Blood Sugar: What You Need to Know

I’ve been thinking a LOT about sugar lately, and with the 10 day Kick the Sugar Habit Challenge coming up on January 27th (There are still spaces by the way…..  challenge and register here!), it’s been on the forefront.  I often give myself “permission” on the holidays and when I’m traveling to give into my cravings.  But, once I do this it is a seriously vicious cycle.  I’m to the point right now, that when I come home at night, even if I’m coming home from eating a fabulous meal, I still want something sweet.  Currently, I have zero snacky things in my house, which helps, but I don’t want these cravings anymore.  Be gone! So, I thought it would be helpful this week to talk about what happens IN YOUR BODY when you eat sugar and those fluffy, comforting carbs.  It’s going to get a little detailed, but I think there is importance in knowing how your body responds, and how your body will, over time, become increasingly damaged from consuming these foods.

The Low Down of Blood Sugar

Your body needs around 1 tsp of glucose  circulating in your blood stream at all times….too low (hypoglycemia) and too high (hyperglycemia) are both dangerous and can lead to problems. Some Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

  • Shaking
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty in focusing
  • Sugar cravings
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Many other things too…….

Many of us have symptoms of hypoglycemia, which lead us to eat lots of quick fixes….simple carbohydrates and sugar, which eventually can lead us to the path of high blood sugar.  Here’s a simplified explanation why: Your body is constantly switching between burning fat and burning the glucose from your meals.  It’s very efficient at doing this.  When you eat a meal, preferably one that has nice fats and proteins, your body will slowly digest and glucose will be released into your blood stream at a nice, slow steady pace throughout the day.  Perfect to keep you alert and running optimally.  Usually there is a little more than you need, so your pancreas will release insulin, which is the hormone that signals your cells to take in any excess glucose from your blood stream.  Your body wants to keep your blood sugar stable. More often than not, however, we are eating foods and meals that contain too many simple carbohydrates.  You have a scone and a cup of coffee for breakfast.  Or a bagel with cream cheese for lunch with that nice glass of orange juice.  You aren’t eating enough fat, protein and fiber to slow the digestion, so the sugars from your food are quickly digested and flood your blood stream all at once. If this cycle happens too often, then eventually the cells can become resistant to the insulin that your pancreas is releasing.  They become hard of hearing.  So the pancreas releases larger and larger amounts of insulin, which will cause two things eventually: 1)        Your pancreas becomes tired from overwork. 2)       The cells stop listening altogether, so you ALWAYS have high blood sugar and high insulin. With all that extra circulating insulin, is also makes it hard for us to use the glucose stored in the cells.   We then need to eat! (vicious cycle!)   High blood sugar can cause a lot of damage.  It can damage delicate blood vessels, cause chronic inflammation, and a host of other things.  High insulin can cause problems as well, this study from 2007 found that high insulin created damage to blood vessel walls causing cholesterol and plaque to build up.  So not only is diabetes a concern, but heart disease, high blood pressure, and a host of other problems can result. The good news, is that even if we have been abusing our body for the last 10 years, and we’ve noticed abdominal fat has built up and our cells are starting to show wear and tear from all that high blood sugar and high insulin…..our bodies are highly sophisticated.  The body has a tremendous ability to heal itself once we start taking care of it.  It is never too late. Start with Challenge!  Then we can go from there…..

What You Need to Know About Sugar

It's time for another   10 Day Sugar Challenge back by popular demand!!   I love to do a challenge right before the holidays because it really does help us come back to a state of balance BEFORE we get to indulge a bit. This will give us a a great foundation to head into the holidays. Join me and a group of others for 10 days of taking the sugar out starting November 8th!   Register here!

I'm reposting an old blog about sugar...it's an oldie but goodie.  Take a look!

Sugar.  It seems that it's a problem for everyone, and that's because it is! Many clients come to me with sugar being a large part of their diet, and oftentimes even people who think they don't eat a lot of sugar, realize that they do.

Personally, I have made huge strides in lessening the amount of refined sugar in my diet. I used to hold the sugar canister over my cup of coffee for 5 whole seconds. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Really.  This happened.  But I decided one day to try it without and now, I can't stand the taste of sweetened coffee. The great thing about a sweet tooth is that once you put a little bit of effort into taking sugar out of your diet, the cravings start to disappear. Things will start tasting disgustingly sweet to you.  I promise you.

The problem with sugar isn't just the empty calories and the tooth decay. It's a whole host of other things. Read on.

1) Sugar makes you fat! More research is coming out on the idea that different calories are metabolized differently in the body, and the way sugar is metabolized will cause more of those calories to be stored as fat. (If you happen to have an extra 90 minutes lying around, watch Robert Lustig's youtube video, The Bitter Truth. Or if just an extra 10, watch Sean Croxton's summary of that video. Enlightening)

2) Sugar could give you wrinkles. Boo, right? An article in Discover Magazine reported that sugar in the blood can bind to collagen in a process called glycation.

3) Sugar suppresses your immune system. Can't quite beat that cold? Are you eating a ton of cough drops? Ann Louis Gittleman in her book, Get the Sugar Out, writes that the ability of cells to kill off foreign invaders can be reduced up to 5 hours after we ingest sugar. Also, it reduces the production of antibodies, interferes with the transport of vitamin C, and makes cell walls more permeable to outside invaders. Ooof.

4) Sugar disrupts your body's mineral balance. In sugar refining, nutrients such as chromium, manganese, cobalt, copper, zinc and magnesium are all stripped away. Not only are many of these the same minerals that help to control our blood sugar in the first place, but without them our bodies then have to use our own nutrients to absorb and metabolize sugar.

5) Sugar is an ANTI NUTRIENT. It's not just empty calories. It pulls nutrients, that I would rather keep, away from the body. Gittleman also writes that it interferes with absorption of minerals and can increase the secretion of B vitamins and almost ALL minerals, but especially calcium and magnesium. Double oof!

6) Sugar can feed cancer cells. Cancer cells feed on sugar. Also, with a continuous influx of sugar into the blood stream, our insulin levels are chronically elevated and insulin can trigger the growth of cancer cells.

7) Overuse of sugar can lead to insulin resistance, which can lead to type II diabetes. The more you eat foods that directly send sugar straight to the blood stream (think foods that are almost pure refined sugar, like soda), the more your body has to work to bring your blood sugar back down to a safe level. (Too high or too low blood sugar is dangerous.) If the body becomes overworked by what you are consistently eating, pretty much it will just stop working properly.

8) Unfriendly yeast in your body feeds directly on sugar. Ladies, have you ever had a yeast infection? Unfortunately, they are really common, and for you, it is imperative that you take sugar out! Men, you are equally at risk?  Jock itch? Athlete's foot...  You almost certainly have an overgrowth of Candida, which is the yeast that naturally occurs in our body, but can run rampant if the conditions are right. However, an overgrowth of candida can have all sorts of symptoms (jock itch, headaches, brain fog, fatigue), so even if you never experience yeast infections, candida can still run rampant. Men are also affected!

9)  Sugar is addictive.  According to Nicole Avena, and her great youtube video, eating sugar releases dopamine and affects our pleasure centers every time we eat it.  No wonder we crave it, we want to feel good!

There are many more things I could include, but these are some of the important ones. If you think these facts are meant to scare you....they are! It is important for us to realize the far reaching consequences of over indulging in refined sugar; it is not a harmless food. My personal experience is that once I start eating it, I start craving it all the time. It is extremely addicting.

But the good news again, is that as we start to cut it out of our diet, we will lose our taste for it. I work with many of my clients to cut sugar out for a week, and invariably they report craving it significantly less. It is possible! And those that dramatically reduce consumption lose weight.  It's really as simple as that.

So join me in the intention of cutting out the sugar. It is something that requires a little effort for sure, but it is one of the most health promoting habits you can have.