IT’S no secret that sugar has a bad name when it comes to nutritional health and well-being.
But giving up the ingredient stored in almost any food can be a daunting task for a sweet tooth.
Type 2 diabetes is on the rise in Ireland, with around 1,000 new people being diagnosed with the condition each month, according to 2018 figures.
Irish-based nutritionist Leisa Maloney Cockanye says people are determined to crave sugar, but it may be possible to drop the sweetness.
And the food expert claims that a sugar cleansing will improve our sleep and mood and reduce the risk of cancer and stroke.
WHY IS SUGAR SO BAD?
According to Leisa, one of the main reasons why sugar is so bad is because it creates visceral fat in the body, which throws the whole system out of stagnation.
She said: “When we eat too much sugar, the body goes ‘okay, I’ll have to deal with that later.’ And it ends up going around our organs and around the liver, and it can end up being viscerally fat.
“Visceral fat is probably the worst type of fat. It is really unhealthy, it also develops its own hormone which leads to a whole disruption of hormones in our body.
“When we eat too much sugar, it can lead to mood swings, it can lead to poor sleep, it can in some cases lead to anxiety, and those are all the fluctuations of hormones it triggers.”
And sugar sends the human body on a “blood sugar slide” – which is not as exciting as it sounds.
The nutritionist explained: “When we have eaten too much sugar, our pancreas tries to release insulin into the bloodstream to supply more glucose into the cells.
“This keeps happening, leading to another drop in blood sugar, so then we need something to recharge our energy to catch up with our fall.”
WHY IS IT SO HARD TO GIVE UP?
If sugar is so awful, why do we have such a hard time staying away from it. The answer is simple according to Leisa – we are attached from birth to demand it.
Plus the human brain lacks an off-switch that tells us when our sugar cravings are met.
She said: “We are designed to want to consume sugar and it’s just part of our make-up that takes us back to when we were breastfed. We are designed to like the sweet taste to get us to hold on and take more milk. “
Leisa added: “We do not have the corresponding hormone that tells us we have eaten enough.
“When we normally eat food, our brain sends out the right kind of signals, which then trigger us to want to eat to satiate ourselves. As soon as we are full, we know we have eaten enough.
“But because we do not have a similar hormone to tell us that we have eaten enough sugar, it does not happen.”
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A SUGAR CLEANING?
Just a few days of withdrawal from sugar will bring an abundance of benefits to body and mind according to Leisa.
The best nutritionist said: “It really affects the elasticity and collagen of the skin, so within two days you can see the brightness and your skin just feels more firm.
“On day three, you really notice your improved sleep, and around day three or four, you really notice the brain fog. You do not notice those sugar drops where you crash in the middle of the workday, so that brain dog lifts completely. You begin to feel a stabilization of your mood.”
And in the long run, the benefits continue with “reduced risk of cancer, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, reduced risk of stroke and also coronary heart disease.”
TOP TIPS FOR BEATING SUGAR?
Leisa’s best tip for starting your sugar cleansing is simple, do not buy it.
She said: “If you’re really serious about cutting down, the first thing to do is not to buy it. It’s actually being cruel to be kind to yourself. If it’s not there, you can not eat it. ”
She continued: “Learn to read the labels. If it is highest on the ingredient list, it will be the highest amount in the food. And sometimes they will now change the name to what are 70 names for sugar now.”
Leisa added: “Another thing that people are not aware of is when things say low fat, it is often full of sugar. Especially things like low fat yogurt.”
The nutritionist also said he should stay away from spices like ketchup and barbeque sauce as they are often filled with sugar and sweeteners.
Leisa’s book, 7-Day Sugar Cleanse: Beat Your Addiction with tasty, easy-to-make recipes that nourish and help you resist cravings, is on sale now.