5 Amazing Reasons to Cut Down on Sugar

Sugar, in its many forms, is everywhere and letting it creep back into your diet can be an easy thing for even the staunchest anti-sugar peeps.

Also winter is around the corner and the change of season often means that we spend more time indoors and, as a result, are less active. And being less active can lead to, well, putting on our “winter coat”.

A great way to reduce the chance of this happening is by drastically reducing your sugar intake. Reducing refined sugar intake isn’t necessarily easy as it’s found in virtually all packaged foods, drinks and food at fast food restaurants are laden with it (a large Big Mac meal deal has 85 grams of sugar–236% of your daily allowance). Although it takes a little effort and planning to avoid sugar, it is very worth it in health and wellness rewards.

Here are 5 pretty amazing benefits of eating less sugar:

1. Improved sleep

Insulin levels are regulated when our blood sugar is balanced and one of the benefits of this is deep, restful sleep. Regulated insulin also has a balancing effect on the rest of our hormones as they all work together. This balance helps to improve our energy levels, brain function and, again, the quality of our sleep. A restful sleep gives us consistent and lasting energy throughout the day, increases our ability to focus and makes us less susceptible to sugary afternoon treats to get through the day, helping us to naturally cut down our sugar consumption.

2. Weight Loss 

Did you know that you can lose weight by cutting down on sugar without even reducing calories? This often happens because sugar spikes our blood sugar levels and insulin levels, as well as disrupting neurotransmitters in our brain. All of this increases fat storage. Eating more protein, fiber, fruit, and vegetables increases our metabolism, which then helps our bodies burn calories more efficiently. Losing or maintaining weight isn’t just about the daily calories consumed, but about the quality of foods we eat and the way our bodies process them.

3. Mental Clarity

Expect to feel more focused and clear-headed when giving up or cutting down on sugar. When our blood-sugar levels are consistent and healthy, our brain is more alert and we don’t feel as sleepy throughout the day. Also, too much fructose from foods containing high-fructose corn syrup (many processed, packaged foods) taxes our liver and pancreas. When this happens, these two organs have to work harder to manage all of the low quality sugar in our systems and remove it from our blood stream. While doing this, they exhaust energy reserves which otherwise should have been used for breaking down fat and converting it to usable energy. This can result in an unpleasant cocktail of moodiness, anxiety and even exhaustion.

4. Anti- Aging

Sugar is a primary contributor to the aging process, says Dr. Robert Lustig, a physician who has extensively researched sugar’s effect on the human body. He says fructose, the sweet molecule in sugar, is seven times more potent than the glucose portion of sugar. Fructose (ie. high fructose corn syrup) forms free radicals in our bodies, leading to higher rates of cell damage and death.

In a way, we “rust” as we age, he says. Oxidative stress turns our tissues brown. Overindulging in excess added sugar will speed up this browning process and speeds along the aging process in general.

5. Heart Health

It’s easy to imagine how having excess fat in our blood stream and arteries can lead to heart problems, but less people know about the role sugar plays in cardiac issues. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 100 calories per day from added sugars (6 teaspoons) for women, and 150 calories (9 teaspoons) for men for optimal heart health. Unfortunately people now consume 22 teaspoons per day, on average.

A study by the Journal of the American Medical Association has also shown that people who ate between 17 and 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar. So less sugar, along with moderate exercise equals a healthy, happy heart.

So, there you have it, some excellent reasons to think about dialing back your sugar habit.

Next post will have a delicious, sugar free dessert to help make living without refined sugar easy and delicious.

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3 Steps to De-Sugar your Life

Have you been thinking about reducing sugar in your diet? Read on to find out what you need to know to help you get this health buster out of your kitchen and your beautiful body.

1. Find the hidden sugar.  Did you know that the average North American eats 31 teaspoons of added sugar every day? That’s almost 500 calories. How does this happen? Well, lots of packaged foods contain sugar, but it’s hidden under different names. Here are some to look out for: barley malt, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, and turbinado. Read the fine print on labels and don’t be fooled by food manufacturers. Sometimes I think one of their biggest goals is to get consumers hooked on sugar, salt and msg. The more hooked we are, the more junk we eat and the more money they make.

2. Avoid high fructose corn syrup like the plague. This sweetener is made by changing the sugar in cornstarch to fructose and it’s more inflammatory than other types of sweeteners. Because HFCS extends the shelf life of foods and is sweeter and cheaper than other sugars, it’s an ingredient in soda, fruit drinks, packaged bread, crackers, and tons of other snacks. Look for it on labels and avoid it at all costs. It’s extremely addictive. 

3. Take B vitamins every day.
B vitamins help lessen withdrawals symptoms for people coming off of addictions. And, since sugar is addictive, the b’s will help you through your withdrawal symptoms.

And, when you do get a craving for something sweet that just won’t go away, try munching on a big bowl of fruit instead of something sugary and fatty that might mess up your health and fitness goals. Here’s an idea for a naturally sweetened, healthy snack:

BC Fresh Fruit Salad

·         Blackberries

·         Raspberries

·         Peaches

·         Strawberries

Add any other fruit you might like. Fruit is fresh, natural, good for you and will kill a sugar craving in an instant.

And, if that doesn’t do the trick, check out my next blog post featuring a delicious, sugar free peach parfait.

Coco Bliss Balls

Okay, Since I’m in love with raw food again, I thought I’d re-post one of my most popular raw-licious recipes. If you try these sweet bliss balls be prepared to become a little obsessed with them.

Oh, and they’re so good for you too with anti-aging cacao powder, hormone-balancing maca and yummy cinnamon to balance your blood sugar. Check them out!

COCO-BLISS BALLS

Ingredients:

1.5 tsp raw maca powder (optional)

1 tbsp organic ground cinnamon

1 tbsp raw organic cacao powder

1/4 cup organic dark chocolate chips

8-10 soft medjool dates, pits removed

1/2 cup raw almonds

1 tsp pure organic vanilla extract

Place all ingredients into a high power food processor and blend until small pebbles form. Roll into balls and refrigerate. Makes approximately 10 cookie balls.

And, in case you’re curious about the health benefits of this recipes, below I have a little info on two of the key super food, anti-oxidant ingredients:

MACA: This plant is known as the Peruvian “ginseng” even though it’s not ginseng at all. However, it is known to increase energy, stamina, libido and reduce stress. It is an adaptogen, meaning, it’s important to take over a longer period of time to notice the effects. Maca is also very nourishing to the pituitary and hypothalmus glands, making it great for helping to balance male and female hormones.

Raw Cacao: The purest form of chocolate on planet earth. This food’s effect on mood and libido is due to it’s natural chemicals including anandamide and PEA which are known to make you feel more “blissful” and “loving”. Additionally, it stimulates feel good hormones such as endorphins and may increase serotonin since it’s a source of tryptophan. Raw cacao is also an excellent source of antioxidants and, last but not least, it’s also bit of a libido-booster.

And, with these two loving, blissful and libido boosting ingredients, Coco Bliss Balls may be the perfect dessert to serve next time you have a romantic date on the agenda…

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