We're all about detoxing for spring over these next few weeks, both physically and emotionally, in our houses and our diets. With that in mind, embodying a fresher mindset and starting to make the switch from earthy, warming foods, to a lighter, more cleansing palette. This is a great time of year to eliminate stimulants such as coffee and tobacco as we find ourselves being naturally boosted by the budding blossoms, change of light and overall sense of renewal.
It's the perfect time to start a new exercise regime, beginning with moderate daily exercise that helps us eliminate toxins through sweat, stimulates our serotonin and revitalizes our circulatory systems, giving us that feel good factor.
If you didn't quite stick to those healthy eating intentions that you set back in January, or you did, but cutting out gluten, grains or dairy aren't quite helping you reach your desired health goals, why not use this time of year to confront that other nemesis: sugar. Over consumption of processed sugar has been associated with everything from cancer to depression and a whole myriad of chronic health conditions in between, but the one question people get hung up on when talking about sugar is what exactly is the bad kind? Isn't eating fruit just as toxic as all that refined sugar in your Oreo cookie? Which one is low GI? Is cane sugar as unhealthy as white table sugar? Does organic make a difference?
Here's the science:
Sugar is composed of fructose and glucose. The ratio of these is the same in fruit and in table sugar. The difference between the two lies in how your body processes them. While fructose breaks down in your liver and doesn't provoke an insulin response, glucose breaks down in your stomach and needs insulin to be released into the bloodstream in order to be metabolized. Consider the difference between the added benefits you get from a piece of fruit – fibre, antioxidants, water, vitamins – and a piece of cake or candy which are generally void of nutrients. The importance of fibre in the digestion of sugar should not be underestimated when it comes to the metabolization of glucose. Fibre slows down your body's digestion of this sugar, meaning you don't get the spike you would with a food product that was low in fibre. This slowing down also means that your body has more time to use it up as fuel, before it stores it as fat.
So what are the alternatives and how do you overcome the obstacles involved in quitting sugar that lurks in the most unlikely of places?
First, you need to understand that consuming sugar makes you want more sugar. To avoid that afternoon cycle of sugar cravings, eat a clean, protein-packed midday meal. Refined sugars "can leave you depleted and craving more sweets" according to Harvard Medical School. If you start aiming to cut out processed and sneakily sweetened meals, you'll begin to gain a more sustained type energy instead of all those spikes and crashes that circle around one another.
Learn to read labels: if you can't pronounce it, don't consume it. Know that sugar is labelled in up to 40 different ways – educate yourself on what these are. Caramel, corn syrup, cane juice, dextrose, malt syrup, and sucrose are just a few.
If you are going to make the switch to fruit and natural sugars, consider the amounts and types you are eating. Too much fruit can overload your liver with fructose, which turns into triglycerides, which in turn forms a thick band around your waist. Try to choose fruit which is on the low end of the glycemic scale – berries are ideal for this. Dried fruit is full of fibre and nutrients, but again, be careful to consume only one or two dates or apricots, or a small handful of raisins. Imagine these fully hydrated and think about how many grapes you should realistically eat at one time.
Raw honey, pure maple syrup and bananas are some other examples of alternative ingredients to white sugar. Coconut sugar is also gaining huge popularity in the wellness sphere.
Another pitfall for many is to choose products labelled "fat free," "lite" or sugar free. Fat free is generally code for "sugar packed," and sugar-free generally means it's stacked with artificial sweeteners that can almost do more harm than the real stuff.
Of course, going sugar free shouldn't be an overnight cold-turkey endeavor. Start to make switches where you can, cutting out small amounts here and there, educating yourself on labelling and making healthier choices where possible. Maintain a healthy mindset of moderation. A little bit of sugar here and there shouldn't cause complete havoc on your insides – try to cultivate a healthier attitude and consider the importance of living a holistic lifestyle.
Follow us @elevatewellnesscenter on Instagram for more advice, tips and recipes that'll set you on your way to a healthy spring detox.
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