In episode 57, I’ll share a lifestyle hack that can provide very quick benefits to your present health, as well as adding many healthy years to your life.
This important lifestyle hack is the drastic reduction of refined sugar from your life.
Most people are aware that too much sugar can cause health issues like diabetes, childhood obesity, tooth decay and hyper-active kids and that sugary soft drinks are becoming a target for law-makers and TV talk shows trying to curb the proliferation of these serious health issues.
But many people are unaware of the pervasive and hidden nature of processed sugar, how it gets into our food, and how damaging it is to our health. This danger is amplified as we enter our middle age and senior years because we become more vulnerable to the many serious diseases of aging such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease and more.
Now I’m not demonizing all sugar. Every cell in our body needs sugar. I’m focusing here on the processed sugar that you’ll find in sodas and food sweeteners like sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup .
We’re also looking at fruit and some vegetable juices. This type of sugar is often added to other processed foods like cookies, cereal, pasta sauce, peanut butter and yogurt. These sugars are causing many health issues for many people. And sadly, many people don’t even realize that it’s in their food.
We now know that this kind of sugar can create a strong addiction that works by the same process as does a heroin addiction. It’s that insidious. That’s why it’s so hard for many people to cut down or eliminate sugar from life. The cravings can be very strong.
And withdrawing from sugar can cause some pretty nasty symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, insomnia, sweating, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea and vomiting. And the addiction can be so overwhelming that it may require medical intervention. It can take up to 3 months to wean yourself off sugar. So, it’s really no joke.
So why is processed sugar so addicting?
Chowing down on refined sugar causes your body to release dopamine, your body’s natural feel-good hormone, which is the same rewards pathway as the addiction to heroin, cocaine, and nicotine uses. Over time you can become very dependent on refined sugar.
And as if that isn’t bad enough, refined sugar makes you crave more sugar.
And fructose is the culprit here.
It turns out that refined sugar (sucrose), and high-fructose corn syrup, contain both fructose and glucose. Sucrose, or table sugar, is made from sugar cane or beets and is about a 50/50 combination of fructose and glucose.
High-fructose corn syrup contains about 55% fructose and 45% glucose.
Glucose isn’t really the bad guy here. It is broken down by every cell in your body and causes your body to release insulin, to break it down and remove it from the bloodstream. This process also release leptin, a protein that helps to make you feel full, thus curbing your hunger.
But fructose, does not trigger your body to send the insulin and the leptin. Instead, fructose is broken down inside the liver. The problem is that without the leptin, you still feel hungry, and thus the sugar cravings. Fructose also elevates your triglyceride levels thus elevating your risk for heart attack and stroke.
But fructose is derived from fruit. Does that mean that fruit is unhealthy?
Not at all. The fructose in fruit is bound up in what they call the food matrix.
This means that it’s enmeshed with cellular material and fiber. This causes it to be broken down slower and thus doesn’t cause the big spikes in your blood sugar. Also, the fiber makes you feel full.
But fruit and veggie juices are a different story. You remove the food matrix and are left with mostly fructose, which then becomes the bad guy again adding to your sugar addiction and spikes in your blood sugar. So, avoid fruit juices or consume them in moderation.
You should also be aware that many foods will show that they contain NO ADDED SUGAR on the label because they add fruit juice instead. But fruit juice is almost 100% fructose, which is actually less healthy than sucrose. So read the labels carefully. More on that later.
So how big of a health problem is the consumption of refined sugar?
Very big. Almost 75% of all adults in the United States get a 10% of all their daily calories from refined sugar while 10% of adults get a whopping 25% of all calories from refined sugar. That’ a lot of sugar.
It is estimated that the yearly cost of sugar-related health conditions on our health care system is over $1 trillion dollars. That’s trillion with a capital “T”.
In 2010, sugar sweetened beverages, like sodas, were responsible for 133,000 deaths from diabetes and 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease, and 6450 from cancer worldwide. This is from sugar free sodas alone. In one study, they found that adults who drank just one soda per day were 46% more likely to develop pre-diabetes.
One of the most insidious and dangerous effects of the habitual consumption of processed sugar is its negative effect on your sleep. They now know that consumption of refined sugar adversely affects your quality of sleep causing more fragmented sleep and thus contributing more to sleep deprivation.
Now that’s only the beginning of your sugar induced problems. It turns out that the lack of sleep only increases your body too feel hungrier all the time due to the suppression of leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full. In fact, sleep deprivation actually causes your body to create hormones that make you feel hungrier. It’s a vicious cycle.
And worse yet, poor sleep has been shown to make you want to eat junk food more. So, the sugar cycle just gets worse.
And we are learning more and more about how proper sleep is really the driver of good health. So, a disturbance in your sleep can have deleterious effects on your health. If you end up in this merry-go-round then your best move may be to seek professional help. It could save your life.
And sleep is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the negative effects of processed sugar.
Let’s talk cancer…
It seems like every day there is a new link between sugar and cancer. There are studies that show that refined sugar is a factor in almost 1/3 of all cancers worldwide.
In another study they found that men tripled their risk of prostate cancer by regularly consuming sugar-sweetened drinks.
So how does sugar cause cancer?
One way that cancer cells are created in our body is from damage to our DNA. All of our DNA has protective bumpers at the ends of the DNA strand. These protective bumpers are called telomeres. They’ve been in the news a lot lately.
These telomeres act as protective buffers preventing damage to your DNA.
When we are young our telomeres are very long thus making our DNA very resistant to damage. But, as we age, our telomeres get shorter and thus make us more vulnerable to DNA damage. You can accurately determine a person’s biological age simply by measuring the lengths of their telomeres.
Many things can affect the length of your telomeres. Negative lifestyle factors such as smoking, stress, obesity, poor exercise and poor nutrition can cause shortening of your telomeres. While positive lifestyle factors like low-stress, meditation, good exercise and good nutrition can actually increase the length of your telomeres.
Well, refined sugar causes a shortening of your telomeres leading to pre-mature aging and potential DNA damage which increases your risk of cancer. In fact, in one study it was shown that people who drank only one soda per day had the equivalent aging of 4.5 years due to the shortening of their telomeres. That’s a high price to pay for a can of soda.
We also know that excess refined sugar can cause your gut to produce and accumulate something called beta cotinine, which is a type of gene that normally affects the proliferation of our cells.
With too much of the beta cotinine, our worn-out, senescent cells, which normally would go through a natural process of cell death, called apoptosis, are instead made to be immortal, and thus prime candidates to become future cancer cells.
Let’s talk inflammation…
Inflammation is now known to be the driving factor in many of the conditions associated with aging such as cancer, heart disease, neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, along with many others.
Inflammation is caused by our natural immune response to illness, or injury. It’s what is causing the swelling, redness, and pain. Reducing inflammation is very important for successful aging.
As you would expect now, our nemesis, refined sugar is front and center when it comes to producing inflammation. In one study. Men who consumed a 20-ounce sugar drink every day for 3 weeks experienced an increase in their inflammation by up to 100%.
And men, if you’re interested in holding on to your testosterone for as long as possible then you’ll want to be cutting down on the processed sugar. In one study, the testosterone of men who consumed the equivalent of a soda and a doughnut, dropped by 25% for up to two hours. So, you may want to avoid that coke if you have some amorous plans in the near future.
Does process sugar affect my brain?
And, as you may have guessed already, excess sugar consumption can have a profound affect on your brain. Studies have shown that long-term refined sugar intake can have the same negative effects on the brain as some very powerful stimulating drugs, such as amphetamine, cocaine, and nicotine. Effects include brain atrophy, concentration, and emotional and memory problems.
Well, I think you get the idea. Refined sugar is really bad for you and well worth reducing and eliminating from your diet.
Okay, so I’m ready to take that leap for myself and my family. How do I do it?
Great! I’m one step ahead of you here. I have created a companion PDF with 13 tried and true tips that will really enable you to take charge and eliminate your sugar tooth for good. This PDF will arm you with some solid tips that will make your path to reducing your sugar as painless as possible to help ensure your success.
Sign up for your FREE PDF below!
Okay, I’m on the road to less sugar and better health!
When can I expect to see some results?
The silver lining to the mass of negative health effects caused by refined sugar is that for many of them, simply removing refined sugar from your diet can quickly start to reverse the damaging trends that the sugar caused.
In one study conducted in the UK, people reversed their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 25% simply by eliminating one sugar sweetened soda per day.
Within a few weeks of substantially reducing your processed sugar intake you can expect to see at least a 10% decrease in your LDL cholesterol along with a 20% decrease in trigylcerides. That will make your heart a happy chappy.
You will also significantly decrease your chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
You will also notice a marked improvement in mood and anxiety.
You will find it easier to get off of the bad sleep merry-go-round that is caused by poor diet and lack of sleep. And guess what? No more sugar crashes.
You will also be able to win the battle of sugar and sleep-deprived brain fog. Wouldn’t that be nice to remember the names of your kids again?
You will also get a nice surprise when you jump onto the scale and notice the 10 lbs or more that you lost from giving up the hundreds of additional calories consumed from sugar.
You will look and feel years younger, all from taking the leap to adopt this very important lifestyle hack. And the real reward will be the additional years that you’ll spend with the people that you love. That has no price.
Lastly, here are some foods that contain a lot of hidden sugars
Low Fat Yogart
No sugar added foods! – Yes, they add fruit juice instead, which is fructose, an added sugar.
Smoothies. Some can contain more than 60 grams of sugar!
Granola and granola bars
BBQ and other sauces
Flavored Bottle Water
The list could go on and on…
If you need additional support or if you have any questions or comments then you are welcome to contact me via email at Jim@essentialboomer.guide
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And…I would be remiss not to give a big thanks to my favorite blues guitar player of all time, Mr. Dave Hydie for generously providing such a great intro and outro for each of my podcasts. I love you Dave, you da man.