We are all aware of the harmful affects of drugs like cocaine and nicotine. Their addictive and destructive side effects are so terrible that the former is illegal and the latter is highly monitored. Lesser known, however, is the fact that sugar has been proven to be just as addictive, and arguably as harmful, as these other substances.
Eating sugar causes the brain to produce dopamine, the same chemical produced in response to cocaine and nicotine. As with any addictive substance, the more the body is exposed to sugar, the more it takes to induce that dopamine high. This is how addiction begins. Our bodies crave more sugar in order to get the relief of the dopamine rush.
This is problematic because sugar is high in fructose, a type of simple sugar with no nutritional value and for which our body has no need. Fructose is not a problem if consumed in small amounts, like that in fruits. But consumed in the amounts found in Western diets, it overloads the liver and turns into fat. This can cause Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
Consuming excessive amounts of sugar also causes insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a metabolic disorder in which cells stop responding to insulin, meaning they no longer burn glucose the way they’re meant to. This leads to health problems like obesity, heart disease, and type II diabetes.
Sugar has also been linked to cancer. Because insulin regulates the growth and reproduction of cells, having an elevated insulin level as the result of sugar intake keeps the body from being able to prevent and fight cancer the way it is designed to. Inflammation, another cause of cancer, is tied to excessive sugar intake.
Obesity is a growing problem in the U.S., a problem that can be tied to our escalating affinity to sugary foods. Because increased glucose keeps our cells from burning fat, eating sugar makes it nearly impossible for our bodies to metabolize and maintain a healthy weight.
In addition to the above side effects, excessive sugar intake also causes tooth decay and skin problems. The metabolic crash that comes after eating sugar leaves us feeling exhausted and makes it difficult to focus. Sugar, in short, is wreaking havoc on our bodies and our health.
To add to this problem, sugar is a widely accepted and promoted part of our culture. Companies spend millions of dollars every year to sell their sugary products. There is sugar in our beverages, our breakfast cereals, our breads, our peanut butter, our sauces, and hundreds of other foods. It makes eating a healthy, balanced diet all the more difficult and important.
It is vital to our health that we see sugar for what it is: a serious detriment to our health. If you have questions or would like help in establishing healthy eating habits, please contact me. It is my passion to enable people to live their best, healthiest lives.
Photo Credit: thespiritscience.net