Hidden sugar is everywhere. And it’s wreaking havoc on our hormones!
When we eat too much of it, it can disrupt our blood sugar balance and cause all sorts of problems. It’s not just the ‘empty calories’ that we need to worry about. More and more research is showing that it can have serious health impacts – from obesity and diabetes to heart disease, cancer and dementia.
Our grandparents used it for baking and in cups of tea, but today you can hardly find a supermarket food product that doesn’t have added sugar in the ingredients. Take a look at the ingredients in your ketchup, pasta sauce or ready meal. Sugar will usually be near the top of the list.
And the worst thing is that much of this sugar is hidden in supposedly healthy foods (and drinks).
Watch this video to see how shocking hidden sugars can be!
I hope you’re as shocked after watching that than I was researching it!
– Fruit juices and vitamin water? More sugar than Coke and Fanta.
– Skinny muffins and low fat yoghurts? Take the fat out and you need to put more sugar in to make it taste good.
– Healthy cereal bars? More sugar than a handful of biscuits.
– Skinny latte? More sugar than 2 doughnuts – seriously!
6 reasons to ditch your sugar habit for good
1. It’s making you FAT!
We need some sugar to live, every cell uses it for energy. But if we have too much, it is stored away for future use as fat. This is a cool design feature for when we needed our fat stores when food was scarce. I’m guessing there is little risk of famine where you live!
2. It can lead to Diabetes.
Insulin is the hormone that takes sugar out of our blood so we don’t have too much floating around. It takes the sugar to our cells to use as energy OR if we don’t need energy, fat storage. Too much insulin from too much sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, where the cells just give up taking it in – this is the main precursor to Type 2 Diabetes.
3. It causes hunger and cravings.
When blood sugar spikes, insulin removes it, then blood sugar dips and you crave more sugar. This is the blood sugar rollercoaster, which can lead to hormone imbalances (including stress, fatigue, PMS, low libido, mood swings, brain fog, memory loss, depression). Low blood sugar also encourages us to make poor food choices (those ‘must have chocolate now’ cravings?), leading to more blood sugar highs and lows (a vicious cycle).
4. It is highly addictive!
Sugar has been shown to increase dopamine in the brain, the same feel good chemical that is activated when you take recreational drugs.
5. It can lead to cancer, heart disease and dementia.
Studies have shown that cancer cells feed on dietary sugar. High insulin is implicated in many cancers, and high sugar intake (not fat!) is associated with high cholesterol and risk of heart disease. Insulin resistance is a major risk factor for dementia and Alzheimers.
6. It is highly ageing.
Sugar binds to proteins in the body causing cell damage, wrinkled skin, stiff joints, cataracts and higher risk of age related diseases.
SO, watch your sugar intake and don’t forget that white refined carbs break down to sugar too!
To balance your blood sugar;
- Choose low GL foods like wholegrains, nuts, seeds, organic meat, fish and dairy, plenty of fruit & veg
- Avoid stimulants (caffeine, alcohol)
- Eat protein and fibre with your carbs – both help to slow down release of sugar and fill you up
- Eat regular meals to avoid the carb cravings
- Swap low fat to organic full fat – to fill you up and to reduce sugar cravings
- Get enough sleep – lack of sleep makes you hungry the next day!
Schulze MB et al., (2004) Sugar-sweetened beverages, weight gain, and incidence of type 2 diabetes in young and middle-aged women. JAMA.
Rada et al., (2005) Daily bingeing on sugar repeatedly releases dopamine in the accumbens shell. Neuroscience.
Liu H, Heaney AP (2011) Refined fructose and cancer. Expert Opinions on Therapeutic Targets.
Arcidiacono B et al (2012), Insulin resistance and cancer risk: an overview of the pathogenetic mechanisms. Exp Diabetes Res.
Johnson R et al., (2007) Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. American Society for Clinical Nutrition.
Turner et al., (2013) Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease exhibit a high prevalence of undiagnosed impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Alzheimers & Dementia.