Sugar: is it food or poison?
Refined sugar is ubiquitous in our culture. By simply visiting a local supermarket, one is convinced that the most common ingredient found in our food today is refined sugar. Skipping the obvious sources like candy and soda (which usually take up 2-3 islands), sugar is hidden in almost all processed foods in the form of evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, and molasses. . But how unhealthy is sugar? Is it just its high calorie content that induces obesity and all its associated diseases? Or is sugar much more harmful than the calories it provides?
As a personal trainer, I often advise my clients to avoid refined sugar. Many of those who are active still believe that as long as they are active, sugar has no impact on their health. Based on the research I have conducted, that is a false statement. In fact, refined sugar can seriously discredit your fitness efforts.
First, sugar is not a real food! Refined sugar is stripped of all its nutritional values. As a result, refined sugar cannot be used effectively by the body and, if it is not used for immediate energy, it will be stored in the liver. The liver’s capacity for sugar is limited. Daily intake of refined sugar can cause the liver to release sugar back into the bloodstream in the form of fatty acids. This often causes unhealthy weight gain that could lead to obesity and eventually other problems like heart disease.
Refined sugar has no vitamins or minerals. However, the real dangers of refined sugar are its metabolites; purvic acid and abnormal sugar containing five atoms. According to Dr. William Coda Martin, a poison is any substance that can induce disease. By this general definition, refined sugar can easily be classified as poison. These metabolites are toxins to the body, mainly because they interfere with the respiration of cells. If the cells do not receive their oxygen, they will eventually die. The death of these cells can take a long time. Therefore, the daily intake of sugar can result in degenerative diseases such as cancer, diabetes, osteoarthritis, and many more.
Effects of sugar on health and fitness. Sugar has been linked to poor health and obesity for several decades. The following list explains how sugar can impact your health and impede your fitness goals.
o Refined sugar filters the reserve of vitamins and minerals stored in your body. The depletion of these nutrients prevents the process of rebuilding the tissues and therefore negatively affects the response to exercise.
o Refined sugar increases acidity in the body. To neutralize this acidic state, the body extracts calcium from the bones and teeth, making them weaker and more susceptible to degeneration.
o Excess sugar is stored in the liver. When the liver’s capacity is reached, the excess sugar is released into the bloodstream in the form of fatty acid. The sugar is then stored as fat in vital organs (possibly causing them to malfunction) and in the least metabolically active area (i.e. the belly).
o Refined sugar invades the lymphatic system (disease-fighting system). This results in an increased production of white blood cells and therefore the rebuilding of the tissue slows down. The response to strength training is diminished as the body cannot rebuild itself as effectively.
o Since sugar has an effect on the lymphatic system, the immune system is less resistant. Therefore, one is more susceptible to attacks on the body (i.e. common cold).
It is clear that sugar is more harmful to your health than the mere calories you can add to your diet. Be careful when choosing foods that may have refined sugar, and try to replace them with natural sweets such as fruit, maple syrup, stevia, or raw, unfiltered honey.
Stop Sugar Crash and get your energy back
What happens with what energy fluctuates throughout the day? Does refined sugar have something to do with it?
Chances are high that those who consume refined sugar often will experience a sugar crash. Americans consume approximately 175 pounds of refined sugar annually. Sugar is ubiquitous in our diet for two reasons. It is cheap to produce. Almost all highly processed foods in supermarkets contain some corn syrup or other sugar. Corn grows easily throughout the Midwest and is relatively inexpensive to harvest. Second, processed sugar products like protein bars are easily stored and replace REAL foods for many people.
Lastly, many people consume sugar because it gives them a little burst of energy. Sugar is not digested in the stomach, but enters the small intestine and from there into the bloodstream quickly. This leads to rapid insulin secretion that causes the tissue to absorb sugar at an accelerated rate. This is why we feel awake after consuming sugar. However, over time, the blood sugar level drops and most feel fatigued, irritated, and lethargic.
The body learns quickly. So the more sugar we consume, the more we crave it. The metabolism becomes dependent on refined sugar, which is why most of us feel the need to consume it. Consequently, in an attempt to avoid the sugar crash, most consume sugar throughout the day to maintain focus and energy to get through the day.
The following are some tips to avoid the sugar crash:
o Have a balanced breakfast without sugar (ie eggs, bacon, and oatmeal)
o Limit sweets to 2 times a week
o Stay away from white flour for lunch and eat lots of veggies
o Eat 4-5 metabolically balanced meals a day (protein, fat, carbohydrates)
o Eat sweets only after a large and balanced meal (with a lot of protein)
o Eat lots of complex carbohydrates throughout the day (vegetables and whole grains)
o Don’t eat sugar before bed