By Dr. LEAH HAHN, D.C.
Summer is here — beautiful Colorado mornings, hot days, and cooler nights. Summer can be a time to relax and enjoy our beautiful surroundings. To many Americans that means more time spent poolside, more social gatherings, and a little more “lax” schedule. Along with that is the tendency to have less regard for what we are eating.
By now, lacking a lot of accountability, many Americans have long forgotten their New Year’s Resolutions, or they have started and stopped a multitude of diet plans.
At the root of this problem is our good (but destructive) old friend, SUGAR. If there was one dietary habit I could change for Americans it would be once and for all saying goodbye to their sugar habit. Think about it: in January, we are gung-ho to get our health back on track. We work hard to eat less and move more. Research says some people don’t make it more than 3 days with their resolution, but certainly most Americans fall off track by Valentine’s Day when we get our next dose of sweets and celebrations. For many, it is all downhill from there. Between Easter, graduation parties, the 4th of July, Halloween, and then into the holidays, it may feel pointless. I talk to many who tell me things like: “I want to get rid of sugar, but I have a birthday party coming up, so I need to wait until that is over.”
What if you worked effectively to get rid of your sugar (and carbohydrate) addiction? What if your life wasn’t a roller coaster of hunger, cravings, and weight gain? Sugar (and foods that easily convert to sugar) is the culprit for many Americans’ health issues. The latest research points to sugar (not to saturated fat) and the systemic inflammation it creates as being the link between diet and heart disease. Sugar and the damage it causes to the liver, is now known as the most common cause of high cholesterol. Sugar causes the body to be in a very acidic state, creating joint and cartilage damage as well as increasing muscle tenderness and pain. Sugar is destructive to the gut, causing an increase in “bad” bacteria and a decrease in “good,” protective bacteria. Sugar causes increased weight gain around the middle, increased blood sugar, a higher risk of diabetes, and can interfere with your sleep. (Sugar causes an increase in cortisol levels/stress hormones,) Cancer cells have a greater affinity for sugar than other cells in the body. It goes on and on!
Sugar is an addictive substance. In fact, studies have shown that sugar is more highly addictive than cocaine. Every time you consume sugar, your body forms an allergic response to the sugar (antibodies attack the sugar). This means that when you are done eating the sugar, (and think, “OK, I can get back on track now.”) the antibodies need more sugar to live so you crave more sugar. This creates an endless cycle of ups and downs in energy, cravings, stress, and poor health. Let’s get rid of it! We are on a mission!
[This article was published July 5, 2018 in the Denver Post. The author is my brother’s functional medicine practitioner in Golden, Colorado.]