According to Statistics Canada, the average Canadian consumes approximately 88 pounds of sugar per year and 147 pounds of grains (which eventually become sugar in the body) per year, making up more than 40% of our daily energy intake.
It’s estimated that on Halloween alone, kids consume 3 cups of sugar on average, translating to double the energy requirement for their entire day.
Research shows sugar reduces white blood cell activity, preventing your immune cells from engulfing pathogens. Sugar also causes low-grade inflammation, taking up the body’s resources to mount an immune response.
Your mood and energy goes hand in hand. When sugar is consumed without fibre and healthy fats, our blood sugar rises too quick, resulting in symptoms such as anxiety in adults and hyperactivity in children, followed by a sharp dip, causing depression-like symptoms such as lack of motivation and focus.
Excessive sugar makes the body more acidic. Your body breaks down bones and uses the calcium to neutralize the acidity to maintain the life-sustaining pH between 7.35-7.45. Researchers have established a the link between sugar intake and calcium loss from urine.
If you are still with me after reading this far, I want to say my goal is to provide some helpful tips to help you mitigate the effects of sugar on your body, for yourself or your little ones. My mission is to help people on their health journey one step at a time while enjoying the treats that they totally deserve. As a recovered sugar-colic, candies bring back bittersweet memories, reminding me where I was (clinically obese) and where I’m heading (helping people everywhere unlock their optimal health).
These days, I treat candies and baked goods like substances. Dark chocolate, candied ginger, and Smart Sweets gummy bears are my jam! Besides portion control, the following wellness strategies will protect your body from the occasional indulgence and keep you on track.
Vitamin C is a natural anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidant. Unfortunately, sugar is similar to vitamin C in structure, competing with vitamin C for absorption. I suggest Finlandia’s Excell C because the formula allows vitamin C to enter cells via multiple pathways. If you are considering giving this product to your little ones (children >1 year old), you need less than 1/16 tsp (250mg)!
A multi-mineral creates an alkaline buffer to protect the bones from the acidifying effect of sugar. Minerals such as chromium, magnesium, zinc and selenium also help us metabolize sugar effectively. I recommend getting minerals from greens. Gracious Greens (from our Herb Bar) is one of my favourite greens powder. It combines the power of several delicious, mineral-packed greens: alfafa, barley grass, cholrella, moringa, nettle, spirulina and wheat grass. This is a great booster for your morning smoothies.
Sugar puts excessive stress on our body’s innate antioxidant response. To protect our cells from the damaging free radicals created by sugar, we need to gear up our cells with a broad spectrum of antioxidants and phytonutrients. One of my favourite multivitamin is Metagenics PhytoMulti. It’s packed with food-based antioxidants and minerals.
Mandarine oranges and sweet bell peppers can be dressed up as little pumpkins. If you want to get creative with the treats you hand out this year, I suggest mixing up 1/4 tsp of food grade charcoal powder with a few drops of filtered water, and you can use this ‘ink’ to paint faces on these vitamin C packed fruits and veggies! Isn’t this a fun way to get into the Halloween spirit?
Tahlia Sage (Bsc. Food, Nutrition & Health, Certified Nutritional Practitioner) is the founder of Sweet & Savoury Health, instructor, and wellness educator.
Her coaching practice helps clients achieve their wellness goals by embracing functional foods and healthy lifestyle changes. Tahlia’s own health challenges and weight issue prompted her to pursue an education in nutritional science and holistic nutrition. Tahlia empowers her clients to regain balance with easy, concrete steps.
Lawoyin, Segun, et al. “Bone mineral content in patients with calcium urolithiasis.” Metabolism 28.12 (1979): 1250-1254.
Lee, Seung-Hwan, et al. “Insulin in the nervous system and the mind: Functions in metabolism, memory, and mood.” Molecular metabolism 5.8 (2016): 589-601.
Myles, Ian A. “Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity.” Nutrition journal 13.1 (2014): 61.