Gut Health and Refined Sugars – How to Break The Addiction
Sugar addiction is a common affliction in the United States. According to the USDA, Americans consume 150-170 lbs of refined sugars per year, which equates to ¼ to ½ pound of sugar per day, aka 30-60 teaspoons per day. As a frame of reference, you can find approximately ¼ pound of sugar in 4 servings of soda.
Refined sugar is one of the biggest antagonists for your gut. Studies in mice by the National Institute of Health have shown that too much sugar can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut. This can then cause a variety of gastrointestinal problems as well as mood fluctuations. If the harmful bacteria start to outnumber the healthy bacteria, this can detrimentally affect the immune system. Refined sugars have also shown to slow down the transit of food in the gut, leading to bloating and constipation.
Because sugar is so highly addictive, it is a very difficult but necessary habit to break. A sugar addiction, because of its negative effects on the microbiome, can also exacerbate mental illness symptoms since there is a strong relationship between gut health and mental health.
Tips To Break A Sugar Addiction:
Often breaking this habit takes time and support. Below are a few tips to get started.
- Avoid fat-free products. These products are often flavored with more refined sugars to make up for the richness that fat adds.
- Eat more dark-leafy greens. Dark leafy greens like kale, bok choy, broccoli, collards, chard, and dandelion greens have natural sugars. These natural sugars can help our bodies with cravings.
- Improve sleep habits. A 2013 study found that sugar cravings are exacerbated by poor circadian rhythms. Fasting at night by sleeping helps control sugar cravings.
- Choose sweet foods low on the glycemic index that taste sweet, but are slow to increase blood glucose levels like berries, pears, and boiled sweet potatoes (baking sweet potatoes raises their GI measure).
- Drink raw organic apple cider vinegar (ACV) before meals or when a sugar craving hits. Research shows that doing this can help reduce blood sugar levels, which can help control the craving. Plus, it also aids in digestion.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. These actually make your body continue to crave that sweet taste. Plus, artificial sweeteners are also quite unhealthy for your microbiome.
Stay tuned for part two next month - many more details on artificial sweeteners related to gut health!
If you are struggling with sugar addiction, you are not alone. It’s a tough habit to break but you can do it, especially with support. Reach out with any questions or to learn about Tri-Wellness’ customized approach to break the sugar habit once and for all.
My passion is to help you live your healthiest and most harmonious life, but in a way that’s realistic and practical for you as a unique individual on this planet. My philosophy is all about “balance,” never a diet since a diet is not sustainable for life, aka Kill The Diet.