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Sugar management

High sugar levels in the blood can bring complications about.

Diabetes is no more than the inability of the body to convert glucose into energy or store it as fat then causing glucose in blood to reach too high levels.

Sugars are the fuel for the body. Our bodies store energy in the form of glucose, as simple sugar. We obtain glucose from food. Glucose levels in blood raise after a meal. insulin is released then to make the glucose not used for energy enter the cells to be stored until needed. The body burns glucose when it is active, but without insulin, sugar levels get too high and may cause increased thirst, tiredness, weight loss, or blurred vision, to name some of the problems.

Timing matters in eating healthy

Sugar, which is not processed immediately by the body as energy, is stored as fat for later use wiht the help of the hormone insulin. When you are trying to combine eating, being active and either weight loss or management, timing is everything. The way the body breaks down different types of food and when each of those substances are either used or stored, is an important aspect when it comes to managing weight.

When we consume food, our body converts carbohydrates into immediate blood sugar, also known as glucose, which is our main source of energy. Depending on our blood sugar level, we will feel energetic or extremely sluggish. Blood sugar levels also have an effect on how hungry we are and what we crave. Finally, blood sugar determines whether we burn fat or store it away for another time.

Insulin is a hormone, produced by our pancreas that moves blood sugar throughout our body where it is used as energy. When the body is overwhelmed with carbohydrate-rich foods, the pancreas produces insulin like crazy to tell the body to start cranking out the blood sugar for the body to use as energy and reducing the amount of blood sugar in the body. Insulin is actually meant to tell your body to use the energy to lower blood sugar.

Our body sees all of the signals that there is plenty of energy ready for use at the drop of a hat and backs off burning fat and starts to fill up the reserve stores. The biggest part to worry about is not the fact that our body stores fat, but when the blood sugar drops afterwards and forces us to crave more high-sugar foods that starts the cycle all over again while just trying to take in more sugar to balance the sudden dip.

Of course simple carbohydrates are the first to be converted to blood sugar by the body, but eventually everything ends up breaking down and getting stored as fat. The trick is to keep your blood sugar levels even instead of this roller coaster of blood sugar. Once your body gets used to having high blood sugar levels at all times, the insulin becomes non-existent to your body, leading to the onset of Type-2 diabetes.

Once your body no longer recognizes the insulin is there to help you reduce your blood sugar, you start storing everything as fat. When you are trying to lose weight or manage the weight you are currently at, having everything stored as fat completely defeats the purpose you are trying to accomplish. Eating the right foods at the right times during the day will help you maintain your insulin levels and keep you from bingeing on sweet treats.

A great way to figure out how your body is reacting to different foods, keep a journal of what you eat and how you are feeling shortly afterwards. Note when you feel the sugar "crash" during the day and also when you are craving certain foods. By keeping this journal and paying attention to what you are eating, you will be able to keep a better handle on your weight loss or management because you are tracking your blood sugar levels.

Sugarty boogarty boo

Name any holiday, off the top of your head, any at all. What is one thing that almost every holiday has in common? No, not family getting together or watching Uncle Ed fall asleep on the couch watching a football game, but think more on the childhood level. Candy. Yes, candy. That sugary, caramelized, marsh mellowed, chocolate-dipped goodness called candy.

The reason we are looking at a single holiday event is because, due to the excess of candy ingested, it is easier to see the effects that take place. Most candy is made up of two dangerous ingredients - hydrogenated fat (trans-fatty acids) and sugar. We saw the removal of trans fats from almost all restaurants because they were finding a direct link to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and even Alzheimer's disease. Studies have shown that trans fats don't allow for any safe level of intake.

What about that sugar? The common denominator with almost every jaw-breaking, teeth-rotting, incredibly tasty piece of candy out there that has it's spell on us, urging us to satisfy that one last sweet tooth addiction. Leaving the kids out of it, consider this fun fact; the typical adult consumes 15 to 20 teaspoons a day - we definitely have a lot to learn.

The low down on sugar

Sugar comes in many forms including white sugar (sucrose, aka table sugar), brown sugar, cane sugar, sugar in the raw, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, candies, pop, jams, ketchup, baked goods, juice, several packaged foods and many low-fat products for added taste. Refined flour, chips, pretzels, muffins, white rice and pasta also end up as sugar in our body. Although sugars are safest in their natural, unprocessed forms such as maple syrup, honey or sugar in the raw - all forms of sugar possess similar health risks.

Energy highs and lows

When we consume foods high in sugar, the glucose enters the bloodstream, quickly causing blood sugar to rise. Insulin is then secreted by the pancreas, which causes the sugars to enter the cells. This sugar is either used as immediate energy or stored as fat to be used by the body later. Once the sugar is used up for energy, the levels in the blood quickly fall back to normal or even below normal.

During the holidays this ebb and flow is quite evident in children. They get all wound up, running around like crazy, then crash out on the floor amidst their toys, where they are found lying asleep in a ball and chaos all around. This drop then triggers another craving for sugar to restore the balance that once was, causing the process to start all over again.

Compromised immunity

In the early 1970s, studies were done - and again in 1997 - that showed a suppression of white blood cells after sugar was consumed. White blood cells act as the body's first line of defense against a virus or bacterial infection. This leaves our immune system weakened and compromised, and to top it all off, this process increases exponentially with the regular consumption of sugar. Many doctors have noted that adults who snack on sweets at their desk are usually the ones admitted with the flu, shingles and other illnesses.

Sweets and aging

Glycation is a process where sugar molecules abnormally attach themselves to cells in the body. This imbalance of sugar causes the cells to begin to shrink, dehydrate and wrinkle. When this occurs, tissue elasticity reduces and causes sagging of the skin, stiffening of the arteries and organ function goes out the window. Sugar also has an effect on the brain, eyes and nervous system, and don't forget about what it does to your teeth.

To sum it up

Reducing your sugar intake is a great step to take if you want to avoid the highs and lows, keep your immunity up and prevent aging. Of course, cutting out sugar all together is the best way, but take it one step at a time and eventually you will get there. Make sure you consult your physician before making any drastic changes to your diet and keep an eye on your insulin levels at all times. The next time you go to grab for that delightful piece of chocolate-covered caramel, think about the kids you see during the holiday season - then opt for a more nutritious snack.