The truth about sugar

When it comes to nutrition everyone, even us trainers (I know shocker), has a struggle. Many people, including myself (gasp, I know), struggle with sugar intake.  This is due to fact that sugar is addicting, is in almost everything, and let’s faces it; it is delicious! But what most people do not realize is how much sugar is actually affecting your health and deterring you from reaching your fitness goals. Let’s take a look deeper into the effects of sugar on your body.

Sugar is addicting.

I know you have probably heard this time and time again but there is some truth to it. When consuming foods higher in sugar our brains increase the feel good hormone dopamine.  This, of course, makes you want to stick your hand back in that cookie jar and makes you want more sugar later. I know what you may be thinking, what about sugar found in fruits? Fruits do not cause the same surge in dopamine therefore we may finding ourselves reaching more for a candy bar or bowl of ice cream instead of an apple (Hughes, Locke).

Because sugar can be addicting when you try reducing sugar from your diet you may experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, moodiness, and fatigue. It is going to be hard for the first 3 days, but try to push pass those rough withdrawal days because the benefits outweigh the withdrawal misery. Because oddly enough too much sugar will cause headaches, moodiness and fatigue for a longer haul.

Excess sugar has been linked to headaches, fatigue, and moodiness.

Ever since I was a little kid I have struggled with anxiety, fatigue and constant migraines. I went to every doctor and specialist out there and no one seemed to ever ask me about what I was eating, which, truth be told; was a ton of sugar. I had headaches everyday and all I wanted to do after school was sleep. Things got so bad that I had to be moved into my basement because I had to be away from light because they would make my headaches worse.

After years of suffering I started food and migraine logging and discovered there was a correlation with sugar consumption and the timing of my migraines. Once I started cutting the sugar out of my diet I noticed that my headaches went away, I had a lot more energy, took less naps after school and I was in a lot better moods (although my mood swings could be related to those teenage girl hormones).  

Sugar affects your organs.

The most common effect of too much sugar on organs is that on the liver and pancreas, otherwise known as type 2 diabetes.  When the body has too much sugar the pancreas pumps out excess insulin causing damage to the pancreas; in addition, the liver will start resisting insulin and with that combination you are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes.  And because the pancreas has to excrete excess insulin your bloodstream and heart are also affected. The excess insulin causes your artery walls to grow faster and therefore can lead to heart attacks, heart disease and strokes (Hughes, Locke).

Consuming excess sugar can lead to weight gain.

Let’s go back to my first point that sugar is addicting and eating sugar makes us crave more sugar. Because sugar can be addicting it can lead us to consume an excess of calories on a daily basis; thus causing weight gain. I know I know; groundbreaking news here but I still thought I would mention it!

Now I do not want to come off like if you eat even a gram of sugar you are going to get migraines, kill your organs, and become morbidly obese. In moderation, sugar can be a part of a healthy diet but the key word is moderation. Start with slowly eliminating sugar from your diet. Begin by cutting out soda, add less in your coffee, or do not reach for that bowl of ice cream at night. When in doubt opt for better options to satisfy those sweet cravings like fruits, dark chocolate (portion controlled), or some Greek yogurt!

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