Why Sugar & Artificial Sugars Are Bad For You?

Why sugar & artificial sugars are bad for you by Rose Burnett

The biggest problem with sugar is it is habit-forming and leads to constant cravings.  The more sugar you have, the more you crave it. 

If you want to lose weight and balance your blood sugars, the first thing to remove from your diet is Sugar, all forms of it. 

It wreaks havoc with your natural appetite thermostat that lets us know when we’ve had enough to eat.

Sugar affects the reward centres in our brain and activates the sensors in our mouth and intestinal sugar detectors in our gut.

Sugar can significantly increase the driving forces behind our motivation to eat. And consuming sugar also leads to ‘sugar spikes’ in our blood glucose levels. 

Sugar can initially give us a burst of energy followed by dip in concentration, digestion and mood.

This constant ‘spike and dip’ process affects our endocrine regulators like insulin and our gut, and brain.

Leading to more cravings for sugary food.

Watch this Short Video on Sugar Facts with Rose Burnett – 8:13 Minutes

Studies have shown that foods that don’t taste sweet seem to be metabolized in a different way, which makes it easier for us to control our portion intake.

By removing sugar from your diet, the aim is to balance out your blood sugars and reduce your psycho-emotional connection to food.

As well as resetting your appetite thermostat, so you recognize when you are full. A ‘win-win’ for your body, health and emotional well-being! 

The Truth About Artificial Sugars and Sweeteners

Artificial sugars are known to contribute to an addiction to overly sweet foods. Avoid any products containing artificial sugars and substitutes.

They can lead to the development of glucose intolerance and other metabolic conditions that result in higher than normal blood glucose levels.

Common types of artificial sugars include aspartame, sucralose, Acesulfame K, saccharin, xylitol and sorbitol.

Avoid ‘diet’ products claiming to be low in sugar because they usually contain artificial sweeteners as the substitute and are highly processed. 

The Hidden Sugars in Food

We eat foods every day that are labelled and marketed as healthy, and yet they are often full of sugar.

My advice is to check labels on everything you are consuming, from packaged foods to sauces for the sugar content.

Generally anything with ‘ose’ on the end is a sugar. For example fructose, maltose, lactose, sucrose, glucose and dextrose are all forms of sugar. 

Other hidden sugars in food labels are things like corn syrup, cane sugar, fruit juice, caramel, carob syrup, dextrin and maltodextrin, rice syrup, molasses, honey, agave nectar and other types of fruit nectar.

Some foods surprisingly high in sugar are things like breakfast cereals, packaged breads, condiments (BBQ sauce, tomato sauce, relishes, pasta sauces), dried fruit, energy drinks, fruit juices, yogurt and dairy products, muesli and granola bars, protein bars and meal replacements, blended teas, Chinese takeaway and fast foods

What About Honey and Dried Fruit?

Whilst honey is more natural than sugar it is actually higher in calories than sugar, at 22 calories per teaspoon versus sugar at 16 calories. 

The beneficial trace vitamins and minerals in natural honey like niacin, riboflavin, thiamine and vitamin B6 only make up about 2% percent of honey’s total content.

And honey has the same sugar spike effect on our blood stream as straight sugar. 

Another one to watch out for is dried fruit. See this simple comparison of raw fruit versus dried fruit for the difference in sugar content.

Dates for example are 64.2% sugar per 100 grams, raisins 70.6% sugar and dried apricots 38.9% sugar.  

So ‘healthy’ snacks that contain dates, sultanas and other dried fruits are in fact loaded with sugar.

The Good and Bad News about Fruit

Fruit is a natural and healthy source of food containing vitamins, minerals and fibre and certain types of fruit can help to alkalinize your diet.

However, when overweight you need to limit fruits high in sugar from your diet.  Fruit contains a mix of sucrose, fructose and glucose.

For example, the total sugars in a Banana is 15.6 grams per 100gms compared to blueberries at 7.3 grams and Avocado 0.9 grams.

It is very important to reduce fruit intake to help balance out your blood sugars.  

And to consume only fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants.

See the Table below for the level of sugar in common types of fruit.

TABLE OF FRUITS AND SUGARS – FRESH & DRIED FRUIT
Total Percentage % of Sugar per 100 grams | High in Antioxidants (A-Ox)

 

FRESH FRUIT Total Sugars High A-Ox   Total Sugars High A-Ox
Apples 13.3 Starfruit 7.1
Apricots   9.3 Strawberries 5.8 Yes
Avocado   0.9 Tangerine 7.7
Banana 15.6 Tomato 2.8
Blackberries   8.1 Yes Watermelon 9.0
Blueberries   7.3 Yes
Cantaloupe   8.7 DRIED FRUIT
Cherries 14.6 Dates 64.2
Figs   6.9 Dried Apricots 38.9
Grapefruit   6.2 Dried figs 62.3
Grapes 18.1 Dried mango 73
Guava   6 Dried papaya 53.5
Honeydew Melon  8.2 Dried peaches 44.6
Kiwi Fruit 10.5 Dried pears 49
Lemon   2.5 Dried prunes 44
Lime   0.4 Raisins 65
Mango 14.8 Currants/sultanas 70.6
Nectarine 8.5
Orange 9.2 SUGAR COMPARISONS
Papaya 5.9 Table sugar 79
Peach 8.7 Yes Honey 81.9
Pear 10.5 Corn Syrup 71
Pineapple 11.9 Molasses 60
Plum 7.5 Brown Sugar 89.7
Pomegranate 10.1 Caramello Candy Bar 54.2
Passionfruit 11.1 Nestles Crunch 52.4
Raspberries 9.5 Yes

Warning - Carbohydrates that turn into Sugar in Our Bodies

The 'Top Four Carbohydrates' we consume that turn into simple sugars in our bodies are:

    1. Rice
    2. Pasta
    3. Bread and grains
    4. Potato

The simple carbs like white rice, pasta and potatoes are high on the glycemic index (GI) and are low in fibre.  Which can cause blood glucose levels to spike and crash.

Essentially our bodies handle all types of sugar in the same way.

And when your blood sugar levels crash, they can leave you craving more sugar.

When trying to lose weight its better to consume foods lower in GI.  Foods low in GI help balance out your blood sugars, reduce sugar spikes and cravings.

What is the Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) ranks the carbohydrate in foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels. Low GI is 55 or less, medium is 56 to 69 and high GI is 70 or above.

Some of the high GI Foods to avoid are:

  • Glucose (dextrose, grape sugar), high fructose corn syrup, white bread, most white rice, corn flakes, extruded breakfast cereals, maltose, maltodextrins and white potato.

What Else Creates Sugar Spikes?

Two other noteworthy substances that can create spikes in blood sugar levels are caffeine and alcohol.

Caffeine acts as a stimulant to the Central Nervous System making you feel more alert. There are benefits to drinking coffee regularly like a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia, and its antioxidant qualities.

Caffeine can also increase your blood pressure for a short time and increases adrenaline.

Overindulging in coffee can lead to side effects like insomnia and irritability. As well as withdrawal symptoms like headaches, anxiety, drowsiness and tremors.

It takes about 5 to 6 hours for half of the coffee you have ingested to wear off.  Caffeine can and does contribute to blood sugar spikes.

What about Alcohol? 

In small doses, alcohol can act as a stimulant making you more talkative and happy.

In higher does, alcohol is a depressant and depresses the Central Nervous System. This can impair memory and result in poor coordination, delayed reactions, impair your vision, hearing and ability to drive.

Alcohol can interfere with blood sugar levels and excessive consumption can reduce the effectiveness of insulin.  This can lead to high blood sugar levels. 

So when you are trying to lose weight, reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake assists with re-balancing your blood sugars.

In Summary

Consuming certain types of food can lead to high blood sugar levels, cravings and significantly increase the drivers that motivate us to overeat.

And the biggest problem foods that affect blood sugars and trigger emotional eating are - sugar, artificial sweeteners, starchy carbohydrates with high GI (like white potato, rice, pasta and white bread), dried fruit, high sugar fruits, dairy, caffeine and alcohol.

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