SWIHA Blog

Sugar in the Raw: Facts, Effects, & Reward

Posted by Jenn Bragg on 12/12/16 9:09 AM

During the eight-week holiday season—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve—we are constantly surrounded by sweet treats and other foods we normally do not eat. However, in the grand scheme of things, two months is minute compared to the rest of the year when many people are not paying attention to what they are consuming on a regular basis.

Sugar is a sneaky crystalline substance that is in nearly everything we eat. Trying to avoid it is like trying to avoid getting hit by a raindrop while running to your car during a rainstorm! Almost all processed, canned, fast, and restaurant foods contain sugar or high fructose corn syrup (fructose). Companies know that adding sugar to their products will make them taste better to our Western-tongues. If you find you get a craving for certain foods from restaurants or grocery stores, it is very possible you have adopted a sugar addiction because your body is craving the sugar within the food.

The Science

Dopamine is released in the “reward center” of our brains when we eat sweets. Just like drugs, once we come down (crash) from the sugar “high”, dopamine levels are depleted, creating a need for more. Most people do not realize that they are addicted to sugar and some don’t to really care. Lacking knowledge in holistic nutrition does not do anyone any favors.

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So let’s pretend for a moment, that you have to go the next twenty-four hours without sugar of any form. No honey, white sugar, cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, molasses, agave, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane sugar, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, and also no fruit juices. Go to your kitchen right now and see how many things you will be able to eat if you have to completely avoid everything from this above list. Other than fresh fruits or vegetables and some meat, you aren’t left with too many choices, are you? This is becoming more and more of a problem in America, in turn, producing a multitude of health issues, diseases, illnesses, obesity, and now more than ever, childhood obesity.

Foods That Hide Sugar

  • Condiments: ketchup, BBQ sauce, some hot sauces
  • Asian sauces (ie, teriyaki, soy, ponzu)
  • Pre-made dips (ie, onion, ranch, bean)
  • Pre-made side dishes (ie, supermarket macaroni or potato salad, coleslaw)
  • Canned biscuits and frozen pizza
  • Processed meats (ie, bacon, sausage, hot dogs)
  • Flavored oatmeal and cereal
  • Baked beans
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Tortilla wraps
  • Taco shells
  • Flavored yogurts
  • Pita bread, bread, naan

Other Names for Sugar

Agave nectar, barley malt, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, brown sugar, buttered sugar, cane crystals, cane juice, cane juice, cane sugar, caramel, anything with ‘syrup’ in it, crystalline fructose, date sugar, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, turbinado sugar

Effects of Sugar on the Body

  • Fat, obesity
  • Insulin resistance
  • encourages premature aging
  • Memory loss
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Feeds infection/ illness/disease
    • cancer
    • colds
    • tooth infection
    • influenza
    • sinus infection
    • obesity
    • diabetes

We know sugar is bad for us, however, do we know why? What does it do to our body? First and foremost, sugar does not contain any nutrients and is full of “empty” calories. We know sugar is bad for our teeth, yet, do we know why? Well, our mouths are full of good and bad bacteria and sugar feeds the bad bacteria creating grounds for decay.

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In digestion, it is broken down into fructose and glucose, where it then enters the bloodstream and can only be metabolized by the liver. There are no other organs that can manage this task, therefore leaving our already overworked livers to do the job. The most well-known effect that sugar has on the body, is fat production, causing weight gain. Fructose is converted into glycogen and must be stored until it is needed, and at that point, it is converted to glucose for energy. If your body contains too much glycogen that has not been utilized, it gets stored as fat, which is one of the leading causes of obesity.

Sugar also suppresses white blood cell activity, making us more susceptible infection, illness, and disease. This includes colds, a tooth infection, the flu, or a sinus infection. It is literally food to all of these! According to many scientists, having elevated levels of insulin over long periods of time can even contribute to cancer. Furthermore, staying away from sugar while ill or fighting infection, will allow for a quicker recovery.

Developing new eating habits and doing your best to avoid sugar will not only help you have a better night’s sleep, it will create better health and possibly prevent disease and illness from occurring. Reading labels and making your own fresh food at home is a great way to start.

Keep In Mind

By: Ravynn Rohner

It is 100% okay to eat a little sugar in moderation, and ‘moderation’ is defined by everyone’s personal opinion and choice. For example, to some people it might mean constant label reading and only one Hershey’s Kiss a day and ½ tsp sugar to their morning coffee, while others do no label-reading and permit a mid-day can of Coke and a couple cookies after dinner. You will find as you become more mindful of your diet and what you are putting in your body, your definition of moderation may change. Be careful not to put others down by judging their version of moderation.

However, if you already have a pre-existing illness or issue that sugar agitates; or if you have likelihood for diabetes based on your family history, you may need to rethink what moderation means to you. Every ‘body’ is different, and it is best to speak with a health practitioner or doctor if you do not know how your body processes sugar or if you have any other questions. As always: Be safe, Be smart!

In life we must learn to pick our battles. A couple weeks of Christmas cookies or egg nog may not be the one to fight the good fight. If you struggle with dietary restrictions, than start the process by making very small changes. Along the way, don’t forget to reward yourself: buy new pajamas or bed sheets; treat yourself to a Signature Facial by a student from  SWINA (Southwest Institute of Natural Aesthetics), or book a massage at SWIHA’s Student Clinic. It is very challenging work to lead healthier lives. We all deserve to honor ourselves when we do the work to lead healthier lives.

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Help Educate Others

If you feel inspired to learn more about Holistic Nutrition and how food can heal our bodies and minds, then check out our programs, and see if one of them is for you. If you think you would enjoy helping others get on a healthier diet, you may love becoming a Holistic Nutrition Wellness Practitioner or Specialist. At Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, we offer on-campus and online programs in these areas. You can stop by Student Services and pick up a complimentary 4-hour Guest Pass, and sit in on an upcoming nutrition class.

Then, join us for a special Gifts and Graces on January 6, 2017 at from 6:00 pm-7:30 pm. KC Miller and Mary Ritter will be hosting the event, showcasing a diagnostic tool that will help you identify your spiritual abilities, validate the ones you currently use, or remind you of your talents you may have forgotten! Following the presentation, attendees will be divided into groups by areas of personal interest, including holistic nutrition.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Learn More About Our Holistic Nutrition Programs

Topics: holistic, wellness, Massage, Holistic Nutrition, healing, practitioner, Mindful, sugar, dopamine, obesity

About the Author Jenn Bragg

Jenn graduated from the Holistic Wellness Practitioner program specializing in Holistic Nutrition, Urban Farming, and Life Coaching. She continues to use the skills she learned in her certification programs to coach her clients on how to have healthier lives. She enjoys helping them find simplicity in an otherwise complicated world, in order to bring more joy and peace into their lives.

Jenn Bragg

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