The Not So Skinny on Sugar
When you think about most holidays what is the one thing most of them have in common? No itís not the all out food table or Aunt Bettyís hugs and kisses its candy. Yep candy. Most holidays really do revolve around the candy. Think about Valentineís Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas and all those peeps and M&Mís made just for the holidays. Itís that sugary, chocolate, marshmallow delight that everyone loves to devour. Why are we looking at candy when most foods use sugar? Candy is something everyone knows and loves so it just makes sense to look at that side of the sugar issue.
The Not So Skinny on Sugar
Most candy is made up of two dangerous ingredients - hydrogenated fat (trans-fatty acids) and sugar. We saw the removal of trans fats from almost all restaurants because they were finding a direct link to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimerís disease. Studies have shown that trans fats donít allow for any safe level of intake.
What about that sugar? The common denominator with almost every jaw-breaking, teeth-rotting, incredibly tasty piece of candy out there that has itís spell on us, urging us to satisfy that one last sweet tooth addiction. Leaving the kids out of it, consider this fun fact; the typical adult consumes 15 to 20 teaspoons a day - we definitely have a lot to learn.
The Skinny on Sugar
Sugar comes in many forms including white sugar (sucrose, aka table sugar), brown sugar, cane sugar, sugar in the raw, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, candies, pop, jams, ketchup, baked goods, juice, several packaged foods and many low-fat products for added taste. Refined flour, chips, pretzels, muffins, white rice and pasta also end up as sugar in our body. Although sugars are safest in their natural, unprocessed forms such as maple syrup, honey or sugar in the raw Ė all forms of sugar possess similar health risks.
The Skinny on Energy Highs and Lows
When we consume foods high in sugar, the glucose enters the bloodstream, quickly causing blood sugar to rise. Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas, which causes the sugars to enter the cells. This sugar is either used as immediate energy or stored as fat to be used by the body later. Once the sugar is used up for energy, the levels in the blood quickly fall back to normal or even below normal.
During the holidays this ebb and flow is quite evident in children. They get all wound up, running around like crazy, then crash out on the floor amidst their toys, where they are found lying asleep in a ball and chaos all around. This drop then triggers another craving for sugar to restore the balance that once was, causing the process to start all over again.
The Skinny on Compromised Immunity
In the early 1970s, studies were done Ė and again in 1997 Ė that showed a suppression of white blood cells after sugar was consumed. White blood cells act as the bodyís first line of defense against a virus or bacterial infection. This leaves our immune system weakened and compromised, and to top it all off, this process increases exponentially with the regular consumption of sugar. Many doctors have noted that adults who snack on sweets at their desk are usually the ones admitted with the flu, shingles and other illnesses.
The Skinny on Aging
Glycation is a process where sugar molecules abnormally attach themselves to cells in the body. This imbalance of sugar causes the cells to begin to shrink, dehydrate and wrinkle. When this occurs, tissue elasticity reduces and causes sagging of the skin, stiffening of the arteries and organ function goes out the window. Sugar also has an effect on the brain, eyes and nervous system, and donít forget about what it does to your teeth.
The Plain Skinny on Sugar
If avoiding the highs and lows, having an immunity system that works at its best and preventing premature aging is important to you then reducing your sugar intake is also important. Cutting out sugar altogether is the best way to go but its better if you take tiny steps to eventually reach that plateau. Talk to your doctor before making any radical changes in your diet. Itís important to keep track of your insulin levels at all times when making these types of changes and your physician can help in that area. The next time you reach for that candy stop and think about the skinny on sugar and go for a more nutritious snack instead.