Among fitness expert’s common concerns is that just as many people aren’t aware of the hidden dangers posed by excessive sugar consumption.
Would it surprise you to learn the most common addiction is today’s society is sugar? Sadly, society views a sugar addiction as harmless. A few people realize they are addicted to sugar and make little jokes like, “Gotta satisfy my sweet tooth”. They crave sweet foods like alcoholics crave beer.
Research conducted using laboratory rats determined that behaviourally, sugar acted very similar to narcotics in the brain. When rats were allowed limited access to sugar-laden drinks, they presented with addictive behaviour: when the drink was accessible they binged and when it was removed they crashed. (Withdrawal, lethargy, depression, etc.)
This is a simple illustration to explain that lovely “sugar high” we experience from eating simple sugars like chocolate, soft drinks and biscuits. It just doesn’t last, does it?
When we eat huge amounts of sugar our brain releases dopamine and endorphins that make us feel happy. Simple sugar is quickly released into the bloodstream, so that we also feel a short energy boost.
In about an hour, glucose levels in the blood plummet and we feel lethargic (like our rats). It helps to understand, refined sugar is a chemical and when we eliminate it from our daily diet it can cause symptoms, as serious as alcohol withdrawal. (Headaches, mood swings, even tremors)
Excepting one tiny molecule, sugar and alcohol have the same biochemical make-up. As white refined sugar is void of all nutrients, it is classified an empty calorie food.
Another factor is excessive sugar consumption copycats the brain’s reward pathway, like alcohol and drugs. Neurotransmitters are over-stimulated and no longer function correctly, until eventually the mind needs sugar in order to operate correctly. Since the body is not receiving essential nutrients, it starts craving more sugar.
If we don’t keep feeding the sugar addiction, our body spirals in a negative cycle, as it would when attempting to detox from alcohol addiction.
The prognosis worsens for people with chronic illness, as sugar negatively impacts the immune system. Excessive sugar consumption can deplete white blood cells vital for a strong immune system. White blood cells a.k.a. phagocytes also destroy harmful bacteria. A compromised immune system diminishes the bodies’ natural ability to fight disease and infection.
In the event you’re a sugar junkie, eliminating sugar from your diet may not be as easy as you suspect. Most commercially produced foods use sugar as a preservative and/or to make foods more palatable. You must become a conscious label-reader in order to make healthy choices.
Sugar is “hidden” in your morning cereal, bread and even some cold meats at lunch and ready made sauces at dinner. A rule of thumb is if you like it, it’s probably got sugar in it.
Knowledge is power! Now you know sugar is addictive and why, you can empower yourself to make conscious efforts to eat a healthy diet.