Who doesn’t love a spoonful of ice cream, a bite of chocolate cake or a cup of tea with biscuits?
But our love affair with sugar is one of the main culprits linked to the overall decline in health in the developed world and reducing our intake is recommended if we want to protect ourselves from chronic disease.
So how do we beat those strong cravings that keep us coming back for more of the sweet stuff?
There are a few factors that cause us to crave sugar including high stress levels, low levels of serotonin (the feel good hormone), low energy or lack of sleep and hormonal changes. Plus we all know that feeling that sugar can give us – increased alertness, mood and energy – that is so needed at the 3 o’clock slump! However, when we eat more sugar than our body needs, it gets converted into fats called triglycerides, most of which remains in the liver and accumulates around the waist. Sugar causes the hormone insulin to increase and the more insulin that is produced the higher our risk of type 2 diabetes. New research has shown that sugar also causes cancerous cells to grow and metastasise as cancer cells feed primarily on glucose.
Sugar can also affect the health of the largest organ in the body, our skin. Major issues include:
Occurs when glucose enters the bloodstream and travels to the skin tissue, it attaches itself to collagen fibres, making the collagen hard and inflexible. This results in loss of suppleness and elasticity and speeds up the ageing process, allowing lines and wrinkles to manifest themselves quickly.
Inflammation – when blood sugar levels rise, this may result in inflammation of our organs, the skin included. As an immune response, the body reacts with skin rashes or cysts in the form of eczema, dermatitis or psoriasis. Other reactions can be hypersensitivity (which results in redness), poor digestion and poor elimination.
Due to the inflammatory response our body cannot eliminate toxins through the normal metabolism. Many of these toxins then build up in the cells and are eventually discarded as excretions through the skin, appearing as pimples, cysts, pustules and rashes.
Often coined “sweet poison”, sugar truly is something we can do without!
So here are some top tips to help you break your sugar addiction:
Stress is a huge factor in increased sugar cravings so finding ways to manage it is important. Try 10 minutes of meditation or deep breathing, go for a walk with a friend, take a hot bath, drink herbal tea, and don’t forget exercise.
Add protein and healthy fats to your diet
Lean meat, fish, pulses, nuts, avocadoes are all great sources.
Consume foods high in magnesium, chromium and zinc
These nutrients help to improve your cells’ sensitivity to insulin to maximise the amount of sugar your body is able to metabolise and burn. A deficiency in these nutrients may lead to sugar cravings. Foods such as green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole grains, broccoli and bran are all nutrient dense.
Swap sugary junk food for naturally sweetened alternatives
Instead of store-bought sugary food, make your own banana-sweetened muffins, colourful fruit salad, or homemade ice cream by blending frozen bananas with a splash of milk.
Out of sight, out of mind! Don’t buy it in the first place and you are not going to be tempted.
Get quality sleep
Lack of sleep causes all sorts of problems and affects the hormones that control our appetite. So ensure you are getting enough shut-eye.
Don’t skip meals
Going for long periods without food can cause your blood sugar levels to drop which in turn promotes hunger and most likely for carbs or sugary foods.
With so many downsides to sugar and the start of a brand new year, it might just be the perfect time to ditch it for good!
For all your Anti-Ageing, Rejuvenating Skincare solutions, visit a Salon Near You.