I have been an exercise, nutrition and health coach for over 15years. I am continually learning, and while here in the USA, I am topping up my nutritional knowledge to become a board certified Nutritional Therapist.
Each season Fitbynature runs a Sugar Intervention, but it’s also for very personal reasons. Firstly, while I hope never relevant to you, I’ve just been given the three year all clear from brain cancer! My neurosurgeon says I’m his star project and asked me how I did it. You probably guessed – no sugar.
Because it turns out sugar is a cancer feeder.
But call me crazy I also decided to run the New York marathon as testimony to my recovery – without sugar! Actually I’d like to extend that to all processed food because alongside simple and refined carbs, they all turn into sugar in your body. But carbo-loading is the norm right, for running a marathon? Well, my husband, Tim, and I both did the NYC marathon, and without sugar (and in 3.34, qualifying for Boston!).
So I started applying what I’d learned to my clients and not only did they lose weight, but also their grumpiness, ate healthier without me having to ask and were just plain happier! One of my clients sent me photos of his belly each Monday for two months as he lost 10kg (20lb). It was so awesome to watch. As was his increasing smile on camera. Oh and meeting his new girlfriend, who he’s still with!
The Sugar Intervention is only 2 weeks without sugar. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.
Why we all need a sugar intervention
Because sugar is everywhere!
I’m not just talking sugar-sugar – white, brown, raw, granulated sugar – or it’s healthier cousins – honey, molasses, maple, rapadura, coconut sugar. Maybe I shouldn’t even mention it’s artificial two-faced friends – aspartame, HFCS etc.
Dang, I’m talking all processed foods, especially refined flours.
No matter what the source, all these products are quickly broken down into sugars in your body, which cause a rapid increase in blood sugar. But what does that have to do with anything? Well, all of them mean high blood sugar, and high or low anything in your body is not a good thing. Just like you, your body prefers things even-keel, thank you very much. It’s a survival thing.
High blood sugar means your body has to secrete the hormone insulin to lower blood sugar. Ok, let’s step back a bit here. First your body’s gotta have all the things it needs to make the hormone insulin in order to secrete it right? So you gotta eat right and then be able to digest it right and then make the funky little hormones that pretty much control your world. Unless that is of course you’ve given yourself over to the white devil, sugar?
Maybe giving yourself over to sugar doesn’t sound too bad. Except that sugar is devoid of anything good for you. It actually costs your body to use it, especially when refined because the processing pulls all the minerals out that you need to digest it. That leaves your digestion needing to pull additional minerals out of your food, or heaven forbid your own bones, if you don’t have what it needs.
So I’m gonna come right out and say that there is no physiological need for sugar or other simple or refined carbohydrates of any kind.
But what about your brain and red blood cells, which rely exclusively on blood sugar? They’re pretty crucial as far as living goes! Yep, not even them, which makes sense though when you think about it. If an even keel of blood sugar is so vitally important, and especially to your brain and blood which do everything every day for you, surely your body has a redundancy in case you don’t eat when it needs? Scary if your body had to reply on what you ate alone to survive! Well it does but there’s back ups, just in case we’re not all body physiologists! It’s kind of science-y but look it up for yourself; it’s called gluconeogenesis and means your body can make its own blood sugar from proteins and fats, and it’s not only more efficient speed-wise but in energy output too – and I’m all for more bang for my buck. And that’s what I’m storing my fat for, I don’t know about you!
Now let’s just add a wee spin to the mix. You’ve eaten some sugar, your body releases insulin like there’s no tomorrow: high blood sugar can do some serious damage, even kill you, so scares the whatsit out of your brain which freaks and tries to get it down ASAP. This often means that over zealous insulin works a little too well and sends us into a blood sugar low, called reactive hypoglycemia. Then we crave something to lift us back up and the body releases insulin like no tomorrow and sends you into another low. You get the picture: a ricochet effect of highs and lows, which begins what has become scarily clichéd now – insulin resistance. And I don’t know about you, but I definitely know the feeling of reactive hypoglycemia: need a coffee, need a treat, need a coffee…. It’s just the insulin resistance or diabetes I don’t want to know: hence, the Sugar Intervention.
And it’s not just this energy rush and lifelessness that sugar’s doing, or robbing our body of nutrients we need to make other stuff happening, it actually does a lot of damage to your gut and immunity, and your stress levels, and your glands, like your adrenals and of course your sex glands too! We’ll get into them nice and slowly in our daily email way trough the Sugar Intervention.
Sugar addiction isn’t only about food we know are sweet like candy. Unless you avoid packaged and processed foods you eat more sugar that you realize. Breads, pastas, sauces, salad dressings, peanut butter, healthy cereals and granola, deli meats: they’re all manufactured to taste and feel good consciously and unconsciously.
Now processed foods and their sugar coating also have a second evil relative, hydrogenated and trans fat. This gets kinda complex but save to say it’s man made fat where the actual structure of the fat is moved (trans) from where your body normally knows how a fat behaves. But eating fat makes you fat does it so I’ll just not eat any fat? Heck no! Fats in your body are essential for making every cushion-covering membrane in every cell in your body! I’m talking cells that make your daily energy, ones that make your sex hormones, your eye, your stomach lining, and even your brain. It’s in your brain that both sugar and trans fats play their biggest havoc in my book: both interfere with your brain chemistry. And since their invention, these man made fats are making changes to these cell membranes and they’re making us sicker than we’ve ever been before, even though our medical technology keeps getting better. Add to that the more you eat the more you crave: something’s gotta give and that’s sugar, and all its progeny.
Each season why not challenge yourself to two weeks without sugar; new habits, new healthy will abound!