Just reading the word can cause a reaction. Even though the headlines continually tell us that sugar is bad for us, we keep eating the sweet stuff—consuming an average of 140 pounds per person per year—18 percent of the average American diet. To give you a clearer picture, many people eat their weight in sugar each year!
While we may agree in theory that sugar isn’t healthy for us, it can still be hard to turn down that cookie or piece of pie. Then there are the less obvious sugar sources in foods like ketchup, canned soups, yogurt, and fruit juice.
Sugar is the single worst ingredient in today’s diet. Diseases are plentiful at the end of the sugar road according to numerous studies, and that includes being at a greater risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. Excess sugar affects our metabolism, which leads to insulin resistance, belly fat, dense LDL cholesterol, and high triglycerides. Because sugar doesn’t get registered by the brain in quite the same way as other calories, we have a tendency to eat more. The more sugar we eat, the worse everything gets. When we begin to realize the detrimental outcomes that sugar can do to the body, it’s easy to understand why we are in trouble as a nation—and why it’s so important that we change.
Willpower Doesn’t Cut It
While the simple answer would seem to be “just stop eating sugar,” we all know that is easier said than done. I’ve often commented that telling some people to stop eating sugar is like casually asking a junkie to stop taking heroin. That’s not how it works. First, you treat the addiction, then the sugar cravings will go away. In my book The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction, I identify the four basic types of sugar addiction. This brief overview will give you a good indication as to where you fall when it comes to your battle with the sweet monster.
Type 1: Exhausted and hooked on “loan shark” energy drinks full of sugar and caffeine.
You’re tired much of the time and caffeine is your first thought in the morning. Coffee or some type of caffeine drink is your jumpstart way to survive. You rely on caffeine and sweets to get through the day. You crave them in fact. Weight gain or losing weight has become a problem.
The solution: Be honest about what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising and sleeping. Eating with good nutrition in mind, not robbing yourself of sleep, and making time for exercise can go a long way in improving your energy naturally so that you won’t need sugar and caffeine for an energy boost. In addition, be sure to get a good high-potency multivitamin.
Type 2: Feed me now or else.
“Hangry” is a new word that describes irritation with hunger. If you get recurrent “feed me now or else” feelings, that points to a Type 2 sugar addict. Another clue? Do you enjoy the rush of energy you feel when in a crisis, and is life always in a crisis from your view point? If you can relate, you’re probably Type 2.
The solution: You are experiencing adrenal exhaustion. Simply telling yourself not to eat sugar while your blood sugar is crashing isn’t reasonable. Adrenal exhaustion causes sudden, severe drops in blood sugar, so eating sweets or foods high in refined sugars makes you feel better—temporarily. However, sugar highs are followed by sugar lows, causing you to crave more sweets and caffeine. Getting to a state of adrenal balance will change your situation and get sugar cravings under control. Your recovery starts by choosing an adrenal-supportive diet, which includes eliminating sugar and caffeine, and eating more protein and salt. Next, add in a good adrenal extract supplement. Choose a supplement that also replenishes the nutrients lost by stress, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, L-tyrosine, and pantothenic acid. Combining these nutrients along with the healthy stress-response hormone DHEA will provide the synergistic combination you need to get off the adrenal exhaustion roller coaster. By eliminating the mood swings, people also often find that they no longer need marriage counseling or a divorce lawyer!
Type 3: The happy Twinkie hunter
Chronic nasal congestion or sinusitis; gas, bloating, diarrhea, and/or constipation; heavy use of antibiotics; fungal infections; and food allergies—these are all clues that you are a Type 3 sugar addict.
The solution: The basis of your issue is candida overgrowth, which is also called yeast overgrowth. One of the most common causes of excess yeast is frequent antibiotic use. The problem happens because antibiotics designed to kill the bad bacteria also kill the good bacteria at the same time. This gives the bad bacteria a window to take over. Sugar is food for yeast, so a good probiotic along with a change in diet is needed. Look for a probiotic that provides a unique combination of live, active cultures with a long history of human use.
Type 4: Depressed and craving carbs- you reach for sugar wanting to feel better.
For women: Do you feel worse around your menstrual cycle? Are you struggling with increased sugar cravings, fatigue, insomnia around your period, and decreased vaginal lubrication? Anxiety and depression associated with perimenopause can find you reaching for the sugar bowl.
For men: Are you experiencing depression, decreased libido, decreased erectile function, high blood pressure, weight gain, diabetes, or high cholesterol? These can all be due to being a Type 4 sugar addict.
The solution: You are most likely experiencing an estrogen or testosterone deficiency. Bioidentical hormones can be very helpful. Work with a natural health practitioner to discover what will work best for you.
Supplement Solutions for Sugar Addiction
Simply put, sugar consumption promotes chronic inflammation and inflammation leads to a wide array of diseases. One proven way to deal with inflammation is with curcumin, the key compound found in turmeric. This powerhouse is a potent antioxidant and an inflammation fighter that neutralizes free radicals and stops them from causing cellular damage. According to one study, curcumin can even play a role in helping to prevent the initial development of diabetes. The study showed that 16.4 percent of those receiving a placebo ended up with type 2 diabetes while none of the participants taking curcumin showed any signs of the disease by the end of the study. Choose your curcumin supplement wisely, because curcumin can be hard for the body to absorb and use. Look for a clinically studied, highly absorbable curcumin supplement that is combined with turmeric essential oil containing turmerones.
Another great way to reduce the pain and inflammation that can accompany too much sugar is by taking a supplement that contains boswellia and curcumin. Choose a clinically studied boswellia that is standardized to contain up to 10 times the amount of the active compound AKBA than unstandardized boswellia, and a supplement that also has DLPA and nattokinase. Whether you take boswellia as a stand-alone supplement or in synergistic combination with the right type of curcumin, you will find them helpful in the fight against sugar addiction.
Sugar and Diabetes
An article on sugar addiction simply wouldn’t be complete without bringing up the role it’s playing in pushing so many people into type 2 diabetes. Along with dietary changes and less sugar consumption, pre-diabetics and those with type 2 diabetes can also turn to an herb that comes from the bark of a small tree that grows in Mexico and parts of Central and South America. It’s called Hintonia latiflora. The bark contains micronutrients that help keep blood sugar levels low without episodes of hypoglycemia or other side effects. Backed by over 60 years of German research, seek out a supplement that also includes vitamins and minerals that act as cofactors for proper blood sugar levels. Using this combination can be a valuable tool for type 2 diabetes and for managing sugar addiction.
I’ve only been able to hit on a sampling of how deep the problem of sugar addiction has become, and I hope you now understand that simply going “cold turkey” or using willpower alone to beat sugar addiction is not the answer. The good news is—there are sound solutions that can change your life when it comes to your battle with sugar. More good news? After you do this, you will be able to enjoy sugar in moderation. For example, did you know that chocolate is a health food?
If you want more in-depth information, my book The Complete Guide to Beating Sugar Addiction lays out a systematic approach on how to beat this addiction. It is possible for you to end your sugar cravings forever, lose weight, and dramatically improve your energy levels and overall health. Sweet success can be yours!
Dr. T’s Tips on Keeping it Real!
- Pleasure is good! The key is enjoying a small amount of sugar as opposed to using it to feed cravings.
- Go for quality, not quantity. Have one bite of a dessert and savor it, or eat high-quality dark chocolate in small amounts.
- Stevia can be an excellent sugar substitute for those who like the taste. Brands matter. Use one that is filtered.
- Avoid foods that list sugar as one of the first three ingredients, and that can include: sugar, sucrose, glucose, fructose, corn sugar, or corn syrup.