Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. It is typically found as sucrose, which is the combination of glucose and fructose. We use white and brown sugars to sweeten cakes and cookies, coffee, cereal and even fruit. Food manufacturers add chemically produced sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.
We eat more refined sugar today than our parents and grandparents did decades ago, which has resulted in increasing obesity rates among adults and children. Obesity has been associated with certain cancers, including breast, prostate, uterine, colorectal, and pancreatic. On the flip side, fruits high in antioxidants—blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and apples—may reduce your cancer risk. The fiber in fruit, found mainly in its skin, suppresses your appetite to prevent overeating and weight gain.
Refined sugars use your body’s stored B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium for their digestion. Natural sugars are present in foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits, which already contain the needed nutrients for their digestion. Regular consumption of foods high in refined sugar will deplete B-vitamins, calcium and magnesium stores from your body. When your body lacks B-vitamins, your nervous system suffers and you may experience fatigue, depression, anxiety and lack of energy. Lack of calcium and magnesium may contribute to arthritis and osteoporosis.
Here are some tips for kicking the refined sugar habit.
1. Don’t eat or buy packaged foods.
Even organic packaged foods often contain significant amounts of sugar. While many of them are preferable to their non-organic counterparts, the sugar content is something to be aware of. Don’t keep these foods at home, otherwise you may find them to hard to resist.
2. Stop drinking any form of soda and other sweetened drinks.
The amount of sweetener in any type of soft drink is very high. A 12-ounce can contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. If you can drop the soft drinks, you will instantly reduce your sugar habit significantly. Another obvious food item to eliminate is candy - and don’t go for the “sugar-free” options, as these sweeteners are toxic in other ways.
3. Get enough sleep.
When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.
4. Learn to read labels.
Educate yourself about what you’re putting in your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list, so check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving (1 teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to about 4 grams).
5. Drink lots of water.
Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with he sugar cravings. Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.
Stick to all natural sweeteners in small amounts, such as real maple syrup, raw honey and fruits. By doing this, you will lower your risk of illness and disease, manage and maintain your weight, improve your appearance, improve dental health and increase your energy. The benefits that you can experience from cutting refined sugar from your diet are too powerful to ignore. And that, I hope, will be enough.
A serial entrepreneur and former financial advisor, Jean Titus discovered his purpose and passion through the heartache of losing loved ones far too early. He lives his mantra – “We rise by lifting others” – daily as a life coach and Personal Trainer. Jean brings a simplicity and practicality to his work, helping clients draw on their strengths to realize the one thing money can’t buy – good health and wellness. Follow him on Instagram and his fitness journey!