I don’t mean to brag, but I’m incredibly proud of how healthy I am. It’s not easy to take care of your health. And I really had to learn, over time, how to put my body before my cravings.
You see, I used to need sugar morning, noon, and night. I’m not kidding when I tell you I often took a slice of cake to bed at night. I’d sit in my arm chair, enjoy a piece of cake or a brownie and a glass of milk. When I’d taken the last bite and sipped the last sip, I brushed my teeth and climbed into bed. Somehow, I thought I’d earned it after a hard day’s work – I equated the reward of a sugary slice to relaxation. Boy, was I mistaken.
Then one day, I woke up. I finally realized I was doing something really bad to my body – and so I rushed to do something about it. I quit the cake – cold turkey. But that’s not all… I stopped eating sugar completely.
Or so I thought.
But, even when it seemed I was doing everything I could to break free of the hold sugar had over me, I wasn’t. Because sugar is a sneaky little bugger. It’s hides from us.
It’s true. After ditching my nightly slice of cake, I continued to give up soda, donuts, syrups, and all of my favorite candy. But I was still trapped. And I didn’t even know it.
In fact, I went on doing more damage to my body for years. Oh, sure, I lost a little weight after cutting out all those sweets. I slept a little better too, at first.
But, even though I thought I was eating a “healthy diet” – and making great strides in conquering my sugar addiction – I still craved sweet things. And though my weight loss plateaued, I still had more weight to lose.
So, I dug in deeper and constructed a plan. And, today, I’m going to let you in on ….
My favorite tips to help you kick sugar to the curb. Watch my video now:
Turns out, I wasn’t the only person having a hard time beating my sugar addiction.
Many of my patients have confessed their need for sugar feels as serious to them as if they were craving hard drugs or alcohol. And sometimes, their withdrawal from sugar was painful.
- They lost sleep.
- They got terrible headaches.
- They felt totally lethargic.
Does this sound like you? If so, I can sympathize … I really can. Sugar is in almost everything the food industry pushes at us – it’s nearly everywhere. And, it might be even more dangerous than you know.
The dangerous effects of too much sugar
When you consume a lot of sugar, your innate immune system can fire right up and cause inflammation. This happens as a result of the overproduction of tiny proteins secreted by the immune system called cytokines.
Cytokines send really important signals to other cells and organs in your body. So, we need them to be in concert to keep us functioning at optimal health. But, when there aren’t enough anti-inflammatory cytokines being produced in your body it can cause real problems.1 And too much sugar screws up the way this system is meant to function.
2. Significant weight gain
A study was recently published showing an increase in the intake of beverages sweetened with sugar and the ways in which the surge was linked to significantly increased weight gain.
In fact, the study examined over 500 students (of varying ethnic backgrounds). Researchers followed these students’ consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages for a little over a year-and-a-half. Turns out, for every added serving of sweetened beverage ingested every day, the students’ Body Mass Indexes – and the occurrences of obesity – were significantly increased.2
There’s no denying it. The fact is, sugar can really pull one over on your metabolism. It can sneak in and deactivate the very system responsible for telling your body it’s hungry. When your body misses these signals, you’re naturally inclined to eat more and more – which means gaining more and more weight.
3. Upped risk of various diseases
Now, sugar’s been known to increase the possibility of hypertension, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and even diabetes (just to name a few).3
Hypertension – more commonly referred to as high blood pressure – occurs when the force of blood pushing up against your artery walls is way too high. Eventually, the pressure can cause concerning health issues.
Turns out, the narrower your arteries get, the higher your blood pressure climbs. But, you can have hypertension for years and fail to notice any symptoms. So, if you know you’re consuming more sugar than you should, it’s a good idea to see a doctor to check your blood pressure as soon as possible.
Also, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease applies to those who drink little or no alcohol, yet suffer from a variety of liver issues. The disease is often diagnosed when there’s a significant amount of fat stored in the liver. Sometimes the liver can become so inflamed, scarring and irreparable damage can occur.
This kind damage mirrors the kind of damage done to the liver when a person regularly abuses alcohol. And again, it can happen to you even if you’ve never had a sip of alcohol. Sugar can be that bad!
So, one of the crazy things about sugar is the way in which it can mess with your brain. Research suggests sugar – and sweetness in general, so this includes artificial sweeteners – can stimulate reward responses.
In fact, some scientists propose sugar cravings can be compared to cravings induced by various addictive drugs. That’s because sugar stimulates the brain’s pleasure center. When this occurs, a set of habits can form, causing people to become dependent on sugar in the same way addicts crave certain drugs.4
Now, I know, all that’s a lot to digest, right?
So, let me do a bit of explaining about …
How sugar works
Carbohydrates – or carbs – have been a buzzword in the health world for years. But to be clear, carbohydrates are the organic, sugary, and starchy compounds in the food we eat. Usually, they’re broken down and transformed into energy in our bodies.
An interesting fact about carbs: Even if they’re more starchy than sweet (like a potato), they still turn into sugar. Glucose, to be exact. And then your body is supposed to convert all that glucose into energy. But, not all carbohydrates are created equal.
Complex carbs – certain vegetables, grains, and even legumes – can be truly beneficial to your health. Reason being, it takes time to digest complex carbs, so your blood sugar levels stay within a healthy range. When you ingest complex carbs, you don’t experience that uncontrollable energy rush, nor do you feel an annoying sugar crash.
Moreover, complex carbohydrates are full of fiber, essential vitamins, minerals, and protein – all things our bodies need to keep us running in tip-top shape.
On the flip side, however, are simple carbs. They’re pretty much useless. Simple carbs include all kinds of processed sugars – chips, cookies, sweets, cola, candy, and – believe it or not – fruit! (But, I’ll say more about fruit in a bit).
Now, your pancreas is the first organ to get to work when when glucose infiltrates your bloodstream. It releases insulin, which is the primary metabolic hormone. Insulin keeps your glucose levels healthy by running it through your body so your cells can use it as energy.
Only, your body will store that glucose as fat if your cells have enough glucose to operate for the time being. So, if you’ve eaten a good amount of simple sugars, that glucose floods your bloodstream, and your pancreas produces a bunch of excess insulin.
The problem there is your body can adapt to the flood and become insulin resistant. Then it has a harder time keeping your blood sugar in check. And guess what else? It gets even harder to convert all that fat your body stored into energy. So, you can’t lose weight.
Moreover, excess glucose and insulin resistance are key components in major health issues.
And, as a cardiac surgeon, I know firsthand: The overconsumption of simple carbohydrates and sugar can impact your health in big ways. So, the question becomes…
Just how much sugar are we eating?
Well, according to the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, the average American eats over 150 pounds of sugar every year!5 For reference, that’s the about the size of a newborn giraffe.
Hard to believe, right? But, if you want to know about the shocking amount of sugar calories that makes up … click here to see my quick video about sugar addiction and the 4 steps you can take to nip it in the bud.
You see, our bodies were simply not built to process such insanely high amounts of sugar. And, nature certainly never intended for us to have to deal with the processed sugars pumped into all our favorite boxed, bagged, and pre-cooked foods.
So, how can we beat the treats?
Well, first, we’ve got to admit to ourselves that sugar is in almost everything … even things labeled “healthy.”
Remember when I mentioned quitting sugar cold turkey, but still struggling with cravings and weight loss?
Well, even though I’d quit eating donuts, sugary cereals, desserts, and my all time favorite – cola, I never realized how much sugar was hiding in salad dressing, bread, and even the “healthy” things I was consuming. The green juices I was drinking before exercise, the “light” cream I was putting in my coffee, and the “good for you” fruit-filled yogurts I was downing day after day were all loaded with sugar.
It’s no wonder I still felt hooked on the stuff. I didn’t realize I was still eating significant amounts of sugar. It was time to come up with a plan to beat sugar once and for all.
Say goodbye to sugar with these 4 helpful hacks
1. Call sugar out
Sugar rarely goes by it’s name. In fact, there are over 60 names for sugar, according to the FDA. So, when you read an ingredients list on food packaging or in a menu, make sure you don’t see the following …
- Brown rice syrup
- Barley malt
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
And remember, most artificial sweeteners can cause concern as well. (I know I know, but these sweeteners really can be as dangerous as sugar itself. If you really need to spike your tea with something sweet, go for stevia.)
2. Ditch fruit
Now, I happen to steer clear of all fruits. Some of my patients find it difficult to do, so if you’ve simply got to have fruit … make sure it’s fresh and in season.
Not only that, choose from fruits high in polyphenols. In case you’ve not heard of polyphenols before, they’re the natural, “good for you” chemicals found in plants and plant foods (like coffee or cocoa powder) known to help protect against certain health issues. Blueberries, pomegranates, and blackberries are great for when you start to cut sugar from your diet, but still need a little “fix.”
Though again, it’s best to cut all fruit out when you’re able.
3. Fill up on water, tea, and coffee
But, do everything you can to eliminate soda, sweet tea, and juice from your diet. And you’ve got to stay away from any caramel, creamy, super-nilla latté type drinks … or any drink that begins with the word “frappa.” Water is your body’s best friend. Plain tea or coffee works too.
And you can even treat yourself to a glass of wine every now and again.
There are even a few more tips in the video I mentioned above.
4. Be your own top chef
When in doubt, make your meals at home. Anything you get in a bag, box, or even at a restaurant can hide tons of weird ingredients. But, if you focus on choosing whole foods and cook at home, you’ll know exactly what you’re putting in your body. And you’ll be amazed at how quickly you start feeling better.
Now, I’m not saying it’s going to be easy – getting over any true addiction never is. And, it wasn’t a cakewalk for me, by any means. But I can honestly say I still really enjoy great tasting food. And on top of that, I enjoy knowing the food I’m eating is the food my body was meant to eat.
Looking out for you,
Dr. Steven Gundry
For more tips on eating better, click here:
1.Giugliano D, et al. “The Effects Of Diet On Inflammation: Emphasis On The Metabolic Syndrome. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2006. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
2.Ryan T. Hurt, Stephen A. McClave. “The Obesity Epidemic: Challenges, Health Initiatives, And Implications For Gastroenterologists”. PubMed Central (PMC). N.p., 2010. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
3.Khitan, Zeid and Dong Hyun Kim. “Fructose: A Key Factor In The Development Of Metabolic Syndrome And Hypertension”. N.p., 2013. Print.
4.Ahmed SH, et al. “Sugar Addiction: Pushing The Drug-Sugar Analogy To The Limit. – Pubmed – NCBI”. Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. N.p., 2013. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
5.”How Much Sugar Do You Eat? You May Be Surprised!”. N.p., 2014. Print.