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Has Sugar Duped You?
Written by Dr. Kellyann Petrucci
I appeared on Good Day LA to talk about foods that blast belly fat, lift and tighten the skin, help keep your mind young, and blast wrinkles.
To avoid pre-mature aging, you have to tell a certain someone to hit the pavement. Until you do, you may just have an epic battle on your hands.
This certain someone? The Sugar Demon. Have you met?
Just ask yourself if this sounds familiar:
You’re wandering through the grocery store, tossing celery and paper towels in your cart, when you turn a corner and come face-to-face with the bakery section. And there it is: a triple-layer cake, dripping with rich, dark buttercream frosting.
Out of the blue, that cake hits you right in the gut. Five seconds ago, you weren’t thinking about cake. In fact, you weren’t even hungry. But now you can taste the satisfying sweetness of the frosting. You can imagine the warm, mellow sensation of that first bite. And instantly, you find yourself in the grip of an intense craving.
Now, here’s the question: Do you reach for the cake? Or do you sigh, turn away, and reach nobly for the sugar-free cookies on the other side of the aisle instead?
Well, it’s a trick question, because either way, you’ve been duped. And it’s not your fault. Instead, you can blame your genes—and the food manufacturers who know exactly how to take advantage of them.
Why you’re a slave to the Sugar Demon
Food cravings originate in our brains. And a long time ago, those cravings made a lot of sense.
Imagine a time when the only sweet-tasting foods available on our planet were fruits and honey. These foods, packed with nutrients, grew only in certain seasons or in places where climates remained warm year-round.
As a result, here’s how we as a species ate sweets for thousands of years. We picked a handful of berries here and an apple there. We scooped some honey out of a comb. Occasionally, we feasted on a few wild melons or savored an orange. And each time, we got a power shot of immune system-boosting nutrients with our little dose of sugar.
Because the nutrients in sweet foods kept us healthy, our genes learned a big lesson over thousands and thousands of years: sweet is good. So those genes programmed our body chemistry to make us crave sugary foods.
How did they do this? The answer lies in a chemical called dopamine. This neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger that delivers signals to and from the brain) helps control our feelings of reward and pleasure.
The cells in our nervous system release dopamine for many healthy reasons—for instance, when we exercise or when we get a hug. But we also get a dopamine hit from substances like narcotics, caffeine, and sugar. When we eat a sugary snack or dessert, the resulting dopamine spike sends signals throughout the body that make us want to keep seeking that pleasurable feeling.
Our craving for sugar worked just fine back when the sweet foods we ate were good for us. In fact, it helped keep us alive and healthy. But then came packaged and processed foods. And that’s when our epic battle with the Sugar Demon began.
You see, that message our genes programmed into us— sweet food is good—only works when sweet foods are both nutrient-dense and scarce. But in a world of processed foods, there’s no brake on our craving for sweets. The more we get, the more we want—and getting more is as easy as taking a trip to the grocery store.
As a result, we now eat massive quantities of sugar. And that sugar isn’t packaged in nutrient-rich berries or carrots or grapes. Instead, it’s contained in nutrient-depleted foods that leave us obese and malnourished… and constantly craving for more.
How the Sugar Demon’s allies take advantage of you
Now, all of this raises some obvious questions. After all, it’s not like berries and apples and carrots simply vanished from our lives at some point. They’re still there in the produce section, and they’re plentiful, too. We can get them any time of year, and they’re even cheap.
So why don’t we crave these foods? And why do we turn instead to doughnuts, cookies, and ice cream?
The reason is that food companies understand the sugar-dopamine connection well. In fact, these companies know exactly how much sugar to put in food to make us crave their products instead of real food.
Companies like Nabisco, Coca-Cola, and General Mills have entire staffs of scientists whose job is to figure out how to get enough sugar into their foods to get us hooked. And because they want us really hooked, they put in far, far more sugar than we’d get from a banana or a berry. As a result, the real foods that once satisfied our desire for sweets don’t stand a chance against processed snacks, soft drinks, or cereals.
In short, our sugar craving all comes down to money. And oddly, it all started with a bowl of cereal.
More than a century ago, John Harvey Kellogg set out with the intention of making America healthy. As part of his quest, Kellogg created a cereal made from shredded wheat. He served this flaked cereal at breakfast to guests at his health facility. In high season, as many as 400 guests visited the facility and happily ate this “health cereal” of shredded wheat.
Kellogg’s younger brother, however, wasn’t just thinking about people’s health. Will, the business brain of the outfit, also saw dollar signs. He took over the cereal operation and expanded from shredded wheat cereal to cereal made out of corn flakes.
In 1906, when John Harvey went off to Europe to attend a medical convention, his brother had yet another idea. This time, he added sugar to the corn flakes mixture.
Sure, the patients ate the healthy shredded wheat and corn mixture cereal, and they liked it okay. After all, it was all in the name of health. But they fell in love with Will’s newly sweetened breakfast cereal.
This, Sweeties, was the beginning of the end.
Kellogg’s sugared cereal caught on big-time. And suddenly, the traditional bacon-and-eggs breakfast as we knew it was gone, and people replaced vilified fats with sugar—and lots of it. Some cereals were comprised of as much as 43 percent sugar!
As other manufacturers caught on to the booming and very profitable sugary cereal scene, they decided to up the ante. If a little sugar created such a sales buzz, they reasoned, then more sugar could create an even bigger demand. Before long, nearly every cereal had a sweet name, like sugar-frosted, sugar-coated, sugar pops, or sugar flakes.
By the 1970s, Western palates had changed dramatically, and so had Western society. More and more families had two income earners, and convenience became crucial. Families had more money than time, and pouring sugary cereals out of a box took the stress out of breakfast.
Of course, food manufacturers dialed into this data. Cereal fed into a specific lifestyle. This was disastrous for health, but it was brilliant for marketing.
And needless to say, something else dawned on food manufacturers—if they could sell sugary cereal by the truckload, couldn’t they sell other convenience foods by making them sweeter? Visualizing their profits soaring, they started adding huge doses of sugar (and later, high-fructose corn syrup) to everything in sight.
As a result, sugary foods that meet our “lifestyle needs” are everywhere today. With our ever-growing desire for quick meals and snacks, it’s easy for manufacturers to get us to buy pre-sweetened and processed foods—bagels, yogurt, soda, fruit juices, pastries, snack packs, you name it.
To make matters even worse, manufacturers hide sugar in foods that you may not even think are sweet. Many foods that they tout as “low-fat” or “non-fat” have added sweeteners or artificial sweeteners to trick your taste buds. Yet another way we’ve been duped!
Why “sugar-free” makes things even worse
So that’s where we are today. Manufacturers (and our own genes) keep telling us to overload ourselves with sugar, and most people are doing just that. As a result, they’re gaining weight. They don’t feel good. They drag through the day, swigging coffee or energy drinks just to get by. And their doctors are saying ominous phrases like pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
However, growing numbers of people are saying, “This isn’t working for me.” They want to lose weight and get fit. They want to feel good and look good again. They want to live long, healthy lives without the threat of diabetes or obesity hanging over their heads. And they’re aware that sugar is a big part of their problem.
As a result, these people are looking for new way to satisfy their sugar cravings—and many of them are pinning their hopes on artificial sweeteners. After all, these “fake sugars” seem to offer the best of both worlds: They serve up all the sweetness of sugar, without the downside of calories. That’s why artificial sweeteners are the new bling of the food industry, appearing in everything from sodas to cake mixes.
But guess what: Artificial sweeteners aren’t the answer. In fact, they actually make things worse.
Why? First, unlike the natural “good guy” sweeteners you’ll meet later in this book— honey, maple syrup, coconut nectar, dates, fruit juice, stevia, cane sugar, raw sugar, and turbinado—artificial sweeteners contain no immune-boosting nutrients.
Second, your body doesn’t metabolize all sweeteners the same way. It’s pretty complicated, but the main point is that artificial sweeteners—along with several other sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup and agave nectar, which I’ll talk about later on—are very taxing to your liver when you load up on them (which is ridiculously easy to do). Your liver’s job is to keep your cells from holding a lot of toxins, and when you keep throwing the “bad guy” sweeteners in, your liver can’t catch up. As a result, you feel tired and sick.
Third, science reveals that the more artificial sweeteners you ingest, the more you want. And tricking your body with these artificial sweeteners only makes it harder for you to lose weight. That’s because the sweetness signals your body to anticipate a lot of calories. When that doesn’t happen, your body gets confused, and your brain demands more calories. As a result, you wind up eating more food—and gaining more pounds.
The real way to slay the Sugar Demon
So now you know the bad news. Manufacturers, knowing that sugar sells, load your food with more and more of it. Your body, wired to think that sweet is good, says, “Oh, yeah. Give me more of that.” Like a junkie, you crave the next dopamine hit, and there’s an overwhelming temptation to get that hit from a cookie, an ice cream bar, or a carton of sugar-packed strawberry yogurt.
Worse yet, it turns out that artificial sweeteners—those white knights you thought would help you battle the Sugar Demon—are siding with the enemy. Far from riding to your rescue, they ramp up your sugar and calorie cravings and make you put on even more pounds.
Right now, I’m guessing that all of this sounds pretty depressing. Are you just doomed to being overweight, feeling sluggish and “blah,” and putting yourself at risk for serious obesity or even diabetes?
Well, here’s the good news: The answer is a resounding no! As hundreds of my patients can tell you, you can kick the sugar habit. You can lose weight, regain your energy, and drastically lower your risk of diabetes and other life-threatening problems. You can feel years younger—and you can look younger as well.
I won’t tell you that you can do all of this instantly. But I will tell you that it’s far easier than you think.
And here’s more good news: You won’t feel deprived when you kick the Sugar Demon out of your life forever. That’s because before long, you’ll be able to walk past a doughnut or cupcake without feeling a single twinge of desire. I know this sounds absolutely impossible right now, but it’s true. When you break your sugar habit the scientific way, you can walk away and never look back.
So how do you start? By becoming attentive to what your brain and your taste buds are really trying to tell you. When you give them what they want and need, you can power through and crush your sugar cravings once and for all.
Turning off the sugar faucet doesn’t mean giving up on the gooey stuff, it just means redefining sweets and treats!
The day you kick sugar out of your life is the day you begin to enjoy living, from the moment you wake up energized in the morning until you turn in at night for a restful, undisturbed and peaceful sleep. The remarkable benefits of living without sugar are numerous. Those who commit to a sugar-free diet/lifestyle undergo a fantastic transformation that includes turning back the aging clock, glowing skin, eyes that sparkle, improved sleep patterns, weight loss, a shifting of weight, strength, energy, clear-headedness and more.
Additionally, many health ailments become all but a memory. Those include digestive distress, depression, allergies, acne and others.
If you’re living with any of the above issues, its’ a good bet sugar is one of your daily companions.
If your mission is to be healthy, to feel — and look — good, the most important thing you’ll need to do is banish sugar once and for all.
And that means going up against … the Sugar Demon!
Everyone knows someone who, after the end of a meal, searches high and low for something sweet — anything! Heck, one might even settle for a stale, years-old, foil-stuck mint — anything that is going to stop the Sugar Demon’s sugar fits is up for grabs.
Undoubtedly, distancing yourself from sugar is not easy! The insidious effects that sugar has on you make it extremely difficult to crush the sugar rush. But no matter how addicted you may be (most of us are, incidentally), you can beat this guy! You can distance yourself. You don’t need to let him take you down. I have seen successes time and time again where folks do indeed outsmart, say, a donut!
How do you know if you’re addicted to sugar?
You may be thinking … “yeah, but that’s not me. I’m not addicted to anything.”
Are you sure? Here’s the telltale sign: If eating sugar makes all of your symptoms magically disappear for a while (as “sugar tooth” symptoms do), or you struggle to go for long periods of time without sugar — you’re probably addicted. The good news: With a little sleuthing and some white knuckling, you can slay this addiction in no time.
What’s so bad about sugar, anyway?
Sugar Hit #1: First off, sugar ages you. If you want to know how to look fresh and age defying, don’t create crappy cells. Think of a baby at birth. They smell fresh and new. That’s because they are alkaline. This means “fresh,” so to speak, as opposed to a banana when it ages, oxidizing and turning brown. That’s what sugar does! It oxidizes us, breaks us down and ages all of the structures and functions of the body.
Sugar Hit #2: Sugar is like charred glass in your vessels. It causes lots of inflammation, which is the backstory behind just about every disease. Inflammation also makes you tired, achy and old. No thanks!
Sugar Hit #3: Sugar creates all kind of blood-sugar issues, making you moody, sick and fat. You probably know by now that diabetes and pre-diabetic issues have reached pandemic levels. The effects are pretty nasty, but if you are dealing with those issues already, detoxing your body of sugar is already sending you off on the right foot!
Sugar creates tons of additional negative effects. The bottom line: Sugar gunks up your body; it creates a toxic environment. Cells hate this. They don’t thrive in a sugar-gunked environment. Nor do you. Remember this: Where there is waste in the body, there is weight. Where there is weight, there is disease. Sugar causes pre-mature aging and who wants to sign up for that?
Make it a point to know how much sugar you are getting and the source of that sugar. Doing this one simple thing for yourself will pay off in spades! If you want a great program to help you detox from sugar, check out my 30 Day Reset.
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