Sneha Ghosh

Dietician, Apollo Life

7 min read

Sugar is addictive! According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, sugar effects the brain in the same way drugs like cocaine do! Additionally, it says that when sugar is cut out from the diet, it not only causes cravings but also causes withdrawal symptoms on the lines of what drug addicts experience while going cold turkey. This is so, because our brain’s circuits and rewards system that regulate eating behavior are the same ones that act in response to abusive drugs.

When sugar is consumed there is a spike in UR blood sugar levels. Insulin is then released and UR blood sugar levels drop. Again, you crave for sugar and this cycle continues. We crave for food when the blood sugar in our body drops, this as an emergency state. During such times, we turn to sugary foods because it’s the quickest way to fix the ‘crisis’. We eat sugar and then crave more, similar to a drug addicts desire for drugs.

Sugar is a Drug

Food designers create foods that hook our brain in the same way as addictive drugs. This is because the nucleus accumbens (also known as our brain’s pleasure centre) is the same part of the brain that is activated by drugs like cocaine, nicotine, heroine etc. Dopamine (the brain’s pleasure chemical) is released in this part of the brain and all drugs elicit a powerful surge of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens.

The good news is that sugar cravings won’t last forever and will subside in a short time. Once sugar is eliminated from UR diet, many positive changes will be experienced by UR body. Hormones will be regulated; UR hunger and satiety signals will be normalized; you will appreciate the taste of real foods (foods that are not processed); vegetables will taste more flavorful and fruits will taste sweeter!

You will feel less depressed and less anxious as excess sugar affects the functioning of neurotransmitters that help keep our mood stable. Eating sugar is also linked to hyperactivity and ADHD. Sugar consumption causes higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL. It also increases triglycerides and feeds cancer cells. Sugar affects learning and memory too. It triggers increased slow brain waves which makes us less alert and less focused.

Food designers create foods that hook our brain in the same way as addictive drugs!

Sugar is a Drug

Research has shown that sugar is truly damaging to our bodies and our minds. For example, a recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the journal ‘Obesity’ found that cutting down on sugar for 10 days showed improvements in blood pressure, cholesterol levels and other critical benchmarks in obese children. This study proves that sugar not only causes weight gain (which leads to other health issues) but even on its own, sugar causes harm to the body.

WHO recommends an average daily consumption of less than 10 % of the total daily intake to be in the form of free sugars. Nutritionists claim that only if the sugar consumptions is less than 5% it is beneficial to health. This means six teaspoons for females and nine teaspoons for men. For that matter, one can of cola a day, nearly exhausts the free sugar consumption of an average male and exceeds that of an average female. A 330ml can of cola contains eight and a half teaspoons of sugar. This does not mean that all sugar is bad. Every cell of our body has a powerhouse called mitochondria which needs sugar for its sustenance.

Sugar can be of various forms and those most relevant to humans are glucose, fructose, galactose and ribose. All naturally available sugar such as fructose from fruits and vegetables or maltose from milk, are not known to be harmful, if consumed in moderation. It is the added free sugar, which is processed that is harmful in any form, be it fructose or sucrose or dextrose. Whether you eat white sugar, demerara sugar, turbinado or muscovite sugar, all are equally harmful. Sugar is consumed in all processed food forms ranging from biscuits, bread, salad dressings, soft drinks and even chips.

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The Sugar Detox Diet

The fastest way to lose fat and increase UR energy is to remove sugar from UR diet. Detoxification is a process of cleansing the body, which becomes more effective when sugar is completely removed from the diet. When UR blood sugar is out of balance, it causes depression, stores sugar as fat instead of using it for energy. This leads to highs and lows in energy levels and eventually leads to diabetes.

Some people may find it very difficult to eliminate sugar from their diet as they feel lethargic and weak when sugar intake is stopped. For this reason, it is important to exclude sugar from UR diet gradually. Detox is not a one day process. The process is slow and steady, but effective. It helps UR body to clean up all the stored toxins.

You can start UR detox process by firstly avoiding packed juices, sweetened beverages or adding extra sugar to UR coffee or tea. You need to understand the concept of removing artificial sugars found in packaged drinks, sweeteners, yogurt, flavoured milk and health drinks. You also have to try and stay away from chocolates and sweets.

Why A Sugar Detox?

Sugars are actually good for UR body but only when consumed in their natural form. Sugar detox is very effective for those who want to shed weight, delay diabetes, increase energy levels and also to obtain good skin! It’s not difficult to follow a sugar detox plan. This plan will help you to control and also get rid of UR sugar cravings!

General Guidelines
  • Sugar detoxification lasts 21 days and anyone who wishes to follow it, must do so for 21 days. Though it may seem like many days, this is a good time to re-think what U should eat. It will go a long way in learning how UR body and mind react to the lack of sugar on a daily basis.
  • Try to avoid doing this diet during festivals and special occasions. You may find it hard to resist the temptation of the goodies in front of you! Schedule it while you know you won’t be tempted to break. Also, do not be under any delusion that it will be easy. Do not get discouraged when it becomes a challenge.
  • It is important to realize that sugar detoxification is not a diet plan and cannot be used to eliminate fungus and yeast infections like candida from the body. It can certainly help a person to keep sugars at a healthy level so that these infections can be healed with zero side effects.
  • Remember, this detox is not a lifetime plan. It aids only in helping you to eat healthy to feel energetic and lead an active life. Reduced sugar cravings, high levels of energy and controlled sugar levels help you to start a new lifestyle.

Once you have finished detoxification, follow a diet plan that suits UR lifestyle. Refrain from going back to UR old eating habits. The sugar detox does not conform to any particular diet plan and only guides you in dealing with sugar levels. It’s advisable to keep a diet plan ready for you to follow immediately after the sugar detox.

3-Days Sugar Detox Plan

Days 1 to 3

Early Morning: a glass of lemon water or 30ml of aloe vera juice with a glass of water.

Day 1
Breakfast: spinach with 3 eggs
Midmorning Snack: 1 teaspoon flaxseeds, 5 almonds
Lunch: vegetables and grilled fish
Tea time: 1 cup herbal tea
Dinner: mixed vegetable soup

Day 2
Breakfast: green smoothie
Snack: macadamia nuts and 1 teaspoon pumpkin seeds
Lunch: shredded chicken and green salad
Tea time: chamomile tea
Dinner- Salmon with greens

Day 3
Breakfast: vegetable omelette
Snack: an apple and 5 almonds
Lunch: hummus, tofu salad
Tea time: herbal tea
Dinner: spinach, quinoa cooked in chicken broth