Does your kid enjoy bingeing on sugar treats? Well, it’s time you know about the alarming effects of sugar on your child’s health. Fortunately, there is a detox plan for sugar. Here are six ways!
By Luke Coutinho
Sugar, no matter how sweet, the bitter truth is — it is your health’s worst enemy. This sweet-tasting soluble carbohydrate is the new villain replacing fat that ruled the roost for so long. For years, we were told that fat is bad, and is the chief reason for us being overweight and obese.
According to a review, ‘Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain in Children and Adults: A Systematic Review from 2013 to 2015 and a Comparison with Previous Studies’, published in the journal Obesity Facts, of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, by Luger M et al., published in 2017, has suggested a relation between the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and weight gain in children.
A high-sugar diet has been associated with a slew of chronic health conditions, from diabetes to heart disease and others. Sugar is directly connected to weight gain and inflammation, and even linked to conditions like degenerative bones and loss of minerals from the connective tissue. While sugar that is found in its natural form in fruits and vegetables is generally healthy, it is processed sugars in packaged foods and beverages that pose a threat to health.
A study, ‘Added Sugar Intake and Cardiovascular Diseases Mortality Among US Adults’, by Quanhe Yang et al., published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) internal medicine, in 2014, has suggested that high intake of sugar is associated with cardiovascular disease. While natural sugars are essential, it is no secret that processed sugar is harmful to health.
Did you know that sugar can become as addictive as drugs? When you consume a lot of sugar, it stimulates the reward centre in your brain, called the nucleus accumbens to release dopamine, which makes you feel ‘really good’. As with any reward-related cognition, the brain becomes habituated to this spike, and you crave to feel the ‘sugar-rush’ that makes you happy but also adversely makes you feel tired and hungry. These chronic craving cycles indicate that sugar is as addictive as any synthetic drug.
The universally agreed upon single serving portion size for sugar is five grams. Today, children are consuming up to three times more sugar daily than this recommended portion. With one out of three children under the age of ten being overweight or obese, and one out of three under the age of five having tooth decay, the health risks posed by sugar intake should be considered seriously. In fact, you should realise that sugar, in all its forms, is the root cause of obesity and other adverse health conditions in children.
Now that I’ve pointed out how bad sugar is, as parents, you need to make every effort possible to cut back on sugar in your child’s diet. Or, as I’d like to say, ‘detox from sugar’. Further, as adults, you should try to limit your sugar consumption too.
1. Kick it out: Stop stacking up your home with refined sugar and processed foods that contain high sugar content. If you require refined white sugar for domestic needs, keep a very limited quantity at home. Try to avoid, as much as possible, packaged and processed foods that contain sugar in large quantities.
You can also try various healthy alternatives to processed sugar such as coconut sugar, honey and maple syrup.
2. Eat whole foods: The sugar found in fruits and vegetables is safe and there’s no reason to avoid them. Stock up on whole foods such as fruits, vegetables and nuts. Monitor and balance your diet to include high-protein foods that keep you full; healthy fats that help lower blood sugar and cholesterol; and complex carbs that digest slowly helping you retain your energy for long. Also, when cravings hit, you can indulge in whole foods and nuts without giving in to temptation.
3. Reduce stress: When you are stressed, the level of cortisol hormone goes up which makes you hungry, causes storage of belly fat and leads to type 2 diabetes. Stress has a negative impact on children and adults and urges them to reach for junk food and indulge in sugary food items. Whenever you find yourself stressed, break the pattern by taking deep breaths and focusing on something else. Take a walk, indulge in some physical activity, do yoga, listen to music or engage in any de-stressing activity that works best for you or your child. Further, a lack of sleep causes people to favour high-calorie, sweet foods. Get at least seven to eight hours of sleep to get rid of sugar cravings.
4. Drink water and avoid juice: Sugar found in fruit juices and beverages like soda drinks contains empty calories. This means that it hydrates you, but the sugar directly enters your bloodstream, giving you a spike of insulin. Further, the sugar in the bloodstream actually inhibits the liver’s own fat-storage mechanism, leading to additional fat storage in the belly. So, avoid sugary drinks; instead, replace them with water, unsweetened beverage or herbal tea. This will drastically reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight.
5. Fast intermittently: Intermittent fasting is one of the latest trends in dieting that has many variations to it. In this type of fasting, you get a pre-defined time window within which you can eat and fast for the rest of the day. Fasting allows your body enough time to dip into the fat storage for energy and helps regulate the insulin hormone. Thereby, sugar cravings tend to reduce, once insulin is regulated.
6. Check for Candida: Candida is a form of fungal infection that is common in humans. It is caused by a type of yeast in the intestines and can make you feel tired and irritable. The yeast thrives on sugar; hence, it causes severe sweet cravings. To be honest, it’s a kind of paradoxical situation. While on the one hand you eat sugar to promote the growth of intestinal yeast, on the other, if you have too much yeast in your gut, it makes you crave more sugar. Get yourself checked, and if diagnosed, get treated for candida to curb the intense sugar cravings caused by the condition.
Sugar is bad for health. There are no two ways about it. Yes, it is difficult to completely cut off sugar from your diet and your child’s. However, limiting the use of sugar will not only benefit your health but also protect you from a multitude of health problems that arise as a result of excess sugar consumption. And, in children, start early and consciously limit their sugar intake and consumption of junk and processed food. Remember, too ‘sweet’ can sometimes turn ‘sour’ for your health!
The author, Luke Coutinho, is Adviser of Integrative Lifestyle and Nutrition at Purenutrition.me
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