People are always asking me, Why is sugar so bad for you? What’s the big deal? Anyone who knows me knows that I have a sweet tooth—carrot cake my favorite! I love occasionally finishing dinner with dessert, and, agree with my mom-- it’s bad luck not to enjoy a piece of cake at weddings or birthdays.
As you may have guessed, I haven’t always had complete control over my sugar in-take. But lately I’m tired of letting sugar dictate my mood and energy levels. So for the past month I’ve been experimenting… life without sugar. It hasn’t been a cake-walk, (pun intended) but the challenge has been well worth it—clearer skin, more energy, a couple pounds.
Sugar has negative effects on our bodies physiologically , such as immune repression, inflammation, neurological problems, deterioration of oral hygiene and yeast growth, but today I'm going to focus on vitamin and mineral depletion caused by sugar.
The main problem with sugar lies in how it is processed and refined. How is sugar made? (bear with me)
White sugar is made by refining the sugar cane or sugar beet, which involves multiple chemicals processes that filter and boil the liquid extracted from the original plant. This produces gasses like sulphur dioxide and carbon dioxide that remove all of the plants original nutrients, enzymes, fiber, protein and minerals that are needed for proper digestion.
What happens when you eat foods devoid of nutrients?
As you may see from the refining process, all of the nutrients are removed from the original food source which means you are eating empty calories = food without nutrients. But that’s not all. Our bodies require B vitamins, calcium and other vitamins and minerals to digest sugar. This means that when you consume refined foods that are void of essential nutrients, the body must borrow vital nutrients from healthy cells to metabolize the refined sugar. We feel depleted after eating sweets because we are; our healthy cells lend their minerals and nutrients to breakdown those empty calories.
So Can I have Any Sugar? What is Too Much?
I would love to say everything in moderation but in the case of refined sugar, I recommend avoiding it or replacing it with stevia or natural sugar, such as raw honey (raw honey contains enzymes that slow the digestion of sugar). Because after you consume refined sugar, it increases the body’s normal rate of mineral loss (through sweat and urine) by 300% for 12 hours after sugar is consumed. This means that if you eat sugar on a routine basis, there is no way to replenish your body and get back to balance. Crazy right?
What happens When the Body is Depleted of Vitamins and Minerals?
Mineral depletion causes premature aging, such as wrinkles and gray hair, also affecting hormones. Hormone levels drop as we age and lack of essential minerals will cause them to drop even sooner, specifically affecting the adrenal hormones. Adrenals lacking minerals can cause insomnia, digestive disorders, weight gain, brain fog, and sexual imbalances.
Calcium stores are also called on to balance the effects of sugar. There are is now a direct link between sugar consumption and osteopenia, which is the precursor to osteoporosis.
We need calcium for strong bones, teeth, blood clotting, nerve conduction, muscle contraction, regulation of enzyme activity and cell membrane function. In order for calcium to store in our cells, the body is dependent on ample magnesium, vitamins D, A, and K. So taking a calcium supplement isn’t the solution—you need all of those good vitamins and minerals for your body to be in balance.
Magnesium also provides strength and structure to our bones, working with calcium and phosphorous. Dr. Natasha McBride states, in order to metabolize one molecule of sugar, the body requires 56 molecules of magnesium. She suggests that sugar is the main reason for widespread magnesium deficiency which leads to high blood pressure, neurological, immune and sleep problems.
Finally, Thiamine, which is a B vitamin, is depleted as it works to neutralize the effects of sugar. Thiamine is needed to produce energy and helps us stay composed and clear headed. It is also important for liver detox. Thiamine is found in veggies, seeds and legumes.
Here is the bottom line—when you eat refined sugar, it robs your cells of essential vitamins and minerals.