By Merran Lusher, ND
A temptress in disguise – sugar may be seductive, but she has zero nutritional benefits, is packed with empty calories and comes with a myriad of long-term health issues. WARNING: For you star-crossed sugar lovers, it’s heart-breaking disillusion ahead.
Suffice to say, most women have an innately higher craving for the sweet stuff than men. Nonetheless it may come as a surprise to hear that our sugar demands have serious biological backing. Evidence suggests that:
- Women need a certain percentage of body fat (approximately 20%) in order to maintain and sustain a pregnancy to full-term.
- Elevated oestrogen levels and hormonal fluctuations throughout the month may be connected to our sugar cravings.
- Sugar raises our levels of serotonin – a neurotransmitter made in the brain responsible for regulating mood. Women naturally have lower levels of serotonin than men and are, therefore, more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. So on a biochemical level, we would be forgiven for reaching for that afternoon hobnob.
- Many experts are now saying that sugar is as addictive as tobacco and alcohol, and should
be closely regulated. The average Briton consumes 34 teaspoons of sugar per day!
That’s a whopping 565% more than the recently updated World Health Organisation recommendation of 6 teaspoons per day. Doctor David Reuben, author of Everything you wanted to know about Nutrition says, “White refined sugar is not food.” Simply put, it is a pure chemical extracted from plant sources with a structure remarkably similar to cocaine.
Sugar comes in many forms including glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose and dextrose to name a few. As consumers are becoming savvier, manufacturers are following suit, cleverly disguising their sweet poison as unrecognisable labels to the layperson. Hidden within everything from the more obviously highly-processed foods such as soda, chocolates, cakes and biscuits, to the unsuspecting baked beans, ketchup, bread and peanut butter. The seemingly ‘healthy’ gluten-free cereals, snacks and fruit juices are also common adversaries.
If you think artificial sweeteners are a good alternative, then think again. Even more problematic than sugar these should be seriously avoided. Hidden within mints, cordials, chewing gum, diet and low fat products, common variations include aspartame, sucralose and sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, saccharin and mannitol.
Studies suggest that aspartame has been connected with neurological disease and associated symptoms include headaches, migraines, cravings, weight gain, elevated insulin levels, memory loss, muscle spasms, twitching, dizziness and seizures.
So Are You Addicted To Sugar?
- Do you need to eat something sweetevery day?
- Do you have routines around eating sugar, e.g. always needing to have a pudding, or biscuit?
- If you eliminate sugar for 24 hours, do you develop headaches and mood swings?
If you answered ‘yes’ to one of the above questions above, you may have a sugar addiction.
Avoiding it may feel like navigating your way through a minefield, but with some practical and therapeutic advice from yours truly, I can help you break the habit and set you free.
On that bitter note, here are my ‘Ten Good Reasons To Avoid Sugar’:
- Studies show sugar may fuel the growth and metastasis of unruly cells throughout the body.
- Sugar is linked to insulin resistance and diabetes, as well as blood sugar irregularities affecting mood, energy, fertility, stress and work productivity.
- Elevates oestrogen levels, which impacts hormonal health, e.g. menstrual irregularities, PMS and PCOS.
- Raises androgen levels, resulting in hirtsuism (facial hair) and the increased growth and thickness of hair in unwanted places.
- Causes acne and pimples.
- Accelerates the ageing process, reduces tissue elasticity and causes skin to sag and wrinkle.
- Increases the risk and manifestation of autoimmune conditions, e.g. Graves’s disease.
- Reduces satiety, increases appetite and fat composition.
- Elevates prostaglandin levels exacerbating pain during menstruation.
- Upsets the vital balance between good and bad levels of bacteria within our gut. Think IBS and bloating for starters.
Merran Lusher ND
Naturopath, Medical Nutritionist, Herbalist, Homeopath and Writer. Merran offers private health consultations across three of her practices at triyoga Primrose Hill, Chelsea and Soho.
To book an appointment or for more details visit www.gingerandthyme.co.uk