IMAGE CREDIT: DONNA TROPE
Author of The Sugar Detox, Brooke Alpert says sugar is addictive and is seriously harming our skin, weight, sleep and health.
WelleCo (W): What inspired your interest in sugar initially?
Brooke Alpert (BA): I realised that sugar was the key player in how my patients felt. I saw many of my clients struggling with sugar addictions and how it impacted every aspect of their lives – weight, sleep, skin – really everything.
W: Is sugar really addictive?
BA: I absolutely think sugar is addictive. In fact, its hold on us is so strong that cravings and withdrawal symptoms from sugar are equal to and if not worse than major hard-core drugs, like cocaine. Sugar addiction also has many different levels, some people are very dependent on it and others just have a sweet tooth.
W: How do we know if we are addicted?
BA: I like to challenge my clients to see if they can go without sugar after a meal. That's a great way to see how dependent you are on sugar. Withdrawing from sugar can be tough too, with feelings of fatigue, headache, fogginess, irritability, and dizziness, which can make eliminating sugar from your diet so difficult.
W: How does a diet high in sugar manifest itself?
BA: People don't realise that seemingly healthy foods are loaded with sugar, so we're basically eating sugar all day long, from morning until night.
W: How does sugar affect our skin and the ageing process?
BA: Sugar causes us to age prematurely. Sugar attaches to protein molecules, mainly collagen and elastin. These protein molecules are mainly responsible for keeping our skin youthful and supple, but when sugar attaches to them it begins a process called glycation. When glycation occurs, it produces what are aptly known as AGEs, or advanced glycation end products. These AGEs cause the collagen and elastin molecules to become brittle and stiff, and that leads to more fine lines in our skin, more sagging and drooping making us look old.
W: What are some of the amazing health transformations you have seen from patients giving up sugar?
BA: By eliminating sugar from their diets, clients have been able to lose weight quickly. Many have noticed that a lot of the weight was lost from their midsection. They also report brighter eyes, clearer skin and fewer dark circles. Plus they have more energy and fewer mood swings.
W: Is fruit an issue when it comes to sugar intake?
BA: People can easily overeat fruit. I always recommend apples and berries as fruit of choice because they are lower in sugar, higher in fiber and loaded with antioxidants and you can’t beat that! Try to stick to 2 servings a day maximum.
W: What hidden sugars are in unusual everyday foods?
BA: Bread, salad dressing and marinades, tomato sauce, cereals, and alcohol - all things you wouldn’t normally expect sugar to be in since they’re not necessarily sweet. I always recommend reading the ingredient label of anything you buy in a package.
W: What sugar alternatives do you recommend?
BA: I do not recommend using sugar substitutes or sugar alternatives. These little pretty coloured packets pack a punch of sweetness, and that's how our palates get dulled and immune and less reactive to what sweetness really is. Consuming artificial sweeteners causes you not only to store more fat, but you also end up overeating later on to compensate for the increased energy storage. If you're eating a dessert, then accept that you'll eat some sugar, but the rest of your day doesn't need to be so sweet, so stick to plain and unsweetened options whenever possible.