Opinion

SPOTLIGHT ON NATUROPATHIC MEDICINE: Did you say sugar?

By Dr. Andrea Hornyak, Spotlight on Naturopathic Medicine

Sugar
(Fotolia)

Sugar (Fotolia)

The World Health Organization recommends that people consume a maximum of 30 grams of sugar per day. The average Canadian shocks their body with over 100 grams.

Limit packaged foods to no more than six grams of sugar per serving. If the cereal you eat contains 12 grams of sugar per serving, you are actually taking in three teaspoons of pure sugar.

Check Labels For Hidden Sugar:

High fructose corn syrup, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, malt syrup, molasses, fructose, maltose and dextrose

Hidden Sources of Sugar:

Smoothies, soda pop, ketchup, barbecue sauce, salsa, salad dressing, pasta sauce, frozen dinners, beef jerky, bread, fruit flavoured yogurt, unsweetened fruit juice, pudding, muffins, granola, cheese, milkshake, energy bar, sports drink, crackers, instant oatmeal and alcohol.

How Does Your Body Suffer with Excess Sugar?

Sugar Makes You Fat

When you eat a food that is high in sugar, it reaches your stomach and the sugar is absorbed into your small intestine and broken down into glucose. Insulin is released from the pancreas, which tells your body to use the glucose for energy. When insulin is high, leptin is blocked. Leptin is a hormone made in your fat cells which signals to your brain that you are full. So while your body’s capacity to burn fat is down, you still feel hungry so you continue eating. All this excess glucose is converted into fatty acids and moves through the blood to be stored on throughout your body.

Sugar Increases Stress

When you feel anxious, depressed, or tired, the stress hormone cortisol will rise in your blood. This is the point where you begin to crave foods high in sugar to make you feel better. When you eat those cookies or that chocolate bar, you will feel a surge of energy and temporarily happy from the sugar high, thanks to dopamine being released from the brain. Next, your brain unleashes serotonin to help relax you and the sugar spike quickly dives. You will then feel even more fatigue and your memory and concentration will suffer. Several problems accumulate in your body when cortisol has been elevated for a long time, such as insomnia, increased abdominal fat, frequent colds, and headaches.

Sugar Accelerates Aging

When sugar is broken down into glucose, it creates inflammatory by-products in every cell in your body. This leads to a decline in elasticity in your skin and subsequently forms wrinkles. This aging process advances even quicker, the more sugar you have circulating in your blood.

Sugar Makes You An Addict

If your blood glucose frequently goes up and down, you may experience low energy, mood swings, headaches and sugar cravings. A regular intake of sugar produces a steady release of dopamine. This results in your body requiring even more sugar to create the same good feeling effect, so you crave even more. This process is the same for addictive drugs like nicotine, caffeine, alcohol, cocaine, marijuana and heroin.

Sugar Causes Disease

Excess sugar deposits fat onto the abdomen, decreases good cholesterol, increases bad cholesterol and raises blood sugar and blood pressure. All of these things are grouped into a disease process called Metabolic Syndrome. Bottom line – you are at a high risk to develop diabetes, have heart disease and suffer from a stroke.

(Coming soon: Part 2 – How to Decrease Sugar in Your Diet)

Dr. Hornyak has been in private practice as a licensed Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine since 2006. For more information, phone the Norwich Medical Centre at 519-863-2338 or visit www.vitalforcenaturopathic.ca.