We are often told that sugar is bad for our body. It is even said to be a ‘body builder’ for the bacteria that drive holes in our teeth. Well, how bad is it anyways? Put just a tiny pinch in our tea or leave it out altogether?
Sugar, the numerous sweets, colorless, water soluble compounds present in the sap of seed plants and the milk of mammals make up the simplest group of carbohydrates.
The most common sugar is sucrose, a crystalline tabletop and industrial sweetener used in foods and beverages. As a chemical term, “sugar” usually refers to all carbohydrates of the general formula Cn(H2O)n.
Sucrose is a disaccharide, or double sugar, being composed of one molecule of glucose linked to one molecule of fructose.
There are several different sugars. Sugars occur naturally in some foods, such as fruit and dairy products and are also added to a wide variety of foods. Sugar can take many different forms, including white, raw or brown sugar, honey or corn syrup.
Too much sugar in your diet can make it high in kilojoules or ‘energy dense’ and can contribute to health problems like obesity, tooth decay and diabetes.
Refined (or processed) sugar provides a quick, simple source of energy, but it doesn’t contain other nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. Sugars are popular in the processed food industry because they add taste, colour, bulk and thickness to food products.
They also prevent mould forming and act as a preservative. A ‘moderate’ intake of refined sugar can be an acceptable part of a healthy diet. Experts define a moderate intake as about 10% of your total energy intake per day.
Sugar addiction is a big issue, however. Most of us have failed to realize that each time we ingest sugar and lots of food that contain sugar, we are intentionally getting ourselves poisoned.
Time and again, research have proven that sugar is more addictive than cocaine, so each time you ‘drown’ yourself in carbonated drinks, chocolate, super sweet cakes and candy etcetera you increase the likelihood of developing cardio diseases, diabetes, obesity or cancer.
Well, don’t breathe a sigh of relief because the list goes on. Weight gain, metabolic syndrome, type-two diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease are among the major complications of ingesting excess sugar.
But, how is this addiction established anyways?
According to Dr Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, ‘sugar in the form of sucrose and fructose is like poison,’ due to its negative effect on the neuro transmitter systems of the body. The addiction can be explained as a cycle perpetually becoming stronger and stronger every time we ingest more sugar.
When sugar is consumed, blood sugar levels spike, releasing high amounts of opioids and dopamine in the brain which gives a tremendous satisfying sensation through a process called ‘Reward.’
Meanwhile a set of choline levels, which is another neuro transmitter, are in turn diminished, a process which intervenes intolerance.
High levels of insulin is then produced by the pancreas to decrease glycemic levels, which results in a rapid fall, this causes immediate fat storage by the cells to occur.
The cycle continues with the craving for more sugar to replenish its loss, along a displeasurable sensation and with time the body increases the amount of sugar consumption in order to increase the release of opioids and dopamine levels that give you that same level of satisfaction that you had in the beginning.
The cycle leads to compulsive eating and binging of sugary food making the addiction difficult to break.
Type two diabetes is a superb example of one of the negative consequence of consuming excess sugar. There’s always a massive production of insulin by the pancreas after sugar consumption, then after several years of over consumption of sugar and over producing insulin, the pancreas begins its degenerative process, diminishing the insulin levels it can produce, which then leads to higher levels of glycaemia process, leading to the appearance of type two diabetes.
The liver is naturally supposed to turn sugar into fat, storing it; but with type-two diabetes, the disease called fatty liver might occur which will dysfunction every liver process and with time.
The high amount of sugar in the blood stream will then affect the vascular system, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease. Then there’s diabetic neuropathy, a condition that results in the damage of small blood vessels which could lead to series of complications that will result in amputation.
The complications of sugar goes beyond the body. They also affect the mind. When opioids and dopamine levels fall, there’s always a severe sensation of fatigue and displeasure, a feeling that can only be countered by consumption of higher levels of sugar.
The multi-dollar food and drinks industries are hell bent on getting us to never give up sugar, because their sales depend on it.
That’s why they put sugar in everything we eat, even though they label the foods especially processed as ‘low fat or free from artificial flavors’, they are simply masking sugar laden products with false claims. Once sugar is ingested, it activates the sweet-taste receptors, part of the taste buds on the tongue.
These receptors send a signal up to the brain stem, and from there it forks off into many areas of the forebrain, one of which is the cerebral cortex. The signal activates the brain’s reward system ( a series of electrical and chemical pathways) across several different regions of the brain.
The whole process is simply helping you to answer the question, ‘should I do that again? That warm fuzzy feeling we get when we taste a sugary food, that’s the ‘reward system’ saying ‘Mhmm, yeah!’
We can detox from sugar by consuming powerful sugar addiction reversing foods that rewires our brains and gives our body a total reboot. We must start by making the hard decision of breaking the sugar habits by removing all excessive sugar containing food, flour and processed food completely from our houses.
We must learn to eat and not drink our calories, and also add protein to every meal we take. It is important to eat non starchy vegetables and food.
Managing stress helps us to reduce our craving for sugar, and please sleep, turn off your phones and television at night, stop binging on those series we all love so much and do yourselves a huge favor by sleeping early. It totally makes you healthy and strong.
Halima Imam writes from Axk4lima@gmail.com