sugar putting you at risk

Your Sugar Fix is Putting You At Risk

Many people joke about being addicted to sugar. We try to justify the guilty feelings we will experience and the weight gain that will happen when we reach for that donut, that extra cookie or another slice of cheesecake.

When we have had a bad day at work, fought with our spouse or the kids have been screaming all day, we reach for that bag of cookies and demolish the lot because we know we will feel happier as a result of it and we will get that sugar fix.

Although people will jokingly admit to having "a sugar addiction", it is serious, and it is potentially dangerous to our health.But you are reading this thinking "How dangerous can a chocolate chip cookie be, and, really, would one actually kill me?"

Numerous scientific studies have shown how sugar can be as addictive as alcohol and cocaine and that it can actually be more difficult to quit sugar addiction than drugs or alcohol.Sounds a bit outrageous but sugar really is that addictive and it is in more foods than we realize, whereas alcohol and cocaine, well, you would have to go to a "specialty" store to find them.

So why do we have a sugar addiction and why do we crave it so much?

Not only are a huge percentage of the processed foods manufactured today genetically modified, but they are produced using toxins and chemicals that are designed to make us crave more. Sugar has an uncontrollable effect on our brain and hormones, and sugar combined with those GMO's can really make us do weird things.

When we eat sugar, we trigger the production of natural opioids in our brain that creates a feeling of pleasure. The more sugar we eat, the more opioids are released, and the more pleasure we experience.It generates excessive reward signals in our brain and it has the potential to override any form of self-control.We justify our behaviour for eating that extra cookie and eating that extra slice of cheesecake. It is triggering reactions that we potentially have no control over.

Those pleasure chemicals, or neurotransmitters, can override our logical thought processes in a bid to "get high".Dopamine is a neurotransmitter and conveys that feeling of pleasure, but when we overstimulate those pleasure receptors, they begin to "down regulate", resulting in us needing more sugar to get the same fix or high. It can take as little as three weeks to down regulate those receptors.

For tens of thousands of years, our body has relied on the hormone leptin to send signals to our brain to regulate what we eat.Leptin tells our brain that we are full and that we do not need to eat any more.When your leptin receptors are malfunctioning, due to an excessive intake of sugar, your brain does not hear the messages that leptin is sending. Your brain thinks that you are starving, you will continue to feel hungry, you will overeat and continue to crave more sugar.

It is alarming that the average North American consumes 150lbs of sugar per year.That is the equivalent 0.4lbs of sugar per day.

So, are you reading this convincing yourself that you do not eat that much sugar and that this does not apply to you and anyway you don't eat that many "sweet" foods? Well, sugar is in everything. More importantly, it is our fructose consumption that is potentially the most dangerous and even life threatening to us.Manufacturers are sneaky. Because sugar can be listed as over 50 different names, to ensure that sugar is not the first item on the ingredient list, they break it down into various different forms of sugar to disguise just how much their products contain. From a manufacturing perspective this is very shrewd or we wouldn't buy their products.

Because sugar is in so many of our foods, we probably don't realize that we are already addicted. Sugar is in your foods such as baked goods, cookies and desserts, but it is also in breakfast cereals, breads, ketchups, pasta, fruit, soda, juices, yogurts. The list is endless. And, those low fat foods that you regularly purchase, because you are trying to lose weight? Well, they contain more sugar and high fructose corn syrup than you think, because when the fat is removed, it also removes much of the flavour, and to compensate, sugar is added as a way to make the foods more palatable and appealing.

Every cell in our body, especially our brain, requires glucose to function and to provide our body with essential energy. The majority of our glucose consumption (if not eaten in excess) is burned up quite soon after consumption. Fructose, however, is converted into Free Fatty Acids (FFA's), VLDL and triglycerides, which get stored in our body as body fat.

The FFA's created when fructose is metabolized accumulate in our liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Insulin resistance is a precursor to type II diabetes and can bring on the onset of metabolic syndrome.

We have to consider the health of our liver when we consume sugar too. Only 20% of the glucose we consume is metabolized by our liver, as opposed to 100% of the fructose we consume. When the liver metabolizes fructose, it generates a long list of waste products and toxins, including uric acid which can cause high blood pressure and gout.

  • Sugar has zero nutritional value
  • It leaches calcium from your hair, bones, blood and teeth
  • It compromises your immune system, resulting in you being more susceptible to bugs and illnesses
  • It affects your digestive system and can create minor and major intestinal and colon diseases from IBS to cancer
  • It depletes your body of all B vitamins. B vitamins make and re-absorb our neurotransmitters and are essential for mental health. Although you get that initial sugar rush or high from consuming foods loaded with sugar, that high sugar intake is also why we get those "crashes" and can feel depressed, moody and irritable
  • Sugar stresses our pancreas and has the potential to lead to pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer
  • Sugar depletes our body of chromium, andchromium deficiency causes sugar cravings (what a vicious circle)

You have to also consider that when you are eating lots of fruit, which we have all been told is "healthy" for us, that we are still consuming sugar in the form of "fruit fructose" and that even this form of sugar can end up stored as body fat and be potentially harmful to our health.

So how do you get off the sugar addiction merry-go-round?

Well, it isn't easy, especially if you have been a "sugar addict" for a long time