When you aren't quite meeting your health goals, yet doing all the "right" things. The culprit is likely inflammation. When we are watching how much we eat, moving our bodies regularly, maybe even practising intermittent fasting and still not seeing the results. We have to consider food! It is the one thing we are doing daily, multiple times a day in fact. If you are eating inflammatory foods daily, you are likely suffering from low-grade chronic inflammation. Your immune system gets triggered by the inflammatory response and will be constantly on high alert, this is tiring for the body and over time this can cause dis-ease to the whole system. It may look like weight gain, digestive issues, skin issues, diabetes, heart disease or any other number of chronic degenerative diseases.
Number 1 most Inflammatory food...SUGAR. It's gotta go.
When we regularly consume too much sugar; whether from a refined source like cakes and cookies, processed foods with added sweeteners like soft drinks, candy or dairy products or a complex carbohydrate like rice pasta or potatoes our blood sugar levels rise. There are only 3 possible outcomes for glucose in the body, it can be used as a fuel source for exercise, stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver or it's converted to fat. A large rise in blood sugar stimulates the production of free radicals in the body. Free radicals are unstable oxygen molecules that bounce throughout the body and are known to damage the cell lining of blood vessels and many other organs. This free radical damage creates an immune response by releasing inflammatory cytokines. Cytokines are cell signalling molecules that help cells communicate in an immune response and stimulate the movement of cells towards sites of inflammation, infection and trauma to help heal the tissue. Which is awesome in any acute situations but not so good when its our sweet tooth that triggers an immune response daily. Especially since sugar also weakens the immune system making us susceptible to infections like colds and flu by suppressing the ability of white blood cells, the germ killing cells, to do their job.
Sugar negatively impacts mental health, specifically depression and anxiety. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that contributes to the feeling of well-being and happiness and is mostly produced in the gut. Sugar interferes with the body’s ability to produce serotonin. B vitamins are important; especially folic acid for serotonin production, but if we are consuming too much sugar, the B vitamins are used to metabolize the sugar and there’s not enough left over for serotonin production which can lead to depression.
Over-consumption of sugar creates a roller coaster ride for the blood sugar levels. When blood sugar level crashes, it can trigger an anxiety attack. When your brain becomes desperate for food, you get shaky, weak, confused and anxious.
Sugar has also been shown to make us moody and angry by messing with another neurotransmitter; dopamine, by decreasing the number of dopamine receptors in the brain. This makes it harder to feel the effects of dopamine and creates dopamine resistance, which is the same neurological response that is observed in drug addicts. Yep that's right, sugar is as powerful as a drug when it comes to its effect on our brains! When we eat sugar, the brain’s reward centre gets activated. This leads to more sugar cravings! When we feel hunger, we will reach for a food with an even higher sugar content to get that dopamine hit and that's when we find ourselves in a vicious cycle… setting the stage for addiction. Just like any other addiction, you may go through withdrawal when you try to stop eating sugar.
As a general rule, the more processed and refined the carbohydrate, the faster it breaks down in the digestive system. Which simply means the bigger the sugar dose, the bigger the sugar crash. Inevitably the body has to respond to recalibrate itself. That’s why refined flours, sugars, and sugar syrups create added stress in the body and pose such a problem for our general health and contribute to systemic inflammation.
Let's break down sugar.
Monosaccharides are the simplest form of carbohydrate, they consist of only one sugar and generally are sweet. Glucose and fructose are monosaccharides. When 2 monosaccharides link together they form a disaccharide, examples of these are cane sugar, fruit and vegetables. Then there are polysaccharides or complex carbohydrates which are longer molecules containing more than 10 monosaccharides, the 2 types are starches and non-starches. Examples of starches are plants, seeds and tubers that grown below the ground, foods like rice, potatoes, corn, and refined foods like pasta and breads. Non-starch polysaccharides are really just a fancy way of saying fiber. High fiber foods help to slow the sugar release at meal time, its keep the bowels happy and feeds the good gut bugs.
Glucose is a sugar that comes from starches like sweet potatoes. Our body stores and manufactures glucose and every cell in the body uses glucose for energy. Glucose is a molecule absolutely vital to life. Fructose from fruit, however, is not. Humans don't produce fructose in the body and throughout history have never consumed much of it, only seasonally when fruit was ripe. Glucose and fructose are metabolized very differently by the body. During a meal, your liver will store sugar, or glucose, as glycogen for a later time when your body needs it.
What you need to know is that while every cell in the body can use glucose, the liver is the only organ that can metabolize fructose in significant amounts. Fructose must be converted to glucose in the liver before it can be used by the body as fuel. Fruit is fructose and therefore should only be eaten in small amounts, ideally no more than 25 grams of fructose a day. Historically our ancestors only ate fruit seasonally when it was ripe, they didn't have access to it all year round like we do today! Our bodies were not meant to process the insane amounts of sugars, society is consuming today. Preferable sources of fruit would be low fructose, high nutrient fruits from the berry family; raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries.
So when we eat a diet that is high in calories and high in fructose, the liver gets overloaded and starts storing the fructose as fat. Fructose also doesn’t affect satiety in the same way as glucose, hence making you eat more total calories automatically if you are snacking on fructose type foods. This is how a diet too high in sugar and carbohydrates can make us fat.
In our Reset program, as we eliminate the sugar from all sources except complex carbohydrates, we also increase fats, specifically Bulletproof Brain Octane oil, a concentrated C8 oil which has been shown to reduce cravings and combat yeast which helps to harmonize the microbiome and decrease inflammation.
Read your labels! When trying to avoid certain foods you always have to check the label... it is so surprising what you will find even in some "health foods".
Avoid these guys like the plague:
It's made by substituting chlorine for some molecules in regular sugar, which makes it look like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) which are known carcinogens. It messes with your gut bacteria, but the craziest part is that no one knows what it does or where it all goes in the body.
It has been linked to different cancers as it metabolizes into formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen. It also causes crazy food cravings!
High-Fructose corn syrup:
This is made from refining GMO corn sugar into a concentrated syrup. It gets added to almost all processed foods. It damages your liver, makes you fat, contributes to many disease processes like diabetes, hypertension and gout.
Fruit juice concentrate:
Made from the lowest quality, most mouldy fruit that can’t be used anywhere else. Yuck!
Agave is made from the agave plant but it is 70-90% fructose... not the ideal sweetener, even if it is natural. Remember fructose takes a toll on the liver, big time!
Enjoy these natural sugars in small amounts, occasionally.
White sugar (sucrose):
It is an equal mix of glucose and fructose. Eating a small amount is not bad, overdoing it leads to tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
This is sucrose (mix of glucose and fructose) with added molasses, which is a by-product of sugar manufacturing. Molasses contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals such as B6, calcium, potassium, copper, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and selenium.
Is almost all sucrose (mix of glucose and fructose). It raises blood sugars less than regular sucrose. And it contains nutrients like magnesium, zinc, potassium, iron and B vitamin.
Real maple syrup:
The real stuff contains manganese, zinc, calcium, potassium, magnesium and zinc. The fake ones are made of mostly high-fructose corn syrup.
Raw honey contains antioxidants, enzymes and nutrients. It also has antimicrobial properties. But it has to be raw, once heated it no longer has the same effects.
Here’s a list of alternative sweeteners that will sweeten your food with minimal effect on your blood sugar and insulin. Experiment with these and find one that works best for you!
Xylitol (from North American Hardwood):
It is a sugar alcohol found in fruit and vegetables that is sweeter than table sugar. Start with small amounts because it can upset your digestive system with gas or even diarrhea. Or if you use GMO corn based xylitol you could experience these side effects as well. So quality matters here too.
Another natural sugar found in fruits and vegetables. It has no effect on blood glucose or insulin levels. And causes less gastric troubles than other sugar alcohols. Watch out for GMO versions though.
Made from the leaves from the stevia plant, it has been shown to improve blood glucose control and help diabetic patients manage their blood sugar levels.