Like many of us, we sometimes crave a sugar hit every now and then, but what you might find surprising is just how much sugar is actually added to supermarket foods. This great article from Sarah Ketabi has more.
Did you know that little white stuff you sprinkle into your coffee, that’s hidden in your granola bar and is filled in your dessert is as addictive of that white powder that’ll get you behind bars? Sugar (street name: stardust, snow, crack, fairy dust, rock.. just kidding) gets you hooked through invoking in a feeling of euphoria triggered by dopamine, the pleasure-inducing chemical in our brain, according to Psychology Today. Interestingly enough, the legal white powder, sugar, is causing more deaths in our population than the illegal substance, drugs.
Dr. Lustig, who has conducted the toxic effects of sugar findings, has said 75% of diseases Americans face are preventable simply by improving our diets. And with every high comes a low. Dr. Charles Raison, CNN’s mental health expert stated, “While processed sugars may produce a brief emotional high, several lines of evidence indicate that they affect our biology in ways that promote depression. For example, rates of depression in a country rise in lockstep with per capita sugar consumption. Sugars- which are found in all sorts of processed foods we don’t typically think of as sweet- promote obesity, and obesity is a very powerful risk factor for the later development of depression.”
So how is sugar addictive?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta offered his brain as a test during his interview with Dr. Lustig about the toxic effects of sugar. Having sips of coca cola increased the blood flow to certain regions of the brain- the same areas stimulated by a dose of cocaine or heroine. And just like an addict, you need more and more of that substance to get the same rush, which is why Americans are addicted to sugar. Neuroscientist Eric Stice says that by scanning hundreds of volunteers, he’s noticed that those who regularly consume sweet foods like ice cream or soda, build up a tolerance, feeling less reward and needing to eat more and more each time. He states, “If you overeat these on a regular basis, it causes changes in the brain. Basically it blunts your reward region response to the food, so then you eat more and more to achieve the same satisfaction you felt originally.”
So why are we addicted?
Dr. Lustig explains that our craving for sugar is a result of evolution. Since in nature, no foods with fructose are poisonous, humans have adapted to think “if it’s sweet, it’s safe.” Our brain has adapted to stay away from the harmful stuff by making the sweet stuff taste so darn good. CBS’s 60 Minutes explains, “Central to Dr. Lustig’s theory is that we used to get our fructose mostly in small amounts of fruit, which came loaded with fiber that slows absorption and consumption; after all, who can eat 10 oranges at a time? But as sugar and high fructose corn syrup became cheaper to refine and produce, we started gorging on them.” Guess Darwin couldn’t have predicted in a thousand years time, sugar would become our poison of choice.
They say it can’t be so bad if it tastes so good.. Wrong. Too much sugar causes the liver to convert fructose to fat, causing high cholesterol, clogged arteries, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, heart disease, obesity, breast and colon cancer. Lewis Cantley, head of Beth Israel Cancer Center, has discovered that tumors actually feed off glucose, due to their insulin detectors. We are literally dying for sugar.
Sugar is in places that most people would never imagine…
This dangerous substance isn’t just found in your sugar shaker- sugar is in places you’ll never imagine, like your peanut-butter, bread, sauces and yogurt; in fact, the average American eats 130 pounds of sugar a year! Ditching dessert isn’t just going to do the trick; restaurants sneak sugar into savory dishes, even fish recipes like Miso Black Cod, to amplify it’s taste, keeping you hooked. Dr. Lustig recommends that men should not consume more than 150 calories of added sugars a day and women, just 100. Thank god looking at Food Porn doesn’t have calories.
Now you don’t need to ban all sugar from your diet- I mean, what’s the point of life without a little bit of sweet stuff? Just try to stay balanced and not overdo it. With portion control, it’s fine to have dessert every night, just stay active and try to eat as many natural sugars, like fruit and honey, as possible. One of my favorite desserts when I’m craving something sweet are frozen grapes with a bit of dark chocolate. Artificial sweeteners aren’t the solution either- they are filled with dangerous chemicals linked with causing cancer. Dr. Lustig’s key word was “overeat,” so you can make your cake and eat it too (just not the whole entire thing) and you’re addiction will be under control.
To learn more, read Sanjay Gupta’s interview with Dr. Lustig and Lewis Cantley on the War on Sugar and watch Dr. Lustig’s anti-sugar campaign YouTube video Sugar: The Bitter Truth.