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  • Writer's pictureDr. Kristen Mitteness

The most important change you can make to your diet

When we think of changing our diet we think it has to be some big, grandiose, very difficult to do thing. I'm not saying what I'm going to suggest is not hard, it will take some practice and you will not do it perfectly, but it is, in my opinion, the one thing that will improve your quality of life.

Ladies and gentlemen, drum roll, please.....

Eliminate or reduce your sugar intake

Now, here's the deal. It's going to be next to impossible to completely eliminate your sugar intake. It's in nearly everything that comes in a package. Over 60% of foods in a grocery store have added sugar and over 80% of the foods most people eat have added sugar. That's bananas! And on top of that, sugar has been found to be more addictive than many drugs. Especially when it's even further engineered as a processed food. That's food manufacturer's job. To make food shelf stable and addicting. So you keep eating it. So they can make more money. It has nothing to do with your health and everything to do with money. No one is making big bucks by selling you carrots and grass fed ground beef.

So, what if you just became more aware of the food you eat? Start looking for added sugar. Start eating more real, whole foods. Start making more food at home. Start realizing that when you eat sugar, you are becoming less healthy and more sick. Everything you eat is a choice. And it's one you will make at least 3 times a day for the rest of your life.

Here are a few ways sugar affects your health:

It creates a hyper insulin response. When you eat your pancreas releases insulin to help turn glucose into energy. When you no longer need to use glucose, it put the glucose into your muscles, fat cells and liver to be stored for later. With all of the sugar (and food) we eat and the sedentary lifestyle we live, our pancreas ends up working overtime and eventually we become insensitive to insulin. This leads to metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.

It causes inflammation. When our insulin response is out of control, which happens when we eat sugar, we end up with inflammation. If you don't already know, inflammation is a breeding ground for all disease. Most disease are a manifestation of long standing inflammation like arthritis, headaches, IBS, cancer, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, asthma, thyroiditis and dermatitis, just to name a few. These disease don't just happen over night. They have been working their way for years in the presence of inflammation. If you feel pain and you didn't just get hit by something, you have inflammation. Something is wrong. And your diet could, and most often is, to be blamed.

It decreases your immune system. We come into contact with viruses and bacteria all of the time. If our system is being inundated with sugar, it has better things to worry about than fighting these bugs. You will end up sick more frequently than you should. Decrease your sugar intake and you will also decrease your chances of coming down with the latest bug.

It promotes aging. When there is too much sugar in your blood steam and it can't be immediately used as glucose, it starts attaching to proteins. This results in what are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The more AGEs you have floating around in your system, the more elastin and collagen (which your skin is made up of) are destroyed, resulting in weaker skin, hair and nails. You will start to look (and feel) much more aged.

I don't care what you've been told, at no point in time do you need processed sugar. Get your carbohydrates from veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and even legumes. For a better life, kick the sugar habit.

And if you want more information on how we were SO WRONG about the fat vs sugar debate, read Gary Taubes's latest, The Case Against Sugar.

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