Almost everyone loves the sweet taste of sugar. With 115 million tons of sugar currently being produced each year it seems we have quite a craving for the sweet stuff. So why do we crave it and why is it now commonly thought to be the food we most need to eliminate?
Why do we crave sugar?
When primitive man found something sweet in nature such as a berry, he quickly learned that it was safe to eat. It is nature’s way of letting us know whether something is edible or not, sweet is good, bitter is not. And of course now we know that most foods that contain sugar in their natural state such as honey and fruits are healthy for us.
We naturally gravitate to something sweet when we are really hungry because sugar digests very quickly and satisfies our hunger very quickly. Studies have also shown that sugar acts similar to addicting drugs like morphine to produce opioids in the brain. Opioids produce the feelings of pleasure and satisfaction and thus can become addictive.
When food manufacturers figured this out they began producing sugar laden foods, especially foods for children. And of course sweet foods and candies are normally given to children as a treat, or as a reward, or to quite them down. The result is most people are hooked on sugar when they are just a small child.
What’s wrong with eating sugar?
The average American now eats 158 pounds of sugar every year. If my math is correct that is an extra 800 calories per day from pure sugar, which equates to approximately a weight gain of one pound every 5 days. Wow, no wonder we have an obesity and diabetes epidemic in America.
If you do a search on Google about the harmful effects of eating processed sugars, you will find more than 6 millions links. That I would say, gives us a pretty good idea that sugar and all of the artificial sweeteners may not be so good for us.
In this short article I don’t have room to go into all of the many health problems sugar causes, or the details. I just want to point out a few of the primary problems resulting from excess sugar consumption:
1. Obesity. Too much sugar in the body can’t be processed or utilized so it gets stored as fat.
2. Diabetes. Excess sugar in the blood causes too much insulin to be released which eventually over stresses the pancreas which can lead to hypoglycemia and diabetes.
3. Poor immune function. Excess sugar depletes vitamins and minerals stores in our bodies thus weakening our immune systems, contributing to degenerative disease.
4. Sugar also can disrupt our hormonal systems, causing allergies and many other malfunctions.
5. In addition sugar plantations worldwide have caused widespread destruction by ruining the soil and trees of their surrounding environment.
If you would like more information on the problems related to excess sugar consumption, read Dr. Joseph Mercola’s new book “Sweet Deception”.
What to do?
If you would like to greatly improve your health and energy levels and avoid serious problems in the future, the elimination of most processed sugars in your diet is essential. The best way of course is to eat mostly natural real whole foods and avoid most processed, packaged foods that contain added sugars. The following are most of the added sugars you want to avoid: white sugar, brown sugar, syrup, sucrose, glucose, dextrose,fructose, sucanat,turbinado sugar, beet sugar, maltose,Xylitol,Sorbitol,Mannitol,
Erythritol, Aspartame, Saccharin, NutraSweet, Splenda,Cyclamate, Sucralose and especially high fructose corn syrup which is widely used in so many food products.
You basically want to avoid any artificial sweeteners which are made of toxic chemicals and can create a whole list of other problems. Remember most packaged foods contain sweeteners along with other additives that you want to avoid. Learn to read labels; there are now many natural food products available that do not contain additives and simple sugars. If you can’t find these products where you shop ask the store manager to begin carrying them or find a store that does.
What’s sweet to eat?
As always get your sweets primarily from natural sources like organic fruits. Raw organic honey, pure maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, barley malt and Stevia are some natural sweeteners that are ok in moderation. It is not however necessary to eat any natural sweeteners as you get plenty of sugar from fruits, starches and grains in your diet.
Other Sweet Ideas
If you feel you are addicted to sugar, are obese, have diabetes or any serious disease, consult with a qualified health care practitioner such as a naturopathic doctor or nutritionist. They can develop a personalized program of detoxification and proper diet. The program in the book “Lick the Sugar Habit” by Nancy Appleton can also be very helpful for most people.
If you have school children organize your local PTA to get candy, sodas and all junk foods out of your school. Sugar overload is a major contributor to Attention Deficit Disorder and hyper activity among children. It’s our responsibility to take care of our health and of the health of our children, so take action and just say no to sugary processed foods.
It’s also important to be aware that everything that shows up in our physical body begins in our mental/emotional body. If you are addicted to sweets perhaps you aren’t allowing enough sweetness and love to come into your life from others. Take classes, read books or get some counseling on how to love yourself, love your life and create more fun and joy in your life.