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Your Healthy Family: The benefits and challenges of reducing or cutting sugar in your diet

Posted at 4:42 PM, Jan 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 08:47:03-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — In this edition of Your Healthy Family, we're focusing on something that seems to be everywhere, sugar.

If you’re at a point where you are re-evaluating your health or fitness New Year's resolutions, perhaps you need to focus on just one thing - like cutting down on, or cutting out completely, processed sugar from your diet.

Dr. Kurt Perkins, DC, CCWP, CFMP is a functional medicine doctor in Colorado Springs who says, “When you look at a nutritional standpoint we have nutritional facts. We have essential fats, we have essential proteins, or amino acids but there is no such thing as an essential carb. Our body can produce that carb or produce that sugar, because yeah the brain requires it, other things in your body require us to have it.”

But it’s not as simple as cutting out sugary drinks, candy bars, cookies and things like that. Dr. Kurt says it's important to know that carbohydrates - like potatoes, grains, pasta and rice are essentially interchangeable terms with sugar when it comes to how your body processes them.

“Anything carbohydrate (you eat) is going to raise your blood sugar level. Now this is where we can have individual responses as to how much. But, yes simply put carbs convert to sugar, whether you're going to use that or store it is the next equation in your metabolic story."

"The carbohydrate is the macro nutrient, and it breaks down to glucose, which is more of the micro nutrient. If we eat something high carb our bodies say, ‘Hey, that's instant fuel. I can go use it.’ But unless you're in the middle of exercise or running from a bear or something like that, the body is going to say, ‘Let me store it somewhere.’ Most of the time we're sitting on our butt behind a computer getting fired up about something right? So your body will say, ‘I'm not using (that fuel right now) let me store it somewhere.’"

"The first place we actually store it is the liver. That’s why we are seeing a plethora of fatty liver disease starting to build and build. Often when people get their metabolic panels you'll see the ALT (alanine aminotransferase test) and SLT (alanine transaminase, is an enzyme found mostly in the liver) start to skyrocket. Usually in my practice I get the comment from my clients that their doctor said, ‘Oh you have fatty liver’ and just left it."

"Fatty liver is kind of a big deal in my world (functional medicine) because the storing a days worth fuel (for your body) and then you’re going to become resistant. That's where the whole insulin resistance comes into play. Then your muscles are like, ‘Great I'll take about a days worth of fuel, but we're shutting it down after that. let me go store this in the least resistant part of the body.’ That's the area between the armpits and thighs, and that’s why it’s in the midsection where most people gain weight.”

So if you wanted to cut way down on your sugar, or completely cut processed sugar from your diet Dr. Kurt says that would bring numerous health benefits. He also warns those benefits wouldn't be the first thing you would notice. “There would be some hangryness, and cravings and those types of things. Because (sugar/carbs) hits those dopamine receptors in the brain and that's our reward center and source of our motivation. So, as you start getting rid of those higher sugar levels be prepared to probably be a little moody and things like that.”

But Dr. Kurt adds, if you can get through the sugar withdrawals the benefits are numerous. “The benefits can be from the hormone aspect. When we eat high levels of sugar and that type of thing, insulin gets released and we store it. At some point the body will say I'm sick of too much insulin and I'm going to become resistant. When you parlay insulin resistance we’re not just talking about reducing diabetes or obesity, but now they're talking about Alzheimer's as a type three diabetes thing. Also, the plaques in your arteries are signals from insulin to build those up, so we are also talking cardiac disease, cancer hormone specific tumors, all of those things have insulin resistance components. Looking at the long-term cutting sugar and decreasing sugar is huge for chronic illness.”

If you have questions or want more information about what a functional medicine approach to your health is, Dr. Kurt says, feel free to reach out to his staff at Dr. Kurt’s Place (https://www.drkurtsplace.com/) anytime.

Dr. Kurt’s Place is a proud sponsor of Your Healthy Family