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How Sugar Affects Your Health

Today I want to talk to you about sugar. I’m sure you’ve probably heard that we have to be careful with sugar. We’ve got to take it seriously, so if you would just consider a two week challenge to cut out sugar I think you would see a real difference in how you feel. By sugar I mean, refined/added/processed sugar. It’s totally fine to have some in fruit of course, or if you’re going to add a little bit to a recipe.  

Americans consume massive amounts of sugar every year, in the hundreds of pounds. 

Cutting out sugar is one of the fastest ways to reverse health issues and consuming that massive amount of sugar is one of the fastest ways to get health issues.

Just try two weeks, trust me with it. Is it gonna be difficult? Yes. Sugar is incredibly addictive to the brain. Sugar is actually more addictive than cocaine to the brain. It creates a lot of dopamine, which is basically your reward center for doing something right. When we do something pleasurable we get a reward, we get dopamine. There’s a healthy way to secrete dopamine of course, we need that neurotransmitter to help us focus, stay motivated, and to reward us when we do certain things. For example, if you worked really hard on a project and finally got it accomplished, you get dopamine, you get that pleasure. 

Dopamine is really powerful. The problem is, when you have sugar all the time, your brain is going to constantly look for dopamine all the time. And not only does that addict you to sugar and make you crave more foods and over consume sugar laden foods or carbohydrates, that also creates an addictive personality trait in the brain where we’re always looking for dopamine. 

That means that sugar can actually be a gateway to other things we can get addicted to, being on our phone too much, social media, risky sexual behavior, or getting an adrenaline rush.  

So sugar can lead to a lot of issues. Another problem it can cause is insulin management. Whenever you consume anything, you’re gonna get a little secretion of insulin. That’s just part of how our body determines satiety and moves nutrients into the cell. However, with sugar we typically are going to get a pretty big spike of insulin and blood sugar. And what happens is, the insulin is going to be pro inflammatory, meaning it can cause a lot of issues like making our joints ache, mood problems or mood disorders. It can really wreak havoc in a lot of areas in our life, especially if you’re prone to inflammation. 

Okay, so sugar is such a monster. I know it’s difficult, but I encourage you to try for two weeks. Encourage yourself to get through that two week period, think of it like a boot camp for going off sugar.  You will need to get through some of the withdrawals from it, you may get a headache from it, may not feel so good, you can be a little grouchy, but get through that. I really encourage you to give it a shot. There are some things you can do to help you with that. I encourage you to work with a practitioner. I put patients on certain Homeopathies that can really help minimize the sugar cravings. It can help a lot actually with a lot of addictive type personality traits. 

It’s good to at least know what it’s like to live without sugar. Once you detox that for a couple of weeks and you feel better, you can actually reintroduce sugar a little bit. Try a little bit, try a small dessert and notice how crappy it feels. Most people will feel shaky and irritable and not sleep as good. You’ll notice the true effects sugar has on your body. When we’re at our normal we don’t realize the effect sugar has on us and until we remove it. So try that out and work on self care during that period, work on drinking more water if you’re not doing well at that. Get more exercise and meditation. Say “You know what, I’m not just going to sit here and suffer some of these withdrawal or detox symptoms. I’m going to use that time to focus my energy on improving other parts of my body.”  I think that’d be awesome for you. Give it a shot. 


Dr. Jason

Naturopathic doctor in Lansing, MI

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