By Desmon Short

As a Chef, many clients seek my services for an effective detox plan. Undergoing a cleanse or detox program has become all the rage in recent years, but the key to truly reaping the benefits of any detoxification plan lies in a genuine understanding of the how and why. Remember, not all detox programs are created equal, and embarking on a cleanse or detox without the proper knowledge can do more harm than good. While there are tons of approaches and pre-designed programs that you can purchase online and follow when deciding which detoxification program is right for you, know that the first step to any good detox should absolutely begin with breaking the sugar addiction.

What are the dangers of sugar?

  1. Sugar is an Anti-Nutrient. The term “anti-nutrient” refers to a nutrient that offers no benefits to the body and takes away nutrients. In fact, we end up using more nutrients in the energy it takes to process and assimilate refined sugar in the diet than any benefit it might give us. Sugar contains no protein, no essential fatty acids, and certainly no vitamins, minerals, or phytonutrients.
  2. A Diet High in Fructose Harms the Liver. One of the primary reasons that a good cleanse should begin with sugar detox is sugar is high in fructose, which goes directly to the liver upon consumption. As opposed to glucose, which is found in nature and is a type of sugar that the body needs (to a certain extent), there is no physiological need for fructose. In a documentary titled “Sugar, the Bitter Truth,” Dr. Robert Lustig explains that fructose is only metabolized by the liver, which can cause severe problems if consumed in excess.
  3. Excess Sugar Consumption Can Lead to Insulin Resistance. Insulin is the hormone that escorts glucose (blood sugar) into our cells and sends our cells the message to burn glucose instead of fat. However, if you have chronically high blood glucose levels (which is actually toxic in and of itself), this can lead to severe complications like diabetes and metabolic syndrome.
  4. Sugar Suppresses the Immune System and Could Cause Cancer. Contrary to popular belief, a giant glass of orange juice when we are sick is not the best way to get better. In his widely known research conducted in the 1970’s Linus Pauling discovered that sugar and vitamin C have similar chemical structures, and the two (very different) compounds actually compete for space in our white blood cells. Meaning that the more sugar we eat, the lower our vitamin C content becomes. Vitamin C is a powerful immune-boosting and infection-preventing antioxidant and is put directly in harm’s way when being forced to compete with sugar. As noted above, sugar also has devastating effects on our metabolism, which can also lead to cancer cell proliferation.
  5. Sugar is the Leading Cause of Obesity. Plain and simple, sugar and refined carbohydrate consumption cause you to gain excessive weight. Sugar directly affects insulin and cortisol, two hormones that play a crucial role in fat storage. A study released by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition connects consumption of high-fructose corn syrup with America’s obesity epidemic.

How do you know if you need to do a sugar detox?

If you have any symptoms including, frequent sugar/carbohydrate cravings, regular headaches, low energy (dips and spikes), mood swings, excessive irritability, muscle pains (not exercise related), excessive thirst or increased hunger, you may need to do a sugar detox. In reality, even if you are one of the lucky ones who does not experience some or all of these symptoms, the truth is that everyone can benefit from a simple sugar detox.

How to Do a Simple 24 Hour Sugar Detox

Start with 24 hours, and if you feel good and motivated to keep going, please do! Most habits (dietary and other) can be both created and broken within approximately three weeks, so a three to four-week sugar detox is even better.

The goal of your sugar detox is to maintain stable blood sugar levels by breaking the vicious cycle of a high carbohydrate and sugar-based diet. Foods that consist mainly of carbs (and particularly when not accompanied by high-quality protein and fat), instantly work to spike our blood sugar levels, which energizes us for a short period and then causes a sudden energy dip. We then find ourselves craving more of the same foods and beverages to recover our crashing energy levels and thus repeats the cycle.

For 24 hours, minimize not only refined sugar but all foods that provide a sweet sensation. Although fruit contains natural sugar, during a sugar detox, it is best to avoid.

For 24 hours, completely avoid aspartame (Equal), saccharin (Sweet n Low), stevia that is white (Truvia), sucralose (Splenda), HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup), honey, maple syrup, molasses, agave syrup, date, palm, and coconut sugar, fruit juice, all fruit, all packaged/processed foods (if it has an ingredient list, avoid it), diet or sugar-free foods (highly processed), coffee, dairy, soda and alcohol. You should also avoid refined carbohydrates including bread, bagels, brownies, cakes, candy, cereal, chips, cookies, crackers, cupcakes, muffins, oats, pasta, spaghetti, pastries, pizza, popcorn, tortillas, and couscous. The vegetables you should avoid include potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, and corn.

Foods you should eat during your sugar detox:

  • All meat (opt for grass-fed, organic, pasture-raised whenever possible).
  • Wild caught fish.
  • All vegetables except those mentioned above.
  • Raw nuts and seeds and their kinds of butter including almonds, walnuts, pecans, sesame, hemp, and flax seeds.
  • Good fats, including avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, ghee, olive, sesame and flax oils.
  • Herbal teas.
  • Unsweetened almond and coconut milk

While any detox can undoubtedly be challenging, the beauty lies in the fact that the better we feel, the more we are motivated to create long-lasting diet and lifestyle changes. Breaking sugar addiction through a simple sugar detox is an excellent place to start, and might just lead you to a lifetime of healthier eating.

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