My low sugar challenge is officially over. Well, not totally over, hopefully it is a new lifestyle change for me. During these last 12 days I have really focused on keeping processed sugar OUT of my diet. It has not been easy, as a SAHM somehow little bits of sugar sneak into my diet everywhere. My body had a “sugar inflammation” timeout. My boys could probably guess what that means. I am proud. Even though I did suffer from many of the classic sugar withdrawal symptoms, after I got over the “hump”, my body and mind felt much clearer.
So what have I learned from this low sugar quest? Many Things~ Good and Bad. My body felt the difficult sugar detox and cravings(which still come and go), but around day 7 I felt energized and much more balanced. I kept 1 Tablespoon of raw honey in my diet and that really helped my body bounce back each morning. I am obviously sensitive to sugar, which makes me fall into this category of probably having chronic inflammation (maybe because I was raised on Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Fast Food). I have been reading a lot about inflammation from many sources. There are some very helpful sites that really explain how the body handles sugar and what it does to try to cope with an overload of sugar. This is an article from a few years ago that explains it nicely.
“New research is revealing disturbing links not just between sugar and obesity, but also between sugar and inflammation. Inflammation, of course, has been implicated as a major factor in a number of vitality zapping diseases, from cancer and diabetes to atherosclerosis and digestive disorders.
On the spectrum of dietary dangers, processed sugars are on a par with unhealthy fats. “High-fructose corn syrup is the primary cause of obesity in our culture,” says Elson Haas, MD, author of Staying Healthy with Nutrition. “Our bodies simply aren’t built to process all that sugar.”
Still, to date, sugar doesn’t have nearly as bad a reputation as it probably deserves. One of the reasons it slips under the radar is that connecting the dots between sugar and disease requires widening the nutritional net to include all refined carbohydrates (like processed flours, cereals and sugars of all sorts). This may seem like a fine point, but it’s an important distinction.
Most dietary sugars are simple carbohydrates, meaning that they’re made up of one or two sugar molecules stuck together, making them easy to pull apart and digest. Complex carbohydrates, like those found in whole grains, legumes and many vegetables, are long chains of sugar molecules that must be broken apart during digestion, therefore offering a longer-lasting surge of energy. The presence of naturally occurring fiber, protein and fat in many whole foods further slows the sugar-release process.
The more processed and refined the carbohydrate, as a rule, the faster it breaks down in the digestive system, and the bigger the sugar rush it delivers. That’s why refined flours, sugars and sugar syrups pose such a problem for our systems.
The body is exquisitely designed to handle small amounts of sugar. But refined carbs deliver a larger rush than our bodies were designed to accommodate, or even cope with. In ancient times, hunter-gatherers coveted the occasional piece of fruit or slab of honeycomb as a rare treat and source of rapid-fire energy for, well – hunting and gathering.
“Refined sugar is a genetically unfamiliar ingredient,” says Jack Challem, a nutrition researcher and author of The Inflammation Syndrome (John Wiley & Sons, 2003). “A lot of health problems today are the result of ancient genes bumping up against modern foods.”
To wrap your head around sugar’s destructive powers, it helps to understand how the body reacts when it meets the sweet stuff. With each gulp of a sports drink or soda, for instance, simple carbohydrates are quickly dismantled into simple sugar molecules (glucose) that pass directly into the bloodstream. As a result, blood sugar rises markedly. To bring levels back to normal, the pancreas releases insulin, which lowers blood-sugar levels by escorting glucose out of the bloodstream and into cells.
If energy needs are high at the time sugar hits the bloodstream, that sugar is put to good use. But a too frequent or too heavy supply of sugar pushes the pancreas into overdrive, causing it to release too much insulin – a spew instead of a squirt. And an excessive release of insulin spells inflammatory trouble.”
Wow. Makes me want to put down my can of soda. Just kidding! No soda in my house, but it does make me think twice about what sorts of treats I let my kids eat. My new rule for sweets, we can eat them (in moderation) when we bake them. This is mainly for the boys because they are young and I want to teach them that desserts are made at home, not a store, fast food restaurant, or processing plant. I want to teach them something important about their health. Our parents may not have had access to this information, but WE DO! We can make the right changes and make a difference starting today.
~Green Boot Girl