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Is Sugar the New Nicotine?

Addicted to Sugar?

There’s been a mass explosion in the press about the harmful effects of sugar.  Better late than never some would say, but a bit like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.  The genie is out of the bottle and it’s going to take a Herculean effort by public health bodies to get him back in.  Too many of our foods are laced with sugar, and manufacturers will strongly resist any attempts at reducing levels – why would they?  The abundance of sugar in the diet has turned us into a bunch of sugar addicts – we like sugar, and some of us crave it.  Sugar gives us an instant hit, it tastes good, it makes us feel good.  So we just want more.


The problem is that we end up creating a cycle of ‘highs and lows’, as the rapid release of sugar into the blood creates a ‘high’, but is soon followed by a ‘low’, as the body strives to remove the excess sugar from the system.  This ‘roller-coaster’ effect can leave your mind reeling – it is one of the most common culprits for mood imbalance.


What’s the solution?  Don’t we need sugar for energy?  In short, no, sugar just provides ‘empty calories’, with no nutritional benefit.  We can get all the sugar we need from natural, unprocessed foods – vegetables, fruits, and wholegrain foods (refined and white flour products are akin to sugar – they are rapidly digested and raise blood sugar levels quickly).  We need to prevent the ‘lows’ by eating foods that are broken down slowly by the digestive system – the cravings will soon diminish as your blood sugar is better managed.


In my clinic I see a wide range of problems whose roots can be attributed to a chronic high intake of sugar, including yeast overgrowth, low immunity, weight problems, IBS, and they may take time to tackle.  However, all of us can benefit quickly from reducing sugary foods in the diet and replacing with wholesome foods.


Ten Tips to Beat the Sugar Blues:

  1. Always eat breakfast
  2. Include a little protein (e.g. fish, meat, nuts, beans) with each meal
  3. Eat only wholegrain carbohydrates – no white starches such as white bread
  4. Increase your intake of beans, lentils, nuts and seeds
  5. Avoid sugar and food containing sugar (look for ingredients ending in ‘ose’) e.g. glucose, maltose, dextrose, sucrose; also honey, which has the same effect
  6. Avoid convenience foods, certain to contain refined carbohydrates
  7. Avoid ‘low-fat’ products – most are high in sugar!
  8. Avoid fizzy drinks, including low calorie
  9. Limit alcohol and pure fruit juice – and drink only with food
  10. Limit tea and coffee, replace with herbal infusions


Wendy Smith BSc (Hons), Nutritional Therapist, MBANT, CHNC approved

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