Not So Sweet: How Sugar Affects Your Body After Age 40
Are you struggling with keeping up with all the changes going on in your body after turning 40?
Falling estrogen levels cause a lot of changes in our bodies. Starting in our 30's we begin to lose muscle and bone density. It naturally happens if we are not working out and one thing to be wary of during this time is the effect on our sugar levels especially if you are predisposed to diabetes type 2.
But why is this? After all, what do the changes in our body have to do with sugar? Quite a lot actually. Our insulin levels are regulated by hormones, estrogen and progesterone both play a role in our body’s ability to process sugars. As our levels of estrogen drop so do our body’s ability to regulate insulin levels.
What this means is we need to be more careful about the amount of sugar we are consuming. Now I know you want to close this window out and go run to your chocolate stash, but keep reading.
Sugar is a hard one I know. The reason is that there is such a strong emotional connection to it. We have a bad day and we run to sugar why? Because sugar has a very strong effect on our minds and bodies. In our brains, we have sensors that release dopamine. Cocaine or other strong drugs can cause this release, along with sex, and then...yep you guessed it, sugar. It stimulates the release of dopamine. So it’s not just your imagination telling you the chocolate bar you’re eating is making you feel better, it actually is.
That’s why it can be so difficult to give up chocolate. It has that strong pull that is more than just a craving, it’s an emotional draw because we associate the feeling that we get with anything sweet.
Because of this, it can be very difficult to break your sugar eating habits, but here are some helpful tips for you.
First off don’t feel like you have to just throw out everything with sugar in it all at once. We develop our eating habits over years of habits, and we can’t expect to just break all those habits at once. For starters. Pick one thing that you can give up. Maybe it’s the piece of candy you have after dinner every night, or maybe it’s the sugary drink you have with your lunch.
Focus on only that one thing for the first month. Then once you’ve mastered it, pick something else to give up that second month. Just think after a year you will have given up twelve unhealthy items! But we don’t just want to give things up without making healthy substitutions.
Fruit can’t be overemphasized as a huge help in kicking your sugar habit. Now you may ask, well fruit has tons of sugar too right? It does, but there are two major differences. First, it is natural sugar not processed or refined, that makes a big difference. Second fruit is loaded with fiber. Why does that matter? Well let’s break down how our body handles sugar.
When we consume a large amount of sugar it hits our system and goes right into our bloodstream then gets shuttled off to the liver where the liver processes it. But the amount of sugar that is in a candy bar, a can of soda, or even a glass of fruit juice is too much sugar for our livers to handle at once. So our liver throws its hands up and shouts “I’m done!”. When it hits this point, it has to store that sugar somewhere, so it puts it in fat stores.
That’s right, that soda, candy bar, or donuts are, in fact, going straight to fat.
So how does fruit differ? Fruit is loaded with fiber so our body digests it very slowly. Because of this, our body doesn’t get a dump of sugar all at once that overloads us. Instead, it’s slowly processed over time, allowing your liver to process the sugar in a slow manner. So don’t feel bad about grabbing any kind of fruit for a pick me up snack. Keep a bowl full of various favorite fruits at home, and take some at work so that you have some on hand. When you feel that sugar craving coming on, grab a piece of fruit and eat it. That should be enough to curb that craving.
Another big game changer is to drink more water. The more water you drink the better your body will be able to function. In addition, you are also more alert and focused so that you aren’t distracted with the vending machine. Get a bottle, one that you like, I mean really like, because you are going to carry it around everywhere with you. Aim to drink a minimum of 64 ounces per day.
Now how many of you love a good get-together. Who doesn’t right? But without fail there are always sweets and desserts that none of us really need at a get-together. Try these on for starters to avoid grabbing a plate of sweets that you will regret the next day.
- Eat a healthy snack beforehand. It’s okay to snack before you eat in this case. Try a bowl of Greek yogurt with some walnuts or pecans chopped up in it along with some berries or other fresh fruit. The protein will help keep you full, and the fruit will give you a bit of that sugar you crave.
- Grab a water bottle as soon as you get to the get-together and sip on it the whole time, this will help curb any crazy cravings you have and keep them at bay.
- Pick one. It’s okay to indulge a little, so scan the table for all your favorites and then choose just one that you just “have to have.” And then go for it and enjoy it. A little indulgence is okay, just don’t take it overboard.
- Bring a fruit platter. Often we have to bring something to a party right? Not only do those fruit platters look very eye pleasing with their colorful assortment, but it will give you the option to snack on something you don’t have to feel guilty for eating.
Remember, go slow, and start with small steps that you build upon and before you know it your sugar addiction will be kept to a minimum.
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