If this sounds like you, a sugar problem is most likely to blame. Weight gain isn’t the only symptom you experience when your cookie consumption is higher than the Empire State Building. Sugar affects all systems in your body, including your thyroid, pancreas, adrenals, digestive and immune system.
Sure, you need some sugar. After all, the body needs glucose for energy. However, the amount of sugar that Americans consume today has reached epic proportions (100 pounds per year according to research by the U.S.D.A.).
Why is this amount of sugar consumption such a huge problem? Because sugar is detrimental to your health.
Here is how.
Minerals are necessary components in metabolizing sugar. When you consume sugar, your body calls on minerals such as potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, chromium and all the B vitamins to process it.
When we over consume sugar, we end up with mineral depletion, causing other functions in the body that need minerals (and there are many) to not work as efficiently.
Osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, low blood pressure, and hormonal imbalance are just a few of the conditions connected to mineral deficiencies (Nancy Appleton, “Suicide by Sugar”).
Now that your body is in a state of dyshomeostatis, or imbalance, due to mineral depletion, what happens next? Well, your enzyme production is diminished.
Your body needs minerals to produce adequate amounts of enzymes, and it needs enzymes to break down the components of the food you eat (carbohydrates, proteins, and fats). When the body can’t break down these components properly, your digestive system suffers.
Aside from the unappealing symptoms of digestive disturbances, such as bloating, gas, constipation, etc., the immune system is also negatively affected.
Well, not having enough enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, leads to conditions such as “leaky gut”, where undigested food particles leak out of the gut into the bloodstream. The body doesn’t recognize these and the immune system starts attacking them as if they are foreign particles.
Compromised immune system
The immune system attacking its own organs and tissues is the definition of an autoimmune disease. Examples are Hashimoto’s disease (immune system attacking the thyroid), multiple sclerosis, celiac, and fibromyalgia.
Sugar consumption is partially responsible for immune suppression and autoimmune diseases. In order for the immune system to get rid of unwelcome bacteria in the body, it mobilizes white blood cells to engulf it and get rid of it. When sugar consumption is high, the ability of these white blood cells to do their job is severely diminished.
Messing with the endocrine system
As if all that wasn’t enough, there are more ways in which sugar wreaks havoc on your body. The endocrine system (a system of hormone-producing glands) is key in sugar regulation.
When you consume sugar, the pancreas releases insulin to keep your blood sugar in balance. Over consumption causes the pancreas to overwork and either release too much insulin (leading to low blood sugar/hypoglycemia) or too little insulin (leading to high blood sugar/hyperglycemia or diabetes).
But the endocrine disruption doesn’t stop there. Other organs within the endocrine system are also affected, since the function of each one is tied to another. This causes production of certain hormones to go haywire and results in disorders such as adrenal fatigue, infertility, diabetes, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, and thyroid disorders.
And it is added to almost everything such as bread, sauce, yogurt, and soups, so even if you aren’t consistently eating desserts loaded with sugar, you are still consuming far more than you realize. Now that you are aware of it, do more research and start changing your eating habits so that you can take control of your health today.
Magdalena Wszelaki is a nutrition coach focused on working with women with thyroid and autoimmune conditions. She will be running a live online program Sugar Rebound to help you redefine your relationship with sugar and regain your weight, mood and sex appeal.