the metabolism to get to work, and this leads the body into a beneficial pattern. Rather than having a body that is trying to avoid starvation (because you are only eating every five or six hours), the body that eats every two to three is going to feed its muscle and not its fat.
For instance, you skip breakfast almost every day and don't really eat until dinner. This sends an emergency signal to the body that food is in scant supply. Yes, it sounds primitive, but human evolution is still impacting our very modern bodies. So, whenever a meal is skipped it works as a warning sign to the body that some fat storage may be necessary over the next few meals. It also creates a pattern that holds the metabolism at a slower pace to ensure that the body is not using up all of its energy. In other words, your body is not burning calories very quickly at all.
This problem or pattern is reinforced if you skip meals or eat lightly all day and then stuff yourself at dinner. Sure, the total calorie load for the day is relatively low, but you just ate them all at once. This tells the body that you may not have ongoing access to food and it begins packing away fat to help you through the issue.
If, however, you tell the body that food supplies are not a concern, it will just feed the muscles and skip the whole fat storage thing. And this is particularly true if you are eating all of the "right" things every two to three hours.Eating Right is a Major Key
“Sorry, there´s no magic bullet. You gotta eat healthy and live healthy to be healthy and look healthy. End of story.”
? Morgan Spurlock, Don't Eat This Book: Fast Food and the Supersizing of America
By that we mean that you are eating miniature and complete meals that feature a lot of fiber, fat, and protein.
For example, a small salad with chopped egg or chicken is a great example of an ideal meal.
You want to consider how your body metabolizes the foods you eat; and consuming protein (which takes twice as many calories to digest as carb or fat) and fiber is putting your body's metabolism to work, giving it loads of nutrients, and telling it that fat storage is not needed. It also helps you feel satiated while keeping blood sugar completely under control.
Yes, we are back at blood sugar. This is because we cannot get too far from or avoid this major issue.
If we accept that nutrition is a major component of a faster metabolism, and that sugar is nutritionally void, we can see that sugar is no good for our metabolic processes. Nutrients are meant to give us the materials that our bodies cannot make on their own, and well chosen foods are great for helping us with this need. However, sugar and many of the simple carbs do not work in this way, and so they should not figure prominently (or appear at all) in the diet.
If our diets were ideally suited to the modern diet or the SAD, the body would be able to use up glucose right away to give the energy needed for motion, activity, and basic functions. However, this is not the case. Modern people don't usually eat optimized diets, and so the body is forced to take that energy (glucose) and store it in the cells for later use.The Function of Insulin
To trigger this storage process the body has to create insulin. If the body cannot make enough insulin, the sugar stays in the blood stream and causes a lot of damage. This is most commonly seen in the disease known as diabetes, and why injections or doses of insulin are required to keep it under control.
So, when we eat carbs, the body breaks them down into glucose, and this is released into the bloodstream through the digestive tract. The body then makes insulin to tell the different cells to use the glucose, and this allows the blood sugar to decrease. This, in turn, tells the body to stop making insulin, and this slows down the amount of glucose going into the cells.
What that paragraph describes is a rise and fall in blood sugar, which we all experience many times per day. It is why we get hungry, tired, energized, etc. It is also a relatively delicate balancing act that is made more difficult by the consumption of simple carbs that are so close to glucose that the cells cannot use them properly.Simple Carbohydrates
Here is what we mean:
You eat a donut that is chock full of sugar, fats, and carbs. This donut has around 300 calories meant to provide the body with energy. However, these calories have very little actual nutrition - such as vitamins, minerals, or even fiber to help with digestion. So, you eat this donut (and you probably drink coffee, milk, or juice with it too), and this introduces simple carbs to the body. These are carbs that are so close to pure sugar that the body doesn't have to do much to process them.
They are also frequently called "empty" calories because they give the body the "potential" for creating energy, but do not provide much in the way of actual nutrition.
With both nutritious and empty calories, the body releases a flow of insulin to tell the cells to use this sugar as energy. However, you are not likely to need that many calories-worth of energy at a single instant (remember, we are talking about a 300 calorie donut). Just consider that you are not often jogging or doing a lot of physical work as you eat a donut with coffee.
So, your body now sends that glucose into storage - as fat. Also, it is unlikely that your digestive system is going to remain satisfied for very long because of the lack of nutrients and fiber in this sort of "meal", and you are going to be hungry again in a very short period of time.The Major Problems
This tells us that frequent meals made up of simple carbs will cause you to:
- Experience highs and lows in blood sugar;
- Boost insulin creation and fat storage; and
- Feel the need to eat more often - and to crave more sugar.
Sadly, the story doesn't end here because simple carbs are also void of nutrients too. They are actually known to decrease the level of nutrient in the body because they require the use of nutrients and minerals to be fully digested.
After all, that bag of white sugar, bottle of soda, or piece of hard candy are all made from refined sugar. This is a substance that has been entirely depleted of protein, minerals or vitamins. It has nothing needed for metabolism and digestion, and that means that it "takes" without giving anything in return, creating a negative result.
They also are known for their "free radical" content that can lead to inflammation and cellular damage in the body. This is why sugar is known for causing a lot of wear and tear on many organs and leading to physical signs often associated with aging or even with drug use.
Sugar is not dealt with properly in the body, it tends to result in "incomplete" carbohydrate metabolism that can leave behind materials that the body is unable to manage. Just consider:
- One of the materials created by the breaking down of glucose is pryuvate or pyruvic acid. This accumulates in the brain and the red blood cells. Because pyruvic acid is a metabolite, it can actually impair cells from getting enough oxygen and functioning as needed. Red blood cells appear in all organs, and when cells within organs die because of this metabolic problem it is usually a sign that degenerative disease of the organ or system will begin.
- We mentioned "acid" above. It has to be pointed out that the consumption of sugar makes the body an overly acidic place. This has one immediate and harmful impact - loss of bone density. Whenever the body is out of balance in this way, it pulls calcium from any available source including the teeth and the bones.
- We know that leftover glucose ends up in the liver in the form of glycogen. We also know that there is a limit to how much of this the liver will safely retain. When your daily diet has a lot of sugar and simple carbs converted to glucose, it can make the liver expand and begin shedding the glycogen. It turns them into fatty acids that are sent into storage in any available fat. This adds to the fat cells and is the most basic explanation of how your pants might get tighter and your belly a bit bigger when you eat a sugary and high carb diet.
- Fat doesn't just appear in visible places (as we mentioned earlier). When the fat cells have accepted all of the fatty acids possible, the blood takes the remaining fat and delivers it to storage areas on top of major organs. This forces such vital organs as the liver, heart, and kidneys to slow down and perform badly. When organs are under strain from fat, it negatively impacts all other bodily systems. Circulation is poor, lymphatic channels do not drain properly, swelling increases due to blood pooling, red blood cells lose their quality while white blood cells increase in number and tissue creation declines.
- Production of cortisol increases due to high insulin production. This happens when we eat too much sugar and too little nutrient. The body releases insulin to request that cells accept the sugar from the bloodstream. The process by which the brain is told that blood sugar has stabilized is not as fast as it could be, and this often allows the body to make too much insulin and to create a condition known as hyperglycemia.
This creates a craving for sweets in order to help boost the blood sugar back up to a safe level. The issue also puts the body and the brain in serious danger, and this cues the release of cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Cortisol communicates with the liver and tells it that an emergency is occurring and that stored glycogen has to be released to counteract the rapid decline in blood sugar. However, most people have already eaten sweet foods to counteract the problem, and so there is yet another surge of blood sugar. This, clearly, creates an ongoing problem that is almost impossible to stop unless sugar and simple carbs are eliminated.
- Cortisol production is a difficult task for the body's adrenal glands, and this can unbalance the entire hormonal system altogether. And this can lead to a long list of ongoing health problems ranging from depression and allergies to degenerative diseases and obesity.
Yes, that daily candy bar, can or two of soda, or spoonful of sweetener in your coffee could feasibly be wreaking havoc throughout your entire body.
In our discussion about fructose and glycemic index in the next chapter, we'll look even more at the science behind sugar's ability to make us look older, fatigued, and generally unwell. For now, it is simply important to understand that it does have such powers over our bodies.
Of course, all of this should come as no surprise because human beings are not really meant to eat diets high in processed and refined foods. Everything from sugar and white flour to trans fats and even certain starchy vegetables were not really part of the human diet over the millions of years of human evolution.
Our bodies are not meant to consume these processed foods, and so they cause a lot of troubles when we do eat them. Even such "healthy" foods as whole grains were not part of Paleolithic humans' diets, and this is why we see so many food related allergies and diseases.Hidden Sugar
Can you benefit from simply cutting out all white sugar? Yes, but you have to know about the hidden sugars in other simple carb foods too. These include:
- Starchy foods that are simple carbs such as white potatoes, white rice, white flour, bread, pretzels, crackers, pasta, bagels, etc.
- "Natural" sugars such as brown sugar, honey, sugar cane juice, raw cane sugar, and the different nectars (such as agave) that are being touted as good alternatives.
- The different syrups such as maple, brown rice, high fructose, malt, etc.
- Chemically created sugars such as dextrose, sucrose, and fructose.
- Lactose from dairy products such as yogurt, cream cheese, and some packaged cheese.
Now, that list might really feel a bit overwhelming. After all, you might wonder, will I ever be able to eat something like a cheese sandwich or a bowl of cereal again? The answer is a most definite yes, but it is also that you probably won't find such foods all that appealing once you break a sugar addiction.The Solution
Sugar is an addiction. The human body does not need refined sugar, and certainly does not benefit from eating it on a daily basis. While the body and brain require "carbohydrates", this is not ever going to mean the same thing as refined white sugar, or too many simple carbs.
Carbohydrates give the body a way to create energy, but choosing a steady diet of nutritionally void carbs is going to make you gain weight, suffer from all kinds of health problems, and live in a way that is a bit out of control (much the same as many drug addicts).
Instead, a human body benefits from the fiber and nutrient rich ways that sugar might enter the blood stream - such as when ingested in various fruits and vegetables or high quality protein or dairy. We don't ever need those "sugar loads" that we constantly dump into our blood streams.
The reason that modern humans are plagued by diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and strokes or heart attacks tends to begin with diet. If most people would go on a sugar detox it would make for a lot of positive changes in terms of health care.
For example, rather than eating a cookie or two (or five) each day, it is far better for the body to consume a high protein food such as a single hard-boiled egg or a slice of chicken. This doesn't affect the blood sugar though it allows the body to create all kinds of energy.
Additionally, when we consume complex carbohydrates such as those in vegetables, fruits, and most high fiber foods, we create a "long, slow burn" of energy that reduces hunger, converts cells into little fat burning machines, and generally allows us to remain free of common health complaints.
So, the solution we propose is a sugar detox diet that is carefully planned to eliminate every single source of unneeded sugar. We are going to suggest a 21 day diet as this is the typical length of time to destroy the drug like "pathways" and regulation that a life of sugar eating creates. It is also a scientifically suggested length of time to create or alter any specific habit, and sugar is most certainly a habit.Twenty-One Days and Done
Yes, in three short weeks you can overcome a lifetime of bad dietary habits, but we won't lie and say it is easy.
This is because sugar does indeed act just like a drug in the brain. Studies have shown a few very relevant facts. These are:
- We are always told that sweets and sugary foods are "bad", and because of this, many people follow a trend of avoiding sugar and junk food and then binging on large amounts of it. This is the same behavior that drug abusers follow, and when it applies to sugar consumption, it creates certain hormonal reactions in the brain that are similar to commonly abused drugs.
- Sugar causes people to behave in an agitated manner or to experience withdrawal when it is totally eliminated from the diet.
- Chronic periods of sugar binging cause hormonal responses in the body and the brain. Sugar energy hits the brain cells at all levels, and this means that each time you binge on sugar it impacts the brain. Studies have shown that lab animals given the same sort of sugar laden diets of sugar addicts experience brain behaviors similar to people struggling with drug use.
- Sugar appears in many ways, and even a meal with white potatoes can trigger a bad reaction, just like a small exposure to a difficult drug.
- Sugar sensitization occurs in those who eat a lot of it. This means that their bodies continually absorb more and more of it, without creating the same response. Thus, sugar is a drug because it allows someone to need more and more to get the same reaction.
- Studies show that the pleasure factor of sugar causes most creatures (humans and lab animals) to eat around six times the amount of food needed.
This tells us that it is imperative to begin cutting out all of the unnecessary forms of sugar. We can get more than enough "sweetness" from an all natural diet, and it just takes a few weeks of hard work to cut the addiction.
Not only will we cease to harm our bodies at the cellular level when we bring our sugar consumption to an end, but we will get our diets under control, our appetite will become natural rather than artificial, and anyone following this simple program will shed up to five pounds in the first week and then more weight each week thereafter.
Will it be easy? No, but it will be well worth it. This is because most people who cut their sugar addiction will look better, feel better, sleep better, reduce a lot of the symptoms of illness or disease caused by sugar and simple carb consumption, and generally help their bodies to begin functioning at optimal levels.
Let's take a look at a sugar detox diet to see just how simple it is to cut out sugar and begin to repair our bodies from the cells out!Warning: In case you experience any physical or mental health problems like anxiety, depression, or other drastic mood changes while eliminating sugar from your life, please see a doctor.