Five reasons to avoid sugar.
By Barry North, PhD, MPH
The holiday season is a time perhaps more than any other when we are tempted to eat sugary treats that are also often laden with fat. No wonder we get sick and gain weight over the holidays. If you need some more convincing to avoid sugar not only during the holidays, but all year round, here are five good reasons.
1. Sugar is addictive. The fact that most people find it difficult to limit their sugar intake does not mean that they have character defects. Sugar is an addictive substance – start eating it and you’ll want more. Research has documented the addictive qualities of sugar in both animals and humans, and shown that sugar acts on the same dopamine receptors in the brain that drugs stimulate.
2, Sugar is empty calories. Refined sugar is sugar that has been processed, bleached and chemically treated. It has no nutritive value to the body.
3. Sugar makes you fat. Consumption of large amounts of refined sugar promotes weight gain since foods containing refined sugar are densely caloric, and generally contain little fiber, which leads to overeating. Consumption of refined and processed foods also displaces calories consumed from healthier foods like sweet potatoes and black beans.
4. Sugar depresses the immune system. According to one study, 100 grams of sugar (the amount in a 5-ounce chocolate bar and a soft drink) can suppress your immune isystem for up to six hours! Most likely the reason kids and adults who eat a lot of sugar get sick often is because their immune system gets depressed, not because they are exposed to sick people!
5. Sugar contributes to attention deficit disorder. Many studies have demonstrated the adverse effects of poor diet on children, especially kids with ADD and ADHD. One study involved a million New York City school children in 803 schools in which sugar, along with coloring agents, artificial flavors, and preservatives were gradually eliminated in foods consumed at school. In children who were unable to learn grammar and math, there was dramatic improvement. There was a 15% gain in learning ability as compared to kids not eating the improved diet.
What about artificial sweeteners? If you are thinking about using artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar you may want to reconsider your choice. Artificial sweeteners have been promoted to diabetics as a means for controlling blood sugar, and to overweight people to help with weight reduction. However, there is no evidence to indicate that these products are useful for either purpose. Published research available for many years indices that these chemicals are harmful. Now a growing body of evidence suggests that artificial sweeteners may actually promote weight gain.
Aspartame is found in many diet products and has been for many years. There are more adverse reports to the FDA about aspartame than any other food additive. Splenda (sucralose), an alternative to aspartame, is not a good substitute, despite what the advertisers say. There is evidence that Splenda also has negative side effects. One study in rats showed that Splenda causes severe adverse effects, including a reduction in the number of many strains of beneficial bacteria, and increase in fecal pH. Adverse changes in gut flora and pH contribute to decreased immune function, decreased ability to absorb nutrients from food, decreased production of serotonin, and many other adverse effects.
Bottom line – There’s really no good reason to use artificial sweeteners! And if you are looking for a healthy beverage, try filtered water!
Dr. Barry North, located in Seattle, Washington, is a wellness educator and coach and a facilitator for the Wellness Forum, a Columbus, Ohio based organization that empowers people to take control of their health. An active sailor, kayaker, biker and swimmer, Barry long ago realized that to be able to continue doing what he loves to do, it’s important to remain healthy. He is passionate about sharing health information through classes, workshops, and consulting. Barry has a PhD in chemistry and a Masters of Public Health degree. He can be reached at 206-286-3820 or email@example.com. http://www.123forwellness.com/