sugar's the problem
Friday, August 24, 2007
Sorry for the long article here, but it does refer to our diet:
"Ditching dependency could eliminate mood swings and many other ailments"
If your teeth were rotten, you wouldn't be surprised if sugar were the culprit. But you'd probably be shocked to learn that sugar dependency also may be responsible for your moodiness, depression, anxiety, low libido and ravenous hunger between meals.
Connie Bennett transformed from an easygoing Dr. Jekyll to a monstrous Ms. Hyde whenever she overindulged in candy, cakes, sodas, ice cream, spaghetti, chips and white rice. But Bennett also silently suffered from 44 medical problems, such as anxiety, headaches, depression, mood swings, insomnia, waking up exhausted, terrible PMS, sensitivity to light and noise, and forgetfulness.
For years, she went from one doctor to another trying to diagnose the problem. Finally, an integrative physician told her to kick her sugar habit and all her problems would disappear. She took his advice, and her improved health led her to write the book "Sugar Shock! How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life -- And How You Can Get Back on Track" (Berkley, $14.95).
"Every single one of my symptoms was listed in books on hypoglycemia," says Bennett, a former newspaper reporter who spent five years with a team of researchers studying the effects of sugar on the body. "You don't have to be hypoglycemic to be hooked on sugar.
"I had all these frightening ailments, but millions of Americans suffer similar fates at the hands of sweets, of sugar, or much-like-sugar carbs. It could erode their energy levels and sap their sex drive. ... For other people, the effects of their sugar habits might not emerge for years until they have diabetes, cancer or heart disease. Even three teaspoons of refined sugar can throw your body out of balance."
Here are five ways sugar could affect your health:
Sugar may be keeping you up at night.
Dr. Fred Pescatore, former associate medical director for the atkins Center, says sugar affects insulin levels, and insulin levels affect cortisol levels. When cortisol levels increase, it can make it difficult to fall asleep or stay asleep.
"If you're one of the people who wake up at 2 or 3 in the morning, try decreasing the amount of sugar you eat and you'll stay asleep," says Pescatore, author of the "The Hamptons Diet: Lose Weight Quickly and Safely With the Doctor's Meal Plans" (John Wiley & Sons, $14.95). "If you can get sugar and carbs out of your life, so many things you are feeling will get better."
Eliminate sugar for a week or two, then eat sugar again to decide if it's affecting your health.
Low libido, infertility and menopause
Eating too many sweets and simple carbohydrates forces your body to produce excessive insulin. In the female body, this spells trouble for reproductive health. In her book, Bennett says large amounts of insulin overwhelm a woman's ovaries and can make her stop producing progesterone, the hormone required to prepare the uterus for pregnancy and throws off the hormonal balance.
Besides contributing to a number of serious female problems -- including infertility, miscarriage, birth defects, polycystic ovary syndrome and even fibromyalgia -- a high-sugar diet also could be connected to chronic fatigue and recurring yeast infections, according to a number of experts, including reproductive endocrinologist and gynecologist Dr. Deborah Metzger, medical director of Harmony Women's Health in Los Altos, Calif.
Eating too many sweets makes women feel worse right before their menstrual cycles.
Dr. Judith Wurtman spent nearly 30 years researching the relationship between carb cravings and mood swings. Wurtman, author of "The Serotonin Power Diet: Use Your Brain's Natural Chemistry to Cut Cravings Curb Emotional Overeating, and Lose Weight" (Rodale Books, $24.95), says she believes serotonin levels are low in women who have chocolate cravings or a sweet tooth when they have PMS.
Women who feel depressed before their periods, Wurtman suggests, may be overeating sweets and other carbs.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says 85 percent of women who menstruate report one or more PMS symptoms. Managing your sugar intake could be one of the most powerful and effective ways to curtail PMS-related symptoms.
Ravenous hunger and obesity
Everybody knows eating cakes, cookies and pies will make you obese. Right? But fewer people know that eating white bread, pizza, instant oatmeal and other simple carbohydrates are the culprit. You may not be downing desserts, but you may be packing on pounds believing you're avoiding sugar, says Dr. David Ludwig, author of "Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food, Fake Food World" (Houghton Mifflin, $26).
"It's probably not sugar itself, and it's probably not all sugars. Many starchy foods, white bread, white rice can be digested into sugar literally within a few moments after being consumed."
It's different from eating an apple, which contains sugar but includes high amounts of fiber Use a glycemic index to find out what foods are literally making you fat. It's a way to learn how blood sugar changes after eating. Refined starches and concentrated sugars raise blood sugar quickly, stimulating a sequence of events in the body that can lead to overeating.
Moodiness and anxiety
Sugar dependency also causes people to feel extremely anxious. They feel euphoric shortly after consuming sugar then angry or sad an hour or two later. People who are hypoglycemic also experience this when their blood sugar increases and then suddenly plummets, Pescatore says.
"It's that feeling you get, especially in the middle of the day when you want to go home, but you can't really go home from work yet," he says. "People reach for caffeine and sugar at this time of day. It's because your blood sugar levels are plummeting."
Knock sugar out
To limit sugar or kick it completely out of your diet, start by eating some of these foods:
• Rainbow-colored vegetables
• Low-sugar fruits, such as raspberries, oranges, strawberries, apples, blueberries
• High-quality protein sources, such as fish, chicken, lean cuts of meat and soy
• Nuts, seeds and legumes.
• Judiciously use olive oil, flaxseed oil and macadamia nut oil
• Modest amounts of grain, such as quinoa, brown rice and amaranth
• Plenty of water, at least 64 ounces a day, or weigh yourself, divide your body weight in half and drink that many ounces of water daily
Avoid these foods:
• Don't consume cookies, most crackers, candies, breads, pasta, alcohol and fruit juices.
• For the first three weeks, avoid: vegetables such as corn, potatoes, beets, dates, raisins, bananas, grapes, watermelon and dried mango. Also avoid dairy products, whole-grain products, especially with wheat or gluten. Later, add cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries and blackberries in small portions.
• Totally eliminate artificially sweetened drinks, foods and products, even if they contain no calories or sugar content. These products can trigger sugar cravings and overeating, and are linked to weight gain, not weight loss.
What's my name?
Sugar may be hiding in your foods. If you see these names for sugar on your food labels, avoid or curtail them:
• High-fructose corn syrup
• Brown sugar
• Crystalline fructose
• Maple syrup
• Corn syrup
• Invert sugar
• Fruit juice concentrates
• Raw sugar
• Turbinado sugar
• Sugar alcohols or polyols
• Rice syrup
• High-maltose corn syrup
• Barley-malt syrup
• Powdered sugar
• Cane juice
• Inulin syrup
• Chicory syrup
• Tapioca syrup
Craig - 203 by August 31 (BMI 30.9) - 191 by October 31 (BMI 29.1)
"I'm a light eater. When it gets light, I start eating."