by Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

September 20, 2015


  • When I’m down and out, sugar is just the pick-me-up I need !
  • Sports/Energy drinks will provide my workouts with just the boost they need and hydrate my body as well
  • I can eat as much fruit as I want to because it’s natural sugars and therefore healthy
  • I can substitute artificial sweeteners to satisfy my sweet craving because they’re low in calories
  • Sugar alternatives like honey, cane sugar, molasses and coconut sugar are better because they’re unprocessed. 


  • Rest assured the ‘sugar high’ is temporary and short-lived. The surge of sugar in blood levels is rapidly removed by the pancreas and liver and the ‘crash’ leaves you fatigued, irritable and brain-fogged ; ‘psychoglycemia’ as I term it. Excessive sugar intake has also been linked to depression. Try eating something fatty instead like nuts. Your mood will uplift and stay buoyant for longer.
  • Your body is much more capable than you give it credit for. It does not need electrolyte infusion to maintain its fluid balance; just water to replenish that lost as sweat. As for the sugar in these drinks – they’re hindering your weight loss because it prevents your muscles from tapping into fat stores and generating energy to fuel your workout.
  • Yes fruits are healthy but don’t kid yourself! They’re packed full of sugars too hence the juicy syrupiness. To put into perspective medium-sized apple provides your body with its day’s requirements of sugar. Eat fruit in moderation to obtain your vital nutrients and antioxidants.
  • Swapping sugars for sweeteners is like swapping cigarettes for cigars. Yes you’ll skimp on the calorie count but sweeteners tend to be infinitely sweeter than sugar. Unlike sugar, they don’t signal ‘energy’ to the brain and the result is while your sweet tooth is temporarily satisfied, you will inadvertently develop cravings and pangs for sugary, high-calorie foods soon after. Cue binging! Not to mention there is much evidence to link artificial sweeteners to bowel disturbances like diarrhea and central nervous system diseases like multiple sclerosis.
  • Don’t fool yourself - it’s still sugar! Sugar comes in three basic molecular forms – glucose, fructose and galactose. These molecules differ in ratios in various food items but they are all sugar. 


  • There is no denying that we require sugar to function. When the sugar levels in our blood dips, our body taps into fat and protein stores, converts it into glucose and releases it into the blood to ensure brain and organ function isn’t compromised. A balanced diet of unprocessed foods i.e. meats, vegetables, fruits and grains is sufficient for our sugar requirements
  • For athletes and marathon runners sugar is the quickest provider of the instant burst of energy they require to fuel their highly active muscles. 


  • Excessive sugar brings many sorrows to human health. The most commonly known ones are obesity, insulin resistance, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart disease and tooth decay
  • Lesser known are other evils like dependence and addiction similar to that of illicit drugs like cocaine, depression, insomnia, non-alcoholic liver cirrhosis, bowel disturbances, irritable bowel syndrome, loss of appetite control, sexual hormonal disturbances which in turn cause decreased libido and infertility, kidney disease, joint and muscle damage and enhanced ageing of the skin and body. 

My Take

Mary Poppins had us believe that it took a spoonful of the sugar to make the medicine go down but evidence today is contrary. It is precisely this substance, which has resulted in many across the globe having to seek medicine. The American Heart Association states that the average person today consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar daily, which is more than 3 times the required recommended intake!

Each teaspoon of sugar clocks 16 calories and 4g of sugar. And we wonder why our waistlines are expanding continually? The thing with sugar is that sugar is just empty calories with not much nutrient value at all and when ingested, it makes its way straight into our body’s fat stores.


When I refer to ‘sugar’ it is that which lurks in processed food i.e. biscuits, bottled drinks, breads, boxed cereals etc. This is added sugar and there is no physiological need for this. Naturally occurring sugar is found in whole foods, such as fruit, vegetables and dairy products. These foods are healthier because along with delivering essential macro and micronutrients, they contain fibre, which ensures a slow and steady release of sugar into our blood stream. This not only keeps us feeling fuller for longer but it also prevents a dramatic blood sugar spike which the body quickly converts into fat.


It is important however to be note that even all unprocessed foods should be consumed with awareness of their natural sugar content. Whether it’s honey or coconut sugar or molasses or refined caster sugar – it is ALL SUGAR! Food manufactures have 56 different names for describing this 5-letter word. The WHO recommends that in each meal we should be eating no more than 5g of sugar and in a day we should limit our sugar intake to <25g/day.


Sugar addiction in the developed world is an epidemic. When it comes to weaning yourself off of sugar, do NOT go cold turkey. Gradually cut it out because a sudden cut-off will result in withdrawal symptoms not unlike that seen in cocaine addiction. To satisfy your sweet cravings use spices like cinnamon, vanilla, chicory, nutmeg and cardamom as well as fruits like berries, oranges and apples.


When it comes to processed foods, two words – avoid completely! If a packaged food contains sugar in its first 3 ingredients, avoid! If a packaged food has more than 3 types of sugar in it, avoid! And if you can’t cut processed foods out totally then flip the label and read the sugar content before you put it in your mouth. You’ll find, more often than not, that the truth is bittersweet … 

Dr. Daamini Shrivastav


Dr. Daamini Shrivastav

Juggling many roles from physician to writer to pilates instructor to Marketing-PR executive, Dr. Daamini is constantly pushed and inspired to get creative on how to encompass a Retreat into her daily life.
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