Sugar, sugar…..You got a hold on me!

Whatever’s wrong with you?  It’s probably caused by sugar!

sugarHi friends!

Well it’s definitely true what they say.  There’s nothing worse than a reformed addict!  Although I am still in the recovery stages, I figure it’s probably about time I admitted it,  “Hi, I’m Norma and I am a sugar addict.”

Although it has been glaringly obvious to my husband, daughter, and sister, I  have been in denial for some time, now.  Despite having been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes six years ago, I have continued to consume sugary treats even though my feet kill me from neuropathy (nerve damage caused by chronic high blood sugar); I go completely “loopy”, whereby the words coming out of my mouth don’t make a bit of sense and I can’t remember my last name; and I am moody as fuck!  Even when my own body turned on me by sending me into a tailspin with a major arthritis attack, whereby my hands swelled to the size of bowling balls (unbelievably painful!), I would not admit to  sugar being the cause.

Wow! You might think – Is she ever stupid! In my own defense, I say that everybody has their vice; something that makes them happy, makes them feel good, and fills an emotional void.  For some, it’s booze, for others it’s drugs, some even say that sex can be an addiction!  Some people blame their mothers for bribing them with cookies or candies to “be good” when they were youngsters.  If my mom did that, then I continued  in her footsteps by rewarding myself with candy bars for getting tasks done at work, or with a whole big bowl of ice cream for getting through a day with the mother-in-law! (I still think that might be warranted!)

hershey kissesHaving this addiction causes the same kind of sneaky behaviour as alcoholics exhibit, in trying to hide their booze and their drinking.  I would buy a big bag of Hershey kisses to fill up my candy bowl in the living room.  Every day I would be in there several times, sneaking them, but making sure I filled up the bowl again to make it look like I wasn’t eating them!  I would do the same with chocolates, buying two boxes at a time, replacing the ones I ate with chocolates from the “reserve” box.  My daughter caught on to my keeping a stash of chocolate bars and candy in my  home office for ‘medicinal purposes’ when I was suffering a late afternoon sugar crash, or just needed a reward or pick me up during the day.  If I was doing something stressful, like those damnable bank reconciliations, I could go through a whole bag of sour ju-jubes!  Oh yes! The addiction runs deep!

So, what, you may be wondering, has opened my eyes about the sugar addiction?  Well, I just came across an article on my Facebook newsfeed about the latest medical studies on the effects of refined sugar on our diet.  Yeah, sure, we’re all sick and tired of hearing about the links to obesity, diabetes, and other immunodeficiency diseases, as well as heart disease, inflammatory diseases such as arthritis (all of which I have developed, incidentally), plus the effects on memory and mental clarity.  Now, the latest studies are indicating that refined sugar is a major contributor to depression and schizophrenia!!  Is it any wonder that it seems the world has gone crazy lately?

So, what has the latest scientific studies found?  I’m glad you asked!

sugar 10It is a given that every cell in your body runs on sugar, including your brain cells.  Regardless what you eat, your body must convert it to glucose (sugar) otherwise, you would have no energy and wouldn’t be able to function.  Fruit is naturally full of fructose and glucose which your body can easily convert to usable energy. Your brain operates in the presence of many hormones, one of which has been identified as BDNF –  brain derived neurotrophic factor – which is extremely important for the health of neurons in the brain.  BDNF triggers new connections in the neurons which are critical for memory function.  It has been found that refined sugar consumption suppresses the production of BDNF.  Patients with depression and schizophrenia  show low levels of BDNF, therefore, it has been concluded that the consumption of refined sugar has the potential to exacerbate depression and schizophrenia by contributing to low BDNF levels.

sugar 5As I mentioned earlier, refined sugar is notorious for causing increased inflammation (remember my arthritis attack?) which can lead to auto-immune disfunction. Inflammation has been linked to depression and is also the most common cause of poor digestion and overall gut health. Have you ever had a yeast infection?  Sugar probably contributed to an overgrowth of the Candida bacteria in your stomach, causing a whole host of annoying and uncomfortable symptoms.  With the average person consuming over 100 grams of sugar each day in the form of high-fructose corn syrup, it’s no wonder that yeast infections are so common, but did you know that metabolic by-products of yeast can damage neurons and further contribute to poor mental health and brain function?

Also, 50% of high fructose corn syrup has also been found to contain toxic mercury, which will wreak havoc on your body. Heavy metal toxicity has been linked to neurological disorders. From mercury and lead to arsenic, one thing heavy metals seem to have in common is their association with cognitive decline. Although aluminum is not a heavy metal, it too, is linked to cognitive disorders, including Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.

sugar 4If you have ever experienced someone who gets “hangry” (the combination of anger and hunger that arises when one hasn’t eaten) or experienced yourself not thinking straight when your blood sugar levels dropped and you needed food an hour ago, you have experienced what can happen to the state of mental clarity when blood sugar levels are not balanced.  I’m sure you’ve seen the Snickers Bar commercial on TV with the theme “You’re not yourself when you’re hungry” which, ironically suggests a candy bar as a “fix” for “hangry” behaviour!  Not only does sugar make us feel “high” and “spacy” when we eat it, but repeated consumption of high sugar foods and refined carbohydrates, such as bread and pasta, can create a condition in which the body becomes “insulin resistant.” Insulin resistance prevents brain cells from accessing glucose so we can’t think straight. Even worse, in some cases, the brain will use cortisol as energy, which actually damages neurons.

So, are you convinced yet that refined sugar is not good for you?  I sure am.  Even as I regretfully throw away all of my sugary snacks and stoically avoid the cookie aisle at the supermarket, like a true addict, I can still hear their tiny voices calling out to me, and I have to make a conscious effort to squash the sugar cravings. I am, however, encouraged by the assurances of the doctors and researchers who claim, “If you do nothing else but decrease the amount of sugar in your diet, the many cells in your brain will thank you and your brain will function in ways you never imagined.”  I live in hope!

To our good health!

norma nametag 2

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