Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Until you really start reading labels, you just don’t quite realise how much sugar is in everything. And I mean everything! It comes under many names and is cleverly wrapped in many supposedly healthy disguises, but the impact of dietary sugar on your blood sugar levels and how it’s absorbed in the body remains the same. Let’s explore...
What Is Sugar Exactly?
Sugar is a sweet-tasting form of a soluble carbohydrate of which there are over 50 different names and several forms. By far the most popular is sucrose, or table sugar. When consumed in food or drinks, sugar compounds are quickly soaked up and converted to glucose by the human body. This provides a big burst of energy, but is very short lived as you may have experienced, and ultimately leads to an unpleasant sugar dump. Afterwards, this can leave you craving more, cranky and feeling a little off depending how sensitive you are to sugar and its effects.
Sugar Is As Addictive A Narcotics
Many clinical health studies and nutritional research have confirmed that sugar can have adverse effects on the brain similar to addictive substances such as nicotine, cocaine, and morphine. Scary thought.
When consumed, sugar triggers the release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens — the same area of the brain implicated in response to heroin and cocaine. With regular consumption, sugar actually messes up and changes your brain so that it becomes tolerant to the sweet stuff, causing you to require more to get the same effect not different to a drug addict.
Sugar been shown to trigger the release of endogenous opioids in the brain. The release of these brain chemicals, triggers an intensely pleasant rush much like heroin addict might experience after injecting. All of this leads to a vicious cycle of cravings and needing more sugar to feel good.
Am I scaring you yet? Good!
How Sugar Adversely Affects Your Health
Well, now that you understand why sugar is so addictive and hard to quit, let's look at the other health impacts of the sweet stuff.
Regularly consuming sucrose or sugar, has been linked to the increase of poor health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. The common sweetener also drains your energy, increases your risk of depression, and contributes to poor dental health — just to name a few.
Detox From Sugar And Go Sugar-free
So we can all agree, going sugar-free is best for your overall health and wellbeing. But detoxing from the sweet stuff and going fully sugar-free comes with it own hurdles to overcome. Here's how to prepare yourself...
You might feel cranky
We’ve all heard of ‘hangry’, you know when a person is so hungry they get angry, frustrated and bite your head off without warning. Well, get ready for ‘shanky’ when a person is detoxing from sugar and makes hangry seem like a walk in the park. Withdrawing from sugar can cause many unpleasant physical and emotional symptoms. It is different for everyone, but the severity of symptoms can really affect a person’s mood, physical wellness and even trigger emotional conditions like anxiety and depression.
You might feel more tired initially
When you quit sugar, your body is forced to adapt and find new sources of energy. Depending on how long you have consumed sugar and to what degree, can affect how intense your withdrawal symptoms might be. Most clients I help through this process, experience varying degrees of withdrawal nausea, crankiness, cravings, changes to sleep patterns, headaches and/or fatigue as a result of going sugar-free as body detoxes and adjusts to nutrient foods. These usually pass within 1-3 weeks depending on the individual.
You might notice weight or fat loss
Yay! Gotta love this one. When the body metabolises foods, nutrients circulate the body fuellign every cell in our being. What is not absorbed by hungry cells, is stored in vital organs and the leftover in our fat cells. This is why eating densely nutritious food is so important. Sugar provides little nutrition and is essentially empty calories. For this reason high-sugar diets increase the chance of weight gain while low-sugar diets maintain and help you lose weight. After the first initial weeks off sugar, clients usually start to notice less bloating, better digestion and a natural, effortless balancing of their body weight.
Your taste buds will change
Imagine having a bite of a donut or ice cream dessert and being repulsed. It happens. Once the body has fully detoxed from sugar and you clean up your diet, your taste buds begin to change. What was once appetitising is no longer. Why does this happen? Because it is not just your mouth that has taste receptors, your gut does too!
Sweet taste receptors present in the gut influence the release of hormones that control your blood sugar, hunger, and appetite. As you eat less sugary foods, these hormones are directly affected and in turn lessen your sugar cravings.
Your sugar cravings will disappear
As we discussed, sugar is as addictive as cocaine. As your body begins to detox from the sweet stuff, your cravings for sugary treats and food items will gradually change, and in time, completely disappear.
I promise you. The hardest part is simply quitting. After that, your desire to consume sugary foods will be reduced to on occasion, if at all.
Do you have a sugar addiction?
Is it hard to resist that chocolate bar at the end of the day after a stressful afternoon? Do you crave the sweet stuff to give you a boost to get through your work low come 3 pm? Let’s chat.