1. Cut out sugar from your life.
Isn’t it funny how something so sweet can be your own worst enemy? Common sweeteners like table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are one-half fructose and another half glucose. Even honey, which you thought was a healthier alternative (gasp!), is chock-full of fructose.
While simple sugars are important to keep you going – every single living being on Earth has simple sugars in their system – too much of these is detrimental.
There has yet to be a definitive reason explaining why sugar is bad for you, but several observational studies show a connection between having abdominal obesity and high blood sugar.
One of the most convincing theories revolve around insulin. When you eat a handful of chocolate chip cookies or a slice of sugar pie, you’re telling your brain to send signals to the pancreas and hike up your insulin levels.
Like other hormones, insulin has its uses. One of its main functions is to carry the glucose floating around in your bloodstream after a meal and take them to the different body parts. Specifically, insulin takes the glucose to the muscles, the liver, and the brain, where it is stored as glycogen.
All well and good, yes? But the thing is the human body can only store so much glycogen. When your muscles and liver are stuffed, they start ignoring insulin and stop taking in the excess glucose.
With the glucose having nowhere to go and your pancreas going into overdrive secreting more insulin, you become insulin-resistant. Eventually, the liver steps in and sends all that sugar to your fat cells.
As if that isn’t enough, fructose makes the situation worse. Remember, table sugar is one-half fructose. Unlike glucose, fructose completely bypasses the digestive system and makes a beeline for the liver, the only organ that can process it in huge amounts. But if the liver has too much fructose to work on, it sends all the excess sugar to the fat cells.
In prehistoric times, this process is actually helpful. Our ancestors were programmed to store the excess sugar they ingested by eating fruits in season, so they could turn to their fat stores for warmth and energy during the harsher winter months.
But there’s no such thing as a seasonal sugar feast these days. You can eat all the cookies and pies all year round.
To top it all off, insulin resistance inhibits the release of leptin, your “satiety hormone”. Leptin signals the brain that you’re full and tells you to stop eating. Put high insulin and low leptin together and you have a disaster recipe for extra padding around the waist.
Additional note on fructose: Although fruits are a natural source of fructose, they are not harmful to your health. Unlike added sugars, fruits are rich in nutrients which prevent them from producing the same negative effects as added table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup. In some cases, fruits can even offset the effect of synthetic sugars.
For example, this study shows that eating wheat bread with berries actually blunts the insulin spike of eating just wheat bread alone. Researchers believe the high amounts of fiber and antioxidants found in berries can have a neutralizing effect on insulin spikes.
And as far as weight loss is concerned, eating fruits in moderation is a more successful strategy than banning all fruits from your diet altogether.