COLORADO SPRINGS — In this Your Healthy Family, we’re following up on a story we did in January about cutting down on or cutting refined sugar out of your diet from a functional medicine standpoint.
In this story we’re hearing from a nutrition and weight loss expert on the same topic. Cutting down on, or eliminating refined sugar from your diet might sound impossible - and while it's admittedly difficult, Dr. Kristen Kells, D.C., B.S.c. who owns Dr. Kells' Weight Loss in Colorado Springs says consider the benefits.
“If you reduce your sugar intake ninety percent you would feel like a different human being. I see it every single day in my practice. People say, ‘Wow, where did my aches and pains go, where did my joint inflammation or my brain fog go? How come I have energy to get through the day and I don’t feel like I'm tanking at three in the afternoon?’ You would feel like a completely different person if you were not consuming those high levels of sugar.”
Dr. Kells’ and her team help people find success when it comes to losing weight and feeling better - where they have often failed in the past, or have gone through hormone changes as people age - and at the same time it's often more difficult to be as active as when we are younger.
Dr. Kells says what makes giving up, or reducing our sugar intake, so hard is its addictive nature. “Sugar is highly addictive, and it creates a cycle.”
It’s a cycle of ups and downs driven by dopamine and serotonin. When you consume any substance of abuse, including sugar, the nucleus accumbens receive a dopamine signal, from which you experience pleasure. Pleasure is exciting. Happiness is transcendent. More importantly, pleasure is dopamine. And happiness is serotonin.
Dr. Kells further explains, "Sugar boosts dopamine, that’s our sense of reward and then that happy feeling we get because our gut has more serotonin receptors than our brain. When you feed your gut sugar, it boosts serotonin and now the problem is it spikes. It feeds your blood sugar and you feel good and you spike, and then you tank.”
So if the benefits of cutting your sugar intake sounds like something you want in your life, make a plan, because as soon as you make the change, the effects you feel will be instant and they won’t be all the benefits we’ve talked about. Dr. Kells says, “It's instant, you're miserable and cranky and in detox for three days, and you may feel like you're starving, but after that it gets better.”
Sugar can come in so many forms so at the beginning focus on reducing the simple sugars like table sugar and the things it's added to, which is a lot. Dr. Kells says, “The average American eats seventeen teaspoons of simple sugar a day, it's outrageous. We are set up to fail in the United States where everything is bagged or boxed and it’s hard to find things without a ton of processed sugar or starches. High sugar intake causes inflammation and inflammation in the arteries, so it causes vascular disease. It creates an inflammatory response and the research says it suppresses the immune system remarkably. High sugar intake causes an increase in depression and it leads to obesity which then increases colorectal cancer and different kinds of cancer. High sugar intake affects libido and prematurely ages us, it has a myriad of effects.”
As you focus on refined sugars, Dr. Kells also says keep in mind your portions when it comes to the other foods that convert to sugar. “White rice, potatoes, crackers, is basically sugar. Basically all white things get broken down quickly into our bloodstream and converted to glucose or sugar, so the impact on the bloodstream is what we're looking at.”
Of the many things that you might not think of as sugar as you consume it is alcohol, says Dr. Kells. “Alcohol absolutely converts to sugar. There are lower glycemic alcohol's that you can have but it’s all basically a sugar. Anything that is a simple carbohydrate reacts pretty much like sugar in your body and it sets us up for short term and long term type two diabetes. Type two diabetes is simply that your pancreas gets tired of pumping out insulin all the time and it gets more and more tired and says, ‘I can't do this anymore,’ and it stops regulating blood sugar and then we walk into pre-diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or type two diabetes ”
So as difficult as cutting way down on, or cutting processed sugar out of your diet may seem - let's circle back and focus on the big picture and the benefits.
Dr. Kells says, “If you reduce your sugar intake by 90% you would feel like a different human being. I see it every single day in my practice. People say, ‘Wow, where did my aches and pains go, where did my joint inflammation or my brain fog go? How come I have energy to get through the day and I don’t feel like I'm tanking at three in the afternoon?’ You would feel like a completely different person if you were not consuming those high levels of sugar.”
If you have questions about reducing the benefits of reducing processed sugar in your diet, feel free to contact Dr. Kells’ staff at Dr. Kells' Weight Loss.
Dr. Kells’ Weight Loss is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family