A dare to cut out sugar for 10 days

A dare to cut out sugar for 10 days

During a Sunday service, a preacher asked the congregation if anyone needed prayer. The responses varied from grieving relatives to job searches. Those suffering from illnesses were mentioned, and traveling mercies were requested. The list was long, but before he began to pray, a small voice was heard from the back of the church.

A woman cleared her throat for attention and bowed her head. She said she was on day four of a sugar fast and needed prayer to continue for the next six days. Heads nodded in affirmation.

She was on a dietary experiment known as the 10-day sugar detox challenge. The 2015-20 U.S. Dietary Guidelines suggest excessive sugar intake has been recognized as a detriment to good health. The lady in the back pew was asking for divine intervention.

Humans crave sugar, especially when served with fat, because sugar and fat consumed together can trigger the release of feel-good hormones. This combination stimulates the same areas of the brain that also are activated by addictive substances.

A constant and consistent intake of sugar is linked to an increase of belly fat, weight gain, weakness, fatigue, skin changes and hormone changes. It also is an inflammatory agent, which affects arthritis and increases the risk for heart disease. Sugar can add fuel to cancer cells and impairs the function of white blood cells fighting infection.

Sugar is listed on a Nutrition Food Label, but it is often in disguise. Other names include honey, agave, organic cane sugar, turbinado, coconut sugar, molasses, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, sorghum and maltodextrin, to name a few.

Currently, the average American consumes more than 100 grams of added sugar daily. Some surveys say at least 3 pounds per week. The new dietary guidelines recommend no more than 50 grams or less than 1 pound weekly. The challenge is to ingest no more than 25 grams a day of added sugar for 10 days, the less sugar the better.

Sugars that occur naturally in fruit, vegetables, dairy and starchy foods do not count. It is the added sugar from cakes, cookies, pies, pastries, candy, sugary drinks and processed foods that increases health risks.

Abstaining from all added sugar is a challenge. Artificial sweeteners are acceptable, if necessary.

Every person’s body responds differently. Usually, during a 10-day sugar-free challenge, people may feel less belly bloating, lose weight, have increased energy, have clearer skin and have less of a craving for sugary foods. These are the positive effects.

Some researchers found kicking added sugar is more difficult than dealing with a cocaine addiction. Some of the negative symptoms could include headaches, mood swings, lethargy, erratic sleep and bowel changes. These adverse outcomes usually pass after the first few days.

The preacher prayed for those folks facing challenges in their lives. To that one dear woman in the back pew, she was counting on amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Amen.

Bobbie Randall is a certified diabetes care and education specialist and registered, licensed dietitian. Email her at bobbierandallrd@gmail.com.