Today I want to share an article from my good friend Bianca Fontana. Bianca is the author and creator of www.thefatexperiment.com. She is a Nutritionist with a passion for preparing and eating whole foods that have a focus on low carb healthy fat living. She is here to share her knowledge and experience of this successful and healthy lifestyle with anyone who is looking to thrive, rather than just survive.
How to quit sugar…and why I think everyone should!
by Bianca Fontana
Sugar, more specifically fructose, is a sweet little monster that whilst tastes amazing (’cause let’s face it, it does, that’s why most of us love it), does very little good for us and our health, especially today when it is in almost EVERYTHING!
So what am I talking about when I mean “quit sugar”?
I’m talking mostly about fructose. Why? Well fructose is metabolised rapidly in the body. Much like alcohol, it is broken down in the liver and taken into the blood stream quickly. It doesn’t elevate insulin levels like glucose does but it does cause insulin resistance, not to mention a bunch of other metabolic problems and, like alcohol, leaves you with that lovely beer belly effect, that fat around your middle.
In addition to this, I’m talking about refined sugar. This is all the added sugar that goes into foods. In all sugary products, the amount of fructose varies. Sucrose, for example, also known as table sugar, is 50% glucose and 50% fructose. Other sweeteners touted as being really good for us are just as bad if not worse…let’s take a look at some of the sugars used out there and how much fructose they contain….
So, we understand a little more about the effects of fructose and how much our favourites have in them.
So why do I think people should quit sugar?
1. It is addictive.
For reals. Sugar gives us more pleasure than drugs like cocaine. More pleasure than drugs?! Are you joking?! No! The rewarding and attractive feeling received by sugar is seen to be greater than cocaine. And, on top of that, we don’t lose the feeling of pleasure we receive from sugar…it always gives us that high so we always crave more, unlike cocaine. This has been studied and proven…so how can we argue with that?! Sugar is literally addictive.
2. It’s leads to weight gain.
Notice how year after year, everyone gains just a little more weight? How the “middle-aged spread” became an expression as an assumption that when you hit your 40s, you will no longer be able to metabolize food like your younger self and will instantly put on weight? That it’s just because your older, eat too much and don’t exercise as much anymore, you’re just too lazy. But is this the cause? Did you ever stop to think that it might be a specific ingredient in your diet? That it might be sugar? That all those little sweet treats you indulge in “occasionally” add up…? Sugar causes weight gain, this is a fact. Study after study has proven this.
3. It also causes a bunch of other metabolic disease.
Now you thought weight gain was bad…but if you fancy diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, dementia or even cancer, then keep drinking soft drink, having dessert every chance you get, putting sauce on all of your food. Sorry to be so confronting and harsh but this is the reality and it’s a sad one. We see the western world in such a problematic state, in fact, it’s a state of emergency when it comes to people’s health. People who are sick because of their diet is all too common and it is costing everyone. Not only that, people are now dying younger and even children are dying before their parents.
Now I live in China and I am telling you that this epidemic is real here too…and it’s getting worse. I regularly see fat children and younger people. I think what you see even more of here though is skinny fat or tofi (thin on the outside, fat on the inside): women and men who have zero muscularity and are seemingly skinny. They eat poorly and don’t exercise at all. When in the corner store, the choice of drinks are so incredibly high in sugar: ice tea, sugary juices, milk drinks all with added sugar. I was informed upon arrival here that Shanghai is China’s sugar capital. That the Shanghainese people love their sugar…and it shows. The men and women here are not as obese as the people in Australia and the U.S but they carry all of their weight around their organs. The epidemic has not been announced but I believe it is on its way here too.
I’m betting that sugar is causing metabolic problems in other Asian countries too. My TV has ads for the Philippines and they are constantly for coca cola, ice-cream, KFC, sports drinks or other nutrition-poor packaged foods. I would bet that metabolic disease is a real problem now there too.
So those are a few reasons WHY I think you should quit sugar.
What do the nutrition experts think?
Based on my uni lecturers, the consensus seems to be that everything in moderation is ok. That sugar from most sources (natural or refined) is necessary because we need the energy for our brains, organs and cells to function. Not that they say to go and eat lollies but cereals and snack bars, low-fat yoghurts and lots of fruit etc, it’s all part of a “healthy” diet. I mean, how often have you heard someone say to have something sugary to eat or drink before doing a strenuous activity like running?! Or he/she is growing so “needs” the energy. As a teacher, it’s something I hear often, especially by the PE and health teachers. And this may do no damage in the healthy individual but let’s be real about the situation here…EVERYONE is affected because sugar is in EVERYTHING. Unless you eat meat and veg for every meal and prepare everything yourself, you can be guaranteed that there is sugar in it: your bread, your sauce, your crackers, your drinks, your noodles, your soup. You name it, there’s (usually) sugar in it. So when I hear my lecturers at uni say that sugar in moderation is fine, I go back to my first point and think, well, if it’s addictive and it’s in everything we eat, how can a little be ok? I know that on occasion, I would go to the bakery and get myself a big sugar-crusted jam donut. It was my favourite thing to eat, especially when I was feeling a bit down. But then it also became something for when I was celebrating – a reward. And then because I just felt like something sweet. Some people would say that I just didn’t have enough will power…but this is not a game of will, this is a game of biochemistry.
In fact, another expert and advocate for the reduction in the consumption of sugar, particularly in our kids, Dr Robert Lustig, says in his Ted Talk that it’s the “biochemistry that is the problem, not the behaviour“. This again links back to the idea that sugar is addictive and controls you and this often results in severe repercussions on your organs, your hormones and your cells.
I’m not going to refer to any GPs here…as much as I respect that all professionals have a place, I see far too many with bellies and giving out lolly pops to their young patients or hear the stories of how they are prescribing statins to their diabetic patients rather than telling them to stop eating sugar. Not to mention those doctors who told me I was crazy eating a high (healthy) fat diet and needed carbs for energy.
4. ‘Cause we currently eat waaayyy too much of the damn stuff.
Maybe this should have been point number one but many people are consuming double and even triple the required amount of sugar per day because it is hidden in absolutely everything from yoghurt to cereal to bread. The World Health organisation released new guidelines just last year about the amount of sugar we are advised to consume on a daily basis. They recommend that it should be less than 10% of our total daily energy but that if we drop it back to less than 5% of our daily energy needs, we will benefit even more. 5 This works out to be no more than 6 teaspoons a day, or around 25grams and for children, according to the American Heart Association, it is 3 teaspoons, around 12 grams. According to research, Americans average around a whopping 22 teaspoons of sugar a day! If I can do my maths right, that’s over 3 times the recommended amount!
5. Life feels better without sugar!
Seriously, it does. More sustained energy, consistent weight (no yo-yoing), better skin, better moods, less hunger etc… (of course it helps to couple this with lots of great fats to gain even more benefits!)
If you found this article interesting, visit Bianca's website to learn more about low carb healthy living.
To Your Health,
Izabela Your Primal Health Coach