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More Bad News About Sugar

I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you a bit that sugar is not the healthiest thing you could eat; in fact, it’s probably one of the worst. Sugar has long been linked to obesity and diabetes and nearly every diet you can think of will suggest you limit or eliminate sugar from your diet. (For more on how sugar affects your waistline, check out our previos blog about carbohydrates, and this great nytimes summary article about research and sugar) Excess sugar consumption can increase your insulin resistance, add inches to your waist and even potentially increase your LDL (bad cholesterol) and risk of heart disease. So, overall, not great.

But, I just came across a study that spells even more bad news for dieters: sugar may actually decrease your body’s ability to feel full. Researchers from the University of Minnesota studied the effects of a long term sucrose diet (a form of sugar composed of glucose and fructose, most commonly referred to as table sugar) comopared to a diet of cornstarch in laboratory mice. They knew that after each feeding of sucrose, opioids (reward and pleasure-inducing chemicals in the brain) are released in the short term. However, they found that once the animals had been on a high sugar diet for several weeks, their brains were less able to produce oxytocin, a chemical associated with feelings of satiety or fullness, and the sucrose-eating mice were more likely to over-eat.

So what does this mean for us?

First, it confirms why many of us reach for chocolate, cake, or ice-cream when we’re feeling down; the short rush of opioids will temporarily make us feel better. However, the positive effects are short lived. If you have a diet that is high in sugar, your body will start to lose it’s ability to tell you when you’re full, which can lead to overeating. Plus, many processed and pre-packaged foods contain a surprising amount of sugar, either in sucrose form or as high fructose corn syrup. Even if it’s in your tomato sauce, it still counts as sugar. The best thing you can do for yourself is try to slowly reduce the amount of sugar in your diet, which isn’t always easy.  

Honestly, I absolutely love sugar, especially candy and chocolate, so anytime I tell myself I’m going to cut them out, it’s all I can think about! So, I try just focusing on adding things without sugar; good, whole foods that make me feel healthy when I eat them. The more good stuff I put in my diet, the less I have room for the bad stuff.

Do you have a lot of sugar in your diet? Have you ever noticed changes in your eating habits when you have more sugar?

-Sara

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Laura Weren on April 13, 2012 at 10:17 am

    This is really interesting! I assume candy corn does not apply

    Reply

  2. Hi Sara,

    Sugar is actually a huge issue for me! Over the past year and a half or so I have had varying degrees of success completely eliminating it from my diet, and when I am successful, I feel so much better! Being hypoglycemic, it really helps me to choose foods that keep my blood sugar level instead of spiking and then dropping it. I know this, but it is still hard not to reach for things that are sweetened with cane sugar when I’m having a rough day (hello PMS!) or even when I feel like rewarding myself for something (hello psychological food issues!), and then it is hard to stop eating sugary things; one craving leads to another! Moderation has always been kind of a difficult thing for me to do, especially when I feel deprived a lot of the time by my very restricted diet, but I try to remind myself that I’m nourishing and caring for myself by choosing foods that won’t give me a terrible rebound headache, zap my energy, or give me gross lady infections (sugar feeds yeast too). I use stevia as much as a can, especially in drinks, and try to use other more natural sweeteners on a limited basis such as maple syrup and coconut sugar.

    K

    Reply

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