“Sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine”.
Mark Hyman, MD
Yes, you read that right! Sugar is 8 times more addictive than cocaine and many food products industries have perfected the right combination of sugar, fat and salt to provide our brains and bodies with a buzz we can’t resist. I have heard some of my friends say that they crave sugary foods so badly that they must have some everyday. There are many theories that attempt to explain the craving for sugary foods but my theory is this: It tastes and looks soooooo good! 😉
If you go into any Coffee shop/cake shop or even any store now a days, you will find they are all loaded with beautifully decorated cakes which are always on the display to catch your attention — all those pretty cup cakes, creamy chocolates, light sponge cakes, muffins, fluffy marshmallows, chocolate fudge cake and the list goes on … in fact, just about everything sugary looks and smells delicious. Isn’t it? Hands down, I have a sweet tooth and I like all these too. 😉 Having said that, I am also aware of the fact that giving myself a sugary treat once a week is not going to harm me. But if I am going to over indulge then that is something my body is not going to like. I’m sure most of you love sugary stuff but, in reality there is nothing to love about refined sugar. Why? Because it makes us put on weight, increases the size of our liver, makes us unwell and ages us inside and out, leaving us tired, fat, old-looking and wrinkled. Most importantly it makes us addictive and drags valuable nutrients out of our body. So today, let’s find out in detail why sugar is sooo addictive and sooo bad for us?
Over the last fifty years, the Western world has doubled its consumption of processed sugar (the type found in biscuits, soft drinks, and ice cream, for instance) and during this time, rates of obesity and heart disease have soared. Of course, sugar is not solely responsible – but it is largely to blame. If you feel that I am over exaggerating, then Google ‘Harmful effects of processed sugar’ and you’ll get about 32,500,000 links. Millions of people (especially in America and the UK where processed sugar consumption is highest) are fat, unwell and living uncomfortably, taking all sorts of medication just to keep their overloaded bodies going.
WHY IS SUGAR BAD FOR US?
We all know that sugar is bad for us but let us just remind ourselves of a few reasons here:
Sugar makes you fat: Your body can not process too much sugar, so it gets stored as a fat. Plus it also makes fat burning even harder – if you are eating too much refined sugar every day, you’ll always struggle to lose weight and you’ll never have a flat tummy.
Sugars lowers energy levels: Processed sugar causes a huge and damaging increase in your blood sugar levels, giving you a quick burst of energy, which is soon followed by a long, hard crash, leaving you tired, hungry and eventually fat.
Sugar leaches your body of Vitamin B: It leaches out Vitamin B from your body, causing exhaustion; any mental and phyiscal or emotional stress does the same. If you add sugar on to the end of a stressed out day, you’re getting a double disaster of vitamin B depletion. Vitamin B keeps your metabolism healthy, boosts your energy levels, keeps skin, hair and nails healthy and keeps your immunity strong.
Sugar, not fat, is making us fatter: Burning body fat has a lot to do with controlling your insulin levels. But sugar spikes raise your insulin levels, leading to faster fat storage, and this is the real reason why so many of us are either overweight or obese. Sugar, not fat, is making us fatter. In a healthy slim person, 40 percent of the sugar they eat is converted straight to fat; in an overweight person, up to 60 percent is converted straight to fat and stored right around their stomach, hips and thighs. Think about it: up to 60 percent of that delish cupcake is heading straight for your tummy, hips and thighs, where it will remain for a very long time. Scary right! 😦
Effects our immune system: Too much sugar depletes vitamin and mineral stores in the body, which may impact on the immune system. So you become ill more frequently and for longer.
Sugar wears out your organs: It forces your internal organs to cope with changes in your body chemistry, which means that your kidneys and pancreas can become worn out long before you stop needing them. Hence the increase in late-onset Diabetes.
WHY IS SUGAR ADDICTIVE?
Some people experience powerful cravings for sweets – internal messages telling them to eat sugar even though they know it’s bad for them says Dr. Louis Aronne, director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Centre at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Centre. “These people get strong urges to consume sweets, and these cravings border on addiction”, he says. “When they eat sugar, just like when someone ingests cocaine, some people get that feeling of well-being, a rush that makes them feel good for a period of time. When the sweets are taken away, the people just don’t feel right”.
An article was published on BBC News which explains that sugar can be a mood-booster as it prompts the body to release the ‘happy hormone’ serotonin into the blood stream. The instant ‘lift’ we get from sugar is one of the reasons we turn to it at times of celebration or when we crave comfort and reward. However, the pleasant sugar rush triggers an increase in insulin as the body strives to bring blood glucose levels back to normal. This has the knock-on effect of causing a ‘sugar crash’ and makes many crave yet more sugar, which can lead to a cycle of binge-eating. So, once you start eating it, it’s very hard to stop. I guess this is why you very rarely find a packet of half finished biscuits. 😀
For most of us, when we were growing up, sugary foods were used as a ‘reward’ by our parents and grandparents. Isn’t this the truth? If we get good grades at school, we’d be given sweets on the way home, to say, ‘well done’. On different occasions like ‘Eid ul adha’ and ‘Eid ul Fitr’ (religious festivals celebrated by Muslims) we’d be given different sweets like mithai’s and halwa’s. As for our birthdays, we ‘d get a huge cake, drenched in sugar, to celebrate. So is it any wonder that, by the time we reached our teens, we’d learn to associate sugary foods with happy times and making ourselves feel better?
As mentioned above, sugar has a similar effect on the brain to that of pain killing drugs like morphine and other opiates such as heroin. These types of drugs produce almost instant feelings of pleasure, calm and satisfaction, making them incredibly addictive. Many of us turn to something sugary for ‘energy’ and technically, it is a form of energy, but it’s a bad type. So, yes, you’ll get a quick burst after eating a chocolate bar, but about ten minutes after that you’ll feel even more tired than you were before. (That’s because sugar quickly hits the bloodstream, creating a rapid rise in blood sugar or we can say a spike. However, just as quickly, you then crash as a result of insulin being produced from the pancreas, leaving you exhausted). And you might grab another bar of chocolate for that quick burst of energy again because of the vicious cycle that has just started. So, stop the cycle by not starting it.
So what do you do if you have a sweet tooth? The best you can do is ”don’t ever use sugar as a reward”. Ask yourself this – how is giving yourself early wrinkles, a bloated stomach and fat around your waist line a ‘reward’? See sugar for what it is – a nasty toxin that’s dyed a pretty colour to lure you in, and which then makes you fat and unwell. Reward yourself with something else instead like a beauty treatment or spend time in nature or read a good book or find comfort in other things like have a cup of camomile or green tea or some fruits with yogurt, nuts etc. Go for a brisk walk, phone a friend – anything to distract your mind from having more sugar.
And if you really wanna indulge in your favourite sugary stuff then make it once a week but again be careful with the portion size. Don’t over do it. You can also make something at home with natural sugars like honey, pure organic raw sugar, cane sugar, molasses etc. There’s enough healthy stuff there to satisfy the sweetest sweet tooth. It’s time to get back to a healthy lifestyle, eat foods which are real and remember that sugar is a nuclear fat bomb exploding all over your body. If you eat it everyday, you’ll always struggle with weight loss and overall health.
So, ”Let’s Say Good Bye to Processed Sugar and Hello to Natural Sugars”.