Our health begins with nutrition, and everything we eat helps or hurts our body. Some foods we commonly consume really hurt us, in ways of we are often unaware.
People used to eat real unprocessed food, full of nutrition and without added sugar, sodium, additives and preservatives. In this modern age, many of us don’t really think about what we are putting in our bodies as we rush through the necessity of eating - choosing fast food, processed packaged foods, and eating to feed our addictions (sugar, salt, fat).
There are so many reasons to be careful of our sugar intake. Sugar is associated with many serious health issues that are largely avoidable as well as depleting our immune system.
Too much sugar contributes to these mental wellness issues: sugar addiction, higher stress, depression, mood crashes, lack of focus, memory impairment, and changes in personality.
According to published articles, excess sugar is harmful to the brain, causing sluggish cognitive function and memory / attention issues as well as mood and emotional regulation problems. Ask any parent of a child with ADHD how sugar affects their child’s mood and behaviour. A high rate of sugar consumption is also associated with a greater chance of depression and a diagnosis of mental illness. Research also shows that ‘brain-derived neurotrophic factor’ decreases with high sugar diets. BDNF is an essential brain chemical responsible for learning and memory formation, and lowered levels are linked to dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Some of the damage to the brain can be corrected once we switch to eating food lower on the Glycemic Index (lower sugar). Supplementing with omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin can also help improve brain function.
Sugar is addictive and hard to give up. We crave something sweet as our body’s way of telling us that we need the vitamins found in fruit. Unfortunately, the food industry has taken advantage of our natural cravings, and created products that fill those cravings – products that are often detrimental to our bodies. In fact, these processed sugary foods often do a better job of fulfilling our cravings than natural fruit does and because they are so readily available, they replace vitamin rich foods in many people’s diets. If we are mindful of what our bodies are really asking for, we could resist the urge to go after the quick sugar fix when we have a sweet tooth craving, and seek out a (preferably organic) fruit source. Dried fruit is a great way to “get off” our processed sugar addiction as long as it doesn’t contain added sugar, and then we can work on replacing the dry fruit with fresh fruit whenever we can. Processed sugar can be as addictive as cocaine which may be why so many manufacturers add it to their products. However, it can also one of the hardest substances for our bodies to metabolize – causing metabolic stress, inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, cognitive disfunction, mental illness and decreased immunity, just to name a few health issues.
Changing our dependence on sugar means we have to change how we shop, including more fruit and vegetables in our diet and limiting or cutting out processed sugar. Please never shop when you are hungry as we are more likely to reach for crap food that satiates our hunger with added sugar.
Claire Nielsen is a health coach, author, public speaker and founder of www.elixirforlife.ca. The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional health and medical advice. Please consult a doctor or healthcare provider if you're seeking medical advice, diagnoses and/or treatment