Sugar: “The Most Unhappy of Pleasures” In Today’s Diet
Here’s an alarming fact: An average American consumes at least 12 teaspoons of sugar every day – that’s equivalent to two tons in their entire lifetime! Sugar is indeed one of the most pervasive ingredients in food items today. Even infant formulas contain sugar.
Sugar not only tastes good, but it also creates a feeling of pleasure by using dopamine and opioid signals to trigger a natural process in your brain.
Dr. Joseph Mercola says: “When you delve beneath the surface even slightly you’ll begin to see that eating sugar may not only be making you unhealthy but also unhappy.”
Your Body Can Only Handle a Limited Amount of Sugar
The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it. According to Dr. Lustig, you can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day. But the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day.
All that excess sugar is metabolized into body fat, and leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we struggle with, including but not limited to:
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
Sugar Addiction is NOT a Good Thing
Consuming sugar triggers the production of natural opioids, which are an essential factor in the addiction process, in your brain. It’s similar to the effects of morphine or heroin.
In a report in The Atlantic, Dr. Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, says:
“The brain’s pleasure center, called the nucleus accumbens, is essential for our survival as a species… Turn off pleasure, and you turn off the will to live… But long-term stimulation of the pleasure center drives the process of addiction… When you consume any substance of abuse, including sugar, the nucleus accumbens receives a dopamine signal, from which you experience pleasure. And so you consume more.” (link)
According to researchers, it’s possible that sweet receptors – or protein receptors – found on your tongue also impact your sugar addiction. These receptors have not fully adapted to the large amounts of sugar present in your modern diet. Abnormally stimulating these receptors triggers the reward signals in your brain, overriding normal self-control mechanisms. This can lead to addiction.
Dr. Lustig adds:
“Who could have imagined that something so innocent, so delicious, so irresistible – just one glucose molecule (not so sweet) plus one fructose molecule (very sweet) – could propel America toward economic deterioration and medical collapse?”
The “Pleasure” Brought by Sugar Is Not Worth the Health Dangers
Sugar is toxic to your body, and being addicted to it can be deadly. Ingesting excessive amounts of sugar may cause obesity and dangerous chronic diseases.
“It’s only a matter of time before (sugar) will be commonly accepted as a causative factor in most cancer, in the same way that now we accept without question that smoking and alcohol abuse are direct causes of lung cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, respectively,” says Dr. Mercola.
Fructose, in particular, is a powerful pro-inflammatory agent that produces harmful advanced glycation end products (AGEs) and can speed up the aging process. It may also increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes by promoting excessive growth of fat cells (visceral fat) around your vital organs.
Sugar and fructose also increase your insulin and leptin levels by decreasing the receptor sensitivity of these vital hormones. This may lead to premature aging and age-related chronic degenerative diseases.
“Keep in mind that while it’s perfectly normal for your blood sugar levels to rise slightly after every meal, it is not natural or healthy when your blood sugar levels become excessively elevated and stay that way – which is exactly what will happen if you’re eating like the typical American, who consumes a staggering 2.5 pounds of sugar a week on average!” warns Dr. Mercola.
76 Ways Sugar Can Ruin Your Health
Too much sugar can lead to detrimental effects to your health. I counted at least 76 ways (yes, you read that right!) in which sugar can cause serious health risks for you. These hazards are divided into four categories: Increased Risk of Diseases and Sicknesses, Nutrient Imbalance or Deficiency, Bodily Impairments, and Behavioral Changes.
Nutrient Imbalance or Deficiency
- Upsets the mineral relationships in your body
- Chromium deficiency
- Interferes with the absorption of calcium, magnesium, and protein
- Increases total cholesterol, triglycerides, and bad cholesterol levels
- Decreases good cholesterol levels
- Lowers vitamin E levels
- Body changes sugar into two to five times more fat in the bloodstream compared to starch
- Addictive and intoxicating, similar to alcohol
- Rapid rise of adrenaline, hyperactivity, and anxiety
- Leads to difficulty in concentration, drowsiness, and crankiness in children
- Results in decreased activity in children
- Reduces learning capacity and can cause learning disorders that could affect schoolchildren’s grades
- Increases risk of antisocial behavior
- Decrease in emotional stability
Increased Risk of Diseases and Sicknesses
- Feeds cancer cells
- Can induce cell death
- Increases fasting levels of glucose
- Increases systolic blood pressure
- Significant increase in platelet adhesion
- Leads to formation of kidney stones and gallstones
- Rapid sugar absorption promotes excessive food intake
- Decreases insulin sensitivity, leading to high insulin levels and eventually diabetes
- Reactive hypoglycemia
- Headaches, including migraines
- Gastrointestinal tract problems
- Food allergies
- Promotes chronic degenerative diseases
- Causes atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases
- Causes cataracts and nearsightedness
- May lead to autoimmune diseases like arthritis, asthma, and multiple sclerosis
- Causes emphysema
- Contributes to osteoporosis
- Contraction of appendicitis, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins
- Parkinson’s disease (people with said disease have high sugar intake)
- Increases risk of gout and Alzheimer’s disease
- Acidity in saliva, tooth decay, and periodontal diseases
- Gum disease
- Greatly promotes uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)
- Toxemia in pregnancy
- Contributes to eczema in children
- Worsens symptoms of children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Increases risk of polio
- May lead to epileptic seizures
- Could lead to high blood pressure in obese people
- Increased consumption in intensive care units can induce death
- Has potential to induce abnormal metabolic processes in a normal healthy individual
- Suppression of immune system, increasing risk of contracting infectious diseases
- Loss of tissue elasticity and function
- Weaker eyesight
- Premature aging
- Increases advanced glycation end products wherein sugar molecules attach to proteins and end up damaging them
- DNA structure impairment
- Can cut off oxygen to brain via intravenous feedings
- Change in protein structure and causes a permanent alteration of protein acts in your body
- Changing of collagen structure
- Skin aging
- Impairs physiological homeostasis of bodily systems
- Lowers ability of enzymes to function
- Increases liver size by making liver cells divide, increasing the amount of liver fat
- Increase kidney size and producing pathological changes
- Pancreatic damage
- Increase in body’s fluid retention
- Affects urinary electrolyte composition
- Slows down ability of adrenal glands to function
- Compromises lining of capillaries
- Brittle tendons
- Can cause an increase in delta, alpha, and theta brain waves, which can alter the mind’s ability to think clearly
- Causes hormonal imbalances
- Increases free radicals and oxidative stress
- Leads to substantial decrease in gestation, with a twofold increased risk for delivering a small-for-gestational-age infant
- Dehydration among newborns
- Affects carbon dioxide production when given to premature babies
Why Cutting Down on Sugar Might Be the Best Health Insurance Available
- As sugar consumption has risen, obesity and diabetes rates have skyrocketed worldwide.
- For the first time in history, obese people outnumber those who are underweight, and prediabetes affects half of US adults
- It’s gotten this bad is because health professionals have mistakenly assumed they understand the causes of obesity and diabetes. Their flawed recommendations have fueled these epidemics
How to Break Sugar Addiction
Don’t fret – it’s not too late to kick those bad habits to the curb. I have a couple of recommendations on how to safely consume sugar without sacrificing your health!
One way to reduce sugar consumption would be to lessen the amount of sugar that you consume on a daily basis – below 25 grams to be exact – including that from whole fruits.
I also advise you to avoid high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) at all costs. This is a sweetener that is made from corn and found in many of the food items that we eat and drink today. Now, this is considered to be deadly not only because of the amount of sugar that goes in it, but also because of the health risks that can it can cause, most of which were already mentioned above.
Choosing a well-balanced diet tailored to your specific body type helps, with extra emphasis on food rich in fiber, which helps slow down the absorption of sugar, and food rich in high quality omega-3 fats, which are also crucial to lessening the impact of eating excessive sugar. Avoiding food with high sugar content and constantly rehydrating with fresh and pure water are also recommended.
Lastly, exercising every day, along with optimizing your vitamin D levels, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress levels can also help minimize the effects of excessive sugar intake. Exercise in particular is known to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce stress levels, suppress ghrelin (the appetite hormone), speed up metabolism, strengthen bones, and boost your mood.
It can be quite difficult to say no to sweets, especially if you have been consuming them on a daily basis, but trust me, once you feel the effects that lowering your sugar intake has on your body, it will all be worth it.
“[Slay] the sugar monster in your home by transitioning to only natural sugars, eating more whole fats, forbidding organic junk food from finding a regular home in your pantry, and eating homemade sweets only on an occasional basis…”
“Big Sugar Buried Evidence to Hide Sugar Harms” – Dec 06, 2017
“Insufficient Science About Added Sugar?” – September 26, 2017
“How High-Sugar Diets Speed You Toward an Early Grave” – Sep 07, 2016
“The Link Between Sugar and Depression” – Aug 17, 2017
“What Does Sugar Do to Your Brain?” – May 06, 2017
“Sugar Identified as a Top Cause of the Surge in Cancer” – Jan 20, 2016
“Eating Sugar Makes You Stupid” – July 08, 2015
“The Bitter Truth About Sugar” – Dec 31, 2014
Dr. D’Adamo: “The Many Consequences of Sugar Imbalance”