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There are thousands of mitochondria in nearly every cell in the body. Mitochondria are the energy structures within cells. Their job is to process oxygen and convert substances from the foods we eat into energy. Mitochondria produce 90% of the energy our body needs to function.

We know sugar is bad for us, but it’s also the enemy of our mitochondria and plays a roll in many metabolic health issues, like metabolic syndrome and other chronic diseases.

Free radicals are oxygen-containing molecules with an uneven number of electrons. The uneven number allows them to easily react with other molecules.

Consuming excess sugar puts the mitochondria under stress, causing them to emit free radicals. (This is called oxidative damage.)

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in our bodies.

Free radicals can cause damage to our cells if they are not neutralized by antioxidants. Oxidative stress is the state our body is put in when the levels of antioxidants in our body are not high enough to counteract the damaging effect of free radicals.

A new study found that exercise, particular high-intensity interval training in aerobic exercises such as biking and walking, caused cells to make more proteins for their energy-producing mitochondria and their protein-building ribosomes, effectively stopping aging at the cellular level.

We can limit the amount of oxidative stress placed on our bodies by eating healthy, limiting sugar, eating lots of vegetables & fruits like berries, and doing at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercises every day. We can also supplement our diet with supplements, such as CoQ10, milk thistle, vitamin C, and green tea. These are taken up by the mitochondria of cells, replenishing antioxidant reserves right at the site of many biochemical reactions, helping to reduce oxidative stress.

I’ve always said, “I was born with a sugar addiction.” The reality is we are taught this when our parents give us sugar as treats. It’s a hard habit to kick because – by design – processed sugars are addicting. Things like soda are not only addicting, but incredibly toxic. If you crave the carbonation, drink sparkling water or kombucha. (See my post on making your own kombucha.) We have to work hard not to buy it and bring into your home.

Most people can’t go cold turkey, so if you have to, start by cutting your sweets in half, then gradually remove it from your diet and start making & baking your own goodies with healthy sweeteners like honey, Monkfruit, maple sugar, or coconut sugar, all of which are much better for us. Check out my post on a delish coffee powder that includes monkfruit and coconut sugar.

If you have a chocolate addiction, start eating dark chocolate. It has antioxidants and less sugar. When I bake and add chocolate, I use these amazing dark chocolate chips. I love the Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate bars. If you aren’t use to dark chocolate, you may want to try this 70% cacao bar first, then move to the 85% bar. As with most things that are beneficial to good health and therefore longevity, these are a little more expensive than regular chocolate chips or chocolate bars (which also contain toxins), but well worth it in the long run.

Also chewing gum helps me fight a sugar craving and Xylitol Chewing Gum is awesome. You just can’t have too much of it or you might get loose stools. Personally, I’ve never had an issue with this, but it is listed as a side affect. There are also different flavors. My kids like the bubble gum flavor.

I recently stumbled upon something called sweet defeat. From what I’ve read, it doesn’t directly prevent sugar cravings, but either makes it taste less good or altogether tasteless. What I do know – from experience, if you can get away from sugar, the sugar cravings become manageable and allow you to stop buying it. So it might be worth a try….

The bottom line is sugar is addictive AND literally makes us sick. As another example, see my post on the link between sugar and Alzheimer’s disease.

Good luck on your journey of becoming sugar free!!