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  • Writer's pictureHanni Berger CEO JOYVIAL

Everything you need to know about sugar


I know, we all love our sweets (me included...did anybody say chocolate? :) Having said that, I feel I have the obligation to share with you everything I know about sugar so you can make a conscious decision about consuming the food that negatively impacts every cell of our body.

Question for you, do you think your body needs sugar to survive? The correct answer is no. Unlike other key nutrients we need to survive (protein, fat and fiber) sugar is not one of them. 10s of thousands of years ago cave men were happy to find wild blueberries, which was (and still is) Mother Nature’s best candy. But we often think we need sugar and crave sugar because of the way sugar is processed in our bodies.

“Sugar is a drug. Sugar sets off the same biological mechanisms that are triggered by cocaine and other drugs,” says Dr. Frank Lipman, author of “10 Reasons You Feel Old and Get Fat.” “Drugs and sugar hijack the brain. You get physically addicted to it. You crave it, and when you stop eating sugar, you have withdrawal effects.”

Top 5 Ways Sugar Impacts Your Body

1. Inflammation is at the core of all chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and yes, cancer. Sugar is one of the biggest offenders in contributing to inflammation. A study of 29 healthy people found that consuming only 40 grams of added sugar from just one 375-ml can of soda per day led to an increase in inflammatory markers, insulin resistance and LDL cholesterol. These individuals tended to gain more weight too.

2. If you have been diagnosed with thyroid diseases and PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) know that both are greatly impacted by sugar.

3. Risk of depression increases. Researchers discovered that a diet rich in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and fish, can lower your risk for depression in middle age. According to their study, people who ate processed foods like sweetened desserts, fried foods, and processed meats were more likely to be diagnosed with depression than people who largely relied on unprocessed, whole foods.

4. And if you need another reason it is also believed that sugary foods play a key role in how fast your skin ages.

5. And if that wasn’t enough processed sugar also impacts your energy level, causes insomnia, ADD/ADHD, dental issues, and impaired memory.

Fundamental Understanding of Sugar

Different kinds of sugar

Sugar, in all forms, is a simple carbohydrate the body converts into glucose and uses for energy. But the effect on the body and your overall health depends on the type of sugar you eat, either natural or refined. Natural sugars are found in fruit as fructose and in dairy products, such as milk and cheese, as lactose.

Refined sugar comes from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. Processed white and brown sugars are found in cakes and cookies, and cereal. Food manufacturers also add chemically produced sugar, typically high-fructose corn syrup, to foods and beverages, including crackers, flavored yogurt, tomato sauce and salad dressing. Low-fat foods are the worst offenders, as manufacturers use sugar to add flavor.

Most of the processed foods we eat add calories with little nutritional value. This is why we can eat a ton of sugar and never feel full or satisfied. In contrast, fruit and unsweetened milk have vitamins and minerals. Milk also has protein and fruit has fiber, both of which keep you feeling full longer.

How Do We Metabolize Sugar?

How the body metabolizes the sugar in fruit and milk differs from how it metabolizes refined sugars added to processed foods. The body breaks down refined sugar (found in cookies, cakes, and many snacks) rapidly, causing insulin and blood sugar levels to skyrocket. Because refined sugar is digested quickly, you don’t feel full after you are done eating. On the other hand, the fiber in fruit slows down metabolism as it expands the gut to make you feel full.


But there is an important caveat. Once the sugar passes through the stomach and reaches the small intestine, it doesn’t matter if it came from an apple or a soft drink.

How much sugar is already in your blood will determine how the body uses the sugar. If you already have a lot of sugar in your system, then what you just digested will form either fat or glycogen, the storage form of glucose that’s used for quick energy. It doesn’t matter if it’s junk food or fruit.

How to reduce your intake of added sugars:

1. Read food labels – 4 grams of sugar = 1 regular size sugar cube…so one cookie with 18g of sugar = 4 ½ sugar cubes.

2. Reduce or eliminate sugary drinks. It is estimated that about 42% of added sugar intake is solely from soft drink consumption. Swap sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.

3. Opt for fresh fruit in place of refined sugars. At a minimum you have the added bonus of the fruit’s fiber, and antioxidants.

4. Drink your coffee black or if need be use pure stevia extract (vs. other stevia options that are highly processed.)

5. Buy plain yogurt and sweeten with fresh fruits instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.

6. Avoid sugar-sweetened fruit smoothies at the store – most often they are filled with artificial fruit juices - you can do much better in your own kitchen.

7. Keep a good trail mix handy filled with dried berries (blue berries, goji berries, mulberries,) nuts, seeds (pumpkin and sunflower) and a few dark chocolate nibs to stave off cravings.

8. Use olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.

9. Look for food replacement bars with under 10 grams of sugar per bar.

10. Going to a restaurant, review the menu before you go (and aren't hungry) to make a food choice you'll be happy with even after the meal is done.

Our team of executive health coaches understands the impact foods have on your body, mood and overall health. May we help you identify foods that support your health and wellbeing? If so, click the 'Contact' button in the top right corner or simply send us an email to to schedule your free discovery session.

Remember, at JOYVIAL, we are committed to helping you live your healthiest, most JOYful life. For all the latest health and wellness tips and to get inspired, following along with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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