Wed, Aug

Spring Cleaning … Your Body, That Is

WELLNESS--We are well into spring which is a great time to do a gentle cleanse by eliminating sugar from the diet for 14 days. When we eat sugar there are certain bacteria, often referred to as mycotoxins, that thrive on and feed off of sugar.

When we take a break from sugar, part of the reason it is so difficult for the first week or so is because the bacteria that was feeding off the sugar is dying off. This die-off period can be difficult and symptoms may include food cravings, headaches, irritability, lightheadedness and depression. The first 3 to 5 days tend to be the most difficult, and then symptoms tend to start to subside. The cravings themselves may be the longest standing symptom taking from a few weeks to a few months to fully disappear. 

There are a few tricks that may help you get through that beginning phase. Be sure to have lots of wholesome, healthy, and satisfying foods to replace the sugar. Studies show that protein and fat deficiency can both contribute to sugar cravings. Before you embark, make a list of as many healthy foods and snacks that you love and be sure to fill your house up with vegetables, lean meats or poultry if you eat those, and lots of purified water. Ensuring that we don’t get hungry or low blood sugar is an important component to giving up the white stuff.   

Good fat is also very helpful both for the sugar detox and for our health in general. When we consume enough fat, there is a compound that causes a signal in our brain telling us we are full. If the diet is too light in fat, we run the risk of the brain thinking we are still hungry or worse, starving. This can cause the sugar cravings can kick in more intensely as the body is dealing with sugar detoxification cravings and hunger together. It is important when we are doing a sugar detox to have a specific and healthy food plan. This usually requires a little more planning and more time in the kitchen. 

Another motivator to say goodbye to the sweet tooth is that fact that water binds to sugar, and too much sugar equals too much water and weight gain. One upside those first few days of cutting the sugar is all the extra water weight that goes. This is a normal process, but it’s one we don’t want to put our body through all the time. Yoyo’ing from sugar to sugar free back and forth repeatedly can be tough on our organs and difficult emotionally and mentally. Each time someone repeats that cycle, it becomes more difficult than the previous time. 

Many people think that if they only eat natural sugar they are acting healthfully, and while there is some truth to that, the cascade of bodily effects happens regardless of what type of sugar we eat. It is healthier to eat local honey compared to high fructose corn syrup in a can of soda, but the reality is when we eat sugar no matter what kind there is a spike in the blood sugar which commands the body to release insulin causing the cells to take up the sugar and store it as fat. Worse than that is the effects of sugar on the organs and the very real potential of the sugar aiding in the growth of cancer and the onset of dementia.     

A 14 day sugar cleanse may be just what the doctor ordered. If you have people living with you, be sure to try to get them on board with the cleanse or at the very least ask them to support you during the 14 days. If your housemates are still bringing in sugary snacks and drinks while you are going through the detox process, it may make it very difficult to succeed in your goals.   

Be sure to keep healthy snacks on hand in case you do end up feeling light headed while out and about, and always have your meals planned out at least 1 day in advance. Letting yourself get very hungry while you are detoxing off of sugar is not a good idea as hunger will increase your chances of binging on sugar. Usually when the 14 days are over you will feel less inclined to go back to your sugary ways.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA, TV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR)