The First Commandment in The Seven Commandments of the Probiotic Lifestyle is Thou Shall Not Entertain Sugar in Your Life. In today’s sugar-laden world, where sweet temptations seem to lurk around every corner, finding a balance between nurturing your gut health with probiotics and minimizing your sugar consumption can be a challenging task. However, armed with the right knowledge and strategies, you can navigate through the sugar maze and create a lifestyle that supports both your gut microbiota and overall well-being.
In this guide, we will try and come up with practical tips, mindful choices, and delicious alternatives to help you embrace a probiotic lifestyle while successfully keeping sugar at bay. So, let’s embark on this journey towards a healthier, sugar-smart you!
Here is a practical guide on how to avoid sugar intake as part of an optimal Probiotic Lifestyle.
1. Read Food Labels
Pay close attention to the ingredient list on packaged foods and beverages. Look for added sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, or any word ending in “-ose.” Choose products that are low in added sugars or have no added sugars. One challenge in this solution is that in some jurisdictions, food manufacturers have found tactics of avoiding explicitly declaring sugar in their products. This is where you summon your intuition. Basically, anything that contains sugar, tastes like it contains sugar.
In my experience, food labels are not always reliable. So, when in doubt I go with what my body is telling me. For example, a product label might not make any mention of sugar, but the taste, subsequent brain-fog, and a possible flare up of the psoriasis or bloating is all I need to bid farewell to this product.
2. Choose Plain or Unsweetened Options
Opt for plain probiotic-rich foods like plain yogurt, kefir, or fermented vegetables…and this has been the best approach for me. Avoid flavored or sweetened versions, as they often contain added sugars.
For instance, I am flabbergasted by the alarming number of probiotic supplements that contain sugar or sweetener. Especially, kids’ vitamins and probiotics. Here is what I have learnt though, adding sugar to a health supplement is not of any benefit to the consumer. However, it is of great benefit to the manufacturer mainly because sugar is a highly addictive commodity.
They are not trying to make it easier for you to consume their product…. they only want to sell their product to as many people, and as many times as possible. If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can add fresh fruits or a small amount of honey as a natural sweetener. However, the best thing if you are trying to rebuild your gut microbiota after a catastrophic stomach event is to just to avoid sugar…Believe me, you will not die because of not taking sugar. Even though it will feel like you will the first time you try to divorce this dangerous commodity.
3. Prepare Meals at Home
Cooking your meals from scratch gives you control over the ingredients and sugar content. Use whole, unprocessed ingredients and minimize the use of added sugars in your recipes. Focus on incorporating probiotic-rich foods into your meals, such as fermented vegetables, homemade yogurt, or kombucha.
In so doing, try and avoid the school of thought that posits that all natural foods are expensive. For instance, you have the option of hitting up your local farmers market and buying a few cabbages, then turning them into sauerkraut. You also have the option of buying the ingredients for making Kombucha at home every day, instead of relying on the overpriced ones at your local health store. Take it from me, your Probiotic Lifestyle can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. The choice is yours!
4. Limit Processed and Sugary Snacks
This one is self-explanatory, many processed snacks, such as cookies, candies, and sweetened granola bars, are loaded with added sugars. Choose healthier alternatives like fresh fruits, raw nuts, or homemade snacks that are low in sugar.
Before I saw the probiotic lifestyle light, I used to live on snacks…the sugarier the better. So, nowadays when the missus sees me throw some left over sugary snacks in the bin, she has a tough time believing what she is seeing. My top snacks nowadays are plain yoghurt for when I want to stay nourished during travels. and plain nuts for killing the boredom. When at home, I take low-sugar fruits such as avocados and thorn melons. If you want to limit processed and sugary snacks, always avoiding getting yourself chronically hungry. Limiting processed and sugary snacks requires you to master your hunger clock.
5. Be Mindful of Beverages
Sugary beverages like soda, fruit juices, sweetened teas, and energy drinks can contribute significantly to your daily sugar intake. Opt for water, herbal teas, or unsweetened versions of beverages. If you enjoy a fizzy drink, consider drinking kombucha or sparkling water with a splash of fresh lemon or lime juice.
FYI: Kombucha still contains sugar albeit in small amounts. So, do most low-cal beverages. But again, this is where home-made beverages prevail. When you start looking for sugar-free beverages, that is when you know sugar has taken over modern life. Seriously, getting a sugar-free beverage is such a hussle…and this is why most people just go with water. But do not give up hope, because the revolution is coming.
5. Educate Yourself on Hidden Sugars
Sugar can hide in unexpected places, such as condiments, salad dressings, sauces, and even savory snacks. Even in meats and other protein products. Read the labels and choose low-sugar or sugar-free alternatives whenever possible. In the course of my experience, sugar in popcorn was quite unexpected. Without education on hidden sugars you might keep saying keto diets do not work etc etc.
The main trick for discovering hidden sugars is by observing your cravings. Nine out of ten times, the product you crave for contains sugar!
6. Gradually Reduce Sugar Intake
If you are used to consuming a lot of sugar, it can be challenging to cut it out entirely. Like I keep saying, sugar is like a drug. The same way you get off an addiction is the same way you get off sugar. Start by gradually reducing your sugar intake over time. This allows your taste buds to adjust and helps you develop a preference for less sugary foods.
You will also be surprised by how many times you fall off the wagon. However, for most people who pursue the Probiotic Lifestyle, consuming sugar comes with negative externalities such as bloating, brain fog, skin breakouts, or IBS. So, these horrible symptoms are the ones that will keep you on the straight and narrow.
Again, the first commandment of My Probiotic Lifestyle (i.e The Seven Commandments of the Probiotic Lifestyle) is THOU SHALL NOT ENTERTAIN SUGAR IN YOUR LIFE. But from my own experiences, this is also the hardest goal to achieve in the course of a healthy lifestyle. It is like being an alcoholic for 40 years and then suddenly you have to learn to live without alcohol in your life. But if you achieve this goal, you will have achieved more than 40% of a healthy lifestyle. Simply because sugar goes against your principal agenda of trying to populate your gut with good bacteria, and suppressing the overgrowth of bad bacteria. Even when taking probiotics regularly, taking sugar can reverse most if not all of your gains. Getting good bacteria into your stomach is one thing, feeding them in the right way and having them multiply is another thing. Hence, it is always a good idea to avoid sugar.